EUGENE, Ore. — They will talk forever in these hills about this game, this instant classic, this controversial, hard-to-believe, wild-west-show of a ballgame won by Oregon 34-33 in a score that doesn't do the drama justice. Maybe they will say this was the birth of some mysterious, unexplainable force. Maybe they even will christen it Duck Magic. Hundreds of thousands of Oregonians, even those who walked out of Autzen Stadium with five minutes to go, will say they saw it and stormed the field and danced with glee hard by the Willamette River. Left to be written is how the Sooners will look on Oregon 2006. An Oklahoma football program staggered over the last 20 months was poised to return to elite status. Poised to announce its return to national-contender status. Poised to roar again. Then the Sooners collapsed. Collapsed in a way never before seen in crimson. Collapsed so dramatically, you wonder if it might just hasten the Sooner tailspin. Said OU linebacker Zach Latimer, "Hurts really bad." Said tight end Joe Jon Finley, "Hurts more than anything in the world." Even Bob Stoops, who generally goes light on the descriptive, called the verdict, "frustrating, maddening, whatever you want to say." Here's why it was maddening. Since January 2005, the Sooners suffered an embarrassing blowout at the hands of USC, a mediocre season in '05 and the Rhett Bomar summer scandal. Yet late on this pristine Oregon afternoon, Oklahoma looked primed to rejoin the big boys. The Sooners, who seemed in danger of being routed when Oregon took a 10-0 lead and ignited its thunderous crowd, instead seemed ready to roll itself. Adrian Peterson ran possessed and receivers made circus catches and OU scored 33 points in a 44-minute span. A gaping OU defense finally found itself, giving up just 10 points over a 51-minute span. Frankly, considering all factors, including the environment that was everything it was cracked up to be, this was going to be one of the three or four most impressive victories of the Stoops era. Let's see. Florida State. Maybe Kansas State 2000. The Texas mercy killings. Then disaster struck. Defense let down. Replay calls went against the Sooners. Oregon blocked Garrett Hartley's last-play field-goal try. Can the Sooners recover? They say yes, but what else can they say? The 1981 Sooners, ranked No. 2 nationally, suffered an anguishing defeat at Southern Cal and tailspun into a three-season slump. This is the kind of game that leaves doubts. Like, why is this defense so bad? The Sooners keep changing personnel, but they keep getting beat deep. Can't blame this one on D.J. Wolfe. Like, will the replay officials ever give the Sooners a break? This was no Lubbock train robbery, but two reviews that in the final 66 seconds could have gone either way went to the Ducks. Like, can the Sooners punch it in enough, after three field goals came following first-and-goals from the Oregon 2-, 3- and 7-yard lines? This was a game in Sooner control and it became a Sooner defeat. So what has been happening since that January night in Miami — festering doubt, waning swagger — only worsens. That's Stoops' mission. Remove the doubt, return the swagger. Don't let Duck Magic ruin this Sooner season. Easier said than done. Stoops admitted this loss hurts about as bad as any he's had, but he also repeatedly praised his troops. Truth is, OU did play well. Did show promise. Did look capable of licking every foe left on the schedule. "There's a lot of it that's good," Stoops said. "This is a heck of an environment to compete in."Comments
OU vs. Oregon Sooners disagree with review calls
OU wonders: What happened
Scene & heard
THREE QUESTIONS WITH: Oregon's Brian Paysinger
Last three plays
How Oregon saw it: Inside the onside kick
OU injury report
Middle Tennessee State at Oklahoma• When: 6 p.m., Saturday • Where: Norman • TV: Pay-per-view • Radio: KRXO-FM 107.7; KOKC-AM 1520
Gone in 26 secondsOU's lead is 33-20 and superfan Toby Keith is in full celebration mode with less than two minutes left. Here's how that lead disappeared in 26 seconds, with the aid of some blown assignments and two huge instant-replay calls.
Blown assignmentsFirst, Dennis Dixon steps up in the pocket and converts a third-and-14, finding Jaison Williams all alone at the OU 16. Then Dixon scrambles untouched into the end zone. The PAT kick pulls the Ducks within 33-27 with 1:12 left.
Blown call?Did Oregon recover the ensuing onside kick? A TV replay shows OU's Allen Patrick falling on it and walking away from the pile after it squirts through the hands of Oregon's Patrick Chung and the legs of OU's Juaquin Iglesias. That aspect was not reviewed.
Blown call IITwo plays later, OU's Darien Williams is flagged for pass interference on Brian Paysinger near the OU 20.
Blown coveragePaysinger stutter-steps past OU's Nic Harris at the 19 and — with no help for Harris from a safety — is wide open in the end zone to catch Dixon's 23-yard pass to make it 33-33. The point-after kick provides the winning margin.
Four turnovers, still no winTurnovers are the biggest play in football. But not Saturday. Oregon committed four turnovers and OU committed none, though it was credited with a lost fumble on the late onside kick. Rare is the game when a team with a three-turnover deficit wins. Oregon overcame it with sheer offensive prowess. The Ducks finished with 26 first downs and 501 total yards. By Berry Tramel
New startersAs expected, OU made changes in the secondary. Lendy Holmes replaced D.J. Wolfe at cornerback and Jason Carter replaced Keenan Clayton at strong safety. Marcus Walker also saw plenty of action at cornerback. Wolfe played only on special teams. Also, Ian Pleasant started at fullback, replacing the injured Matt Clapp. By George Schroeder and Blake Jackson