KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The clock ticked down on a remarkable game in a remarkable season, and standing in the bottom row, behind the Oklahoma bench, his body freezing but his spirits soaring, Sooner fan Mike Stamp held aloft his sign.
"Upon Further Review: The OU Sooners are Big XII Champs."
Nice irony. Witty slogan. Just didn't go quite far enough.
These Sooners are more than kings of Middle America college football. They are, quite simply, back. Back from the mediocrity of 2005. Back from the loss they didn't deserve at Oregon and the loss they most certainly did in Dallas. Back in the saddle of national prominence.
OU beat Nebraska 21-7 Saturday night in the Kansas City cold, capping an amazing turnaround from a wild season of Rhett Bomar and Gordon Riese and Adrian Peterson.
"It's great to be so young and perform the way we did in a big game; lets everyone know Oklahoma football is back," said Sooner safety Nic Harris said. "We're back!"
Back in September, Harris was burned for Oregon's winning touchdown pass after the replay fiasco. Saturday night, he had one of OU's three acrobatic interceptions and beamed as the Sooners celebrated at the final gun.
He's come a long way in three months. So have the Sooners.
"Really proud of 'em," said OU president David Boren. "I'm as proud of 'em as I am the national championship team, considering all they've overcome."
Not so very long ago, quarterback Paul Thompson was a backup flanker. Now he's a championship quarterback, joining the legions of Davis and Lott, Watts and Bradley, Holieway and Heupel, Hybl and White. Now he's been the leader who brought the Sooners — headed for the Fiesta Bowl and who-knows-how-high of a national ranking — back onto the national stage.
"It's crazy, man," Thompson said. "It's a dream come true. I definitely wanted to be a leader of this team and leader of a Big 12 championship."
Thompson was a caretaker at times during OU's seven-game winning streak that led to first place in the South Division.