GLENDALE, Ariz. — The truth came out Saturday night in the Fiesta Bowl, when the Sooners routed Connecticut 48-20 and scattered the demons of bowl lapses past.
This BCS losing streak rankled the Sooners. Rankled them bad.
How bad? Stoic Landry Jones said his blood boiled watching replays of some of Oklahoma football's recent bowl troubles.
“It made me mad personally, just seeing those things,” Jones said.
Anger and disgust, the emotions that defined OU's two most recent trips to the desert, were nowhere to be found on this chilly Arizona night in University of Phoenix Stadium.
The wacky Boise State game? The stunning West Virginia rout? This game was nothing like those.
This Fiesta Bowl went exactly as scripted. Rarely does a football game play out as expected, but this one did.
Too much talent on the Sooner side, not enough offensive firepower on the UConn side.
The Huskies, as scrutinized as any BCS team in recent history, turned out be just what we thought they were. A gritty team. A well-coached team. A solid team.
But not a team that could keep up with Jones and his wizard offense. Not a team that could consistently dent a Sooner defense that loves one-dimensional offenses. Not a team that could make the Sooners question their ability to win on this stage.
Zip-zip-zip went Jones and his offense on OU's first drive, which consisted of nine plays and produced six first downs. Four of the plays were for double-digit yardage, and only Jones' eight-yard TD pass to tight end James Hanna came on third down.
Zip-zip-zip went Jones on OU's second drive, another nine plays, another incredibly easy thrust. The only third down was a 3rd-and-1, and DeMarco Murray's three-yard TD run made it 14-0.
At that point, you thought the Sooners might win 52-3.
“They're talented,” said UConn coach Randy Edsall. “They have the guy that can pull the trigger and they got the running back (DeMarco Murray) to go with it.”
But enough bad-Fiesta memories bubbled — two Connecticut returns for touchdowns, a couple of turnovers — kept the game interesting and made the Sooners work for that gaudy trophy that rightfully means so much to them.
OU returned two interceptions for touchdowns itself; Broyles and Cameron Kenney kept making huge plays; Jeremy Beal's proud defense refused to let Connecticut reach the end zone; and soon enough the BCS jinx was over.
“It's huge,” linebacker Travis Lewis. “It's huge to get this monkey off the back. To come out and play defense, it's huge. Coming into next year, the sky's the limit for this team.”
The Sooners suddenly end this season on a five-game winning streak, their best stretch drive since the 2000 national championship season.
After that Nov. 6 loss at Texas A&M, Lewis said the Sooners told themselves “we're a better team than this. If we can stop shooting ourselves in the foot, I think we're the best team in the country.”
Even playing like this, OU is not the best team in the country. But the Sooners could be the best team in the country next season, and this Fiesta Bowl could launch such a bid.
And they will walk tall, with the gorilla gone.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.