MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — They trotted onto the field with 4:18 left, these Oklahoma defenders who had been handed the responsibility of keeping national championship hopes alive.
Get a stop, say a prayer and see if somehow a one-point deficit could be overcome in this land of so many great Sooner moments. And Miami’s offense handed the Sooners their heads. The Hurricanes zapped all excitement and all expectations from the Oklahoma season with a 21-20 victory Saturday night at Land Shark Stadium, and most hurtful of all was this: Defense let down the Sooners. On a night when OU played without its three best ballhandlers — Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham and, for 59 minutes, Ryan Broyles — the Sooners needed the defense to win it for them. It failed. "They put the game in our hands again, and we didn’t get it done,” said d-tackle G.K. McCoy. "It’s on us.” Forgive the defense its late-game letdown against Brigham Young. That was one drive. This was the entire game. Sure, OU’s defense allowed just two real touchdown drives, since one Miami score came after Landry Jones’ fumble at the Sooner 11-yard line. But the two scoring drives were doozies: 91 and 72 yards. And that final drive told the tale. Needing a stop, at most holding Miami to one first down, the OU defense allowed four first downs and the Hurricanes ran out the clock. Quarterback Jacory Harris completed two passes. Tailback Javarris James reeled off gains of 21 and 13 yards. The ‘Canes never gave the ball back in those final 258 seconds. "We pride ourselves on stopping the run game, and they ran the ball down our throats,” said OU linebacker Ryan Reynolds. Javarris had an astounding 150 yards on 15 carries. He looked like Roland Sales or Jacque Robinson, old tailbacks who ruined Sooner Orange Bowls in this same county. Meanwhile, Harris, the gangly sophomore who was so erratic early with two toss-it-up interceptions, was salty down the stretch.