Oklahoma 63, Texas 14

October 7, 2000 | at Dallas | Attendance 75,587

The heated football rivalry between neighboring states Oklahoma and Texas began way back in 1900. Ever since '29 the two have played during the Texas State Fair, and then a dozen years later, the game was the first to be played in the Cotton Bowl. The first television broadcast of the game came in '48, and for the last 100 years the Oklahoma-Texas rivalry has been one of the very best in college football. There's no win savored more by native-born Texans, with the possible exception of a national championship, than one in which the Longhorns lay a good old-time kicking to Sooners' rears, and visa-versa. Out of the 94 times the two have met on the gridiron, Texas has won more than half of the time, and leads the series by some 20 games (55-34-5). Now came the next century.

Bob Stoops and his staff didn't need much time to turn things around at Oklahoma. Before Stoops led the Sooners to seven victories and a bowl game in 1999, they had won just 12 games in the previous three seasons and hadn't finished above .500 since '93. The clear change of direction got fans in Norman excited again, and had them revved up for this year, as 63,000 season tickets were sold, which was the most since '88, legendary coach Barry Switzer's final year.

"I've asked all along for expectations to change," Stoops said. "I was offended last year when people didn't think we would win games or whether we'd be a bowl team. That's just how I am. I want our players to feel those expectations, and we do."

Ranked #19 in the 2000 AP preseason poll and projected to challenge Texas for the Big 12 South title, the Sooners started with a soft September schedule at home that resulted in wins over non-conferences foes Texas-El Paso, Arkansas State and Rice, and Big 12 opponent Kansas. Now came a brutal October stretch for tenth-ranked Oklahoma that began in Dallas with the annual Red River rivalry game against the Longhorns, followed by a visit to #4 Kansas State before hosting #2 Nebraska, two teams that haven't been on their schedule the past two years.

Leading the way for the Sooners, who were averaging a nation's fifth-best 44 points per game, was senior quarterback Josh Heupel, a possible Heisman candidate coming off a record-setting year for passing efficiency, yardage and touchdowns who directed a free-wheeling offense. In '99, Oklahoma threw two-thirds of the time, but the emergence of sophomore running back Quentin Griffin had helped lighten the load. On the other side of the ball was a quick and talented defense that allowed 12.8 points per game, and it was led by reigning Big 12 defensive player of the year, linebacker Rocky Calmus.

Meanwhile, in Austin, it was starting to look like it might be the breakthrough year for third year coach Mack Brown. Until he came along, Texas had not put together two consecutive nine-win seasons since 1982-83 under Fred Akers, and now, there was renewed confidence not seen since legendary coach Darrell Royal's 20-year rule produced 167 wins, 11 conference titles and the three national championships. In just two years, Brown had restored the pride and passion back into Texas football. His teams had won 18 games, including two victories against Nebraska in three tries, and title hopes were high despite a 9-5 season in '99 that ended with losses to Texas A&M, Nebraska in the Big 12 title game, and Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.

For 2000, the Longhorns were being billed as a national top-10 team, despite Brown's personal concern's, and the runaway favorite to win the Big 12's South division for the second consecutive season. They returned 18 starters, nine on each side of the ball, and even though the lineup was young, it was talented. Coming into the season, the only big question mark was at quarterback, where heralded sophomore Chris Simms and rehabilitating junior Major Applewhite, '99 Big 12 co-offensive player of the year, had created a monster of hype between them in their bid to claim the job. But helping ease the burden was senior running back Hodges Mitchell, who a year earlier had rushed for a conference-best 1,343 yards after backing up Heisman winner Ricky Williams for two seasons, while leading the defense was the best set of tackles in the country, standouts Casey Hampton, a first team all-American, and Shaun Rogers, all-Big 12.

The Longhorns came into Dallas with a 3-1 record and ranked #11, having been upset 27-24 at Stanford the second week. Regardless of the quarterback situation in which both have played, the team was averaging 41.5 points per game, and the solid defense was doing their part, having allowed only 11 points per game, placing it #13 in the country. In any event, the Oklahoma-Texas game would go a long way toward determining who would represent the south division in Kansas City.

Because of Stoops and Brown, for was the first time since 1984, both teams enteried their traditional meeting on the second Saturday in October came in ranked. Texas also came in having won each of the last three meetings, and eight of the last 11, but Oklahoma, which last beat the Longhorns 30-27 in overtime in '95, was looking for revenge from last season's meeting, when they led 17-0, only to lose, 38-28. On a cold, rainy and dreary afternoon, the 49-degree temperature at kickoff made it one of the coldest in the century-old series, most of the rain seemed to fall on Texas, as Oklahoma sliced through the Longhorn defense like a soggy corn dog.

On their first drive, Heupel threw a guided missile over Texas' Roderick Babers to receiver Andre Woolfork for a 29-yard touchdown, completing a five-play drive in 1:16, and Tim Duncan's extra point made it 7-0. Applewhite, who had already beaten Oklahoma twice, got the start over Simms, but couldn't move the Texas offense, and they punted the ball away.

On the Sooners' next series, another Heupel perfect placement and catch, a 20-yard toss to tight end Matt Anderson over Dakarai Pearson, helped set up a third down-and goal at the Texas one. From there, an option pitch from Heupel to Griffin punched it across to make it 14-0 Oklahoma, which is how the opening period ended, marking the eighth consecutive game that the Longhorns had not scored in the first quarter.

An interference penalty on Texas' Quentin Jammer, who pushed off of Woolfolk in the end zone to make an interception, set up a two-yard scoring plunge by Griffin barely half a minute into the second quarter. Texas was again forced to punt by the Sooners' defense, and J.T. Thatcher's 53-yard return set up another Griffin score, a four-yard run, to put Oklahoma well ahead, 28-0.

Getting in on the action, the Sooners' defense got on the board. Calmus, playing with a cast on his broken left thumb, intercepted a Simms pass and returned it 41 yards for a 35-0 lead. It would keep Heupel off the field longer, who between touchdown drives kept warm on the sideline by throwing into a net, with the inanimate object providing the only real resistance he was facing on the afternoon.

Oklahoma's next offensive possession resulted in an eight-yard scoring run by receiver Curtis Fagan on an end-around, the fifth straight time Texas' defense could not stop them. That made the score 42-0 with 4:43 still left until halftime, realistically putting the game out of reach and making sure there would be no Texas comeback this time around.

Following Applewhite's seven-yard scoring pass to Mitchell for Texas' first score, the Sooners actually had another chance to score with 2:48 left in the second quarter, but Stoops took mercy and ran five times to burn the clock. They took a 42-7 lead up the ramp and into the locker room.

By halftime, the Sooners had scored on all five of their drives, three short ones, consisting of two, five and eight plays, and two long ones of 11 and 14 plays. Their six touchdowns were one more than the number of first downs Texas had accumulated, and the 42 points were two shy of what the Longhorns had allowed in their previous four games combined.

The Oklahoma defense was also off to a good start. They didn't allow Texas to cross midfield in the first two quarters, getting only as close as the 42, and in five of the first six possessions, the Longhorns were forced to punt, with the other being Calmus' interception. Texas had a net of 13 yards rushing at halftime, and if not for a 21-yard burst by Mitchell late in the half, they would have been in negative yardage. But seven first half penalties also shackled the Horns as they tried to get back into the game.

When the two teams returned to the field, the debacle continued. Texas started the third quarter at their 43 after a short punt, only to waste it with another interception. From there, the Oklahoma onslaught resumed, and to borrow a phrase from former coaching legend Barry Switzer, the Sooners "hung half-a-hundred on 'em" and kept going.

Griffin added two more touchdowns in the third quarter, a three-yard burst not even two minutes in and an eight-yard run with 1:26 remaining, to make it 56-7. After Texas' Kevin Hayter went across for a one-yard plunge at the 14:09 mark of the final period, Griffin closed the scoring with a one-yard run at the 9:32 mark, his school-record sixth of the game, to make it a laugher, 63-14. By then, Heupel was on the sidelines and sophomore Georgia transfer Nate Hybl was mopping up, Switzer must have been smiling to see so many touchdowns come on the ground, seven to be exact, and the celebration began.

When the Sooners' three-game slide against the Longhorns was officially over, the outpouring of joy seemed pretty spontaneous. Players did victory laps along the stands, slapping hands with some fans, and hugging others. Cheerleaders alternately waved fingers signifying "Number One" and the upside down version of "Hook 'em Horns". And a red and white "OU" flag was shoved into the midfield stripe, the Sooner Schooner was rolling up the sideline, and Oklahoma players and coaches were gathering at the 20-yard line for an impromptu team photo.

Oklahoma's historic rout was sweet revenge and put an exclamation point on their best start since 1993, as the Sooners scored their most points since beating New Mexico State 73-3 in '89, the first game under Gary Gibbs. It was only the third time in the last 13 meetings that the margin of victory was in double digits, but the Sooners came within a point of the biggest blowout, a 50-0 Oklahoma win in 1908, and the 77 combined points were another series record. Overall, Oklahoma stills trails in the series, 55-35-5.

"Our game plan was to get off fast, hold the lead and play a full 60 minutes," Stoops said afterwards. "This says a lot about the program. What a difference a year makes." He continued, "This was a total team victory. Everybody made plays. ... We had a little bit of everything."

For Texas, it was the most humiliating loss since a 66-3 pounding at home by UCLA in '97, John Mackovic's last season as coach, dropping the Horns from #11 all the way out of the top 25, and what just happened on the field may result in the same ramifications. "I want to apologize to all of the Texas fans, our players and assistant coaches," Brown offered. "You can't play that poorly and have a head coach do anything right during the week."

For Oklahoma, they had 534 total yards, the most they had ever gained against Texas, with 289 coning through the air and 245 via the ground. Heupel was the epitome of efficiency in completing 17 of 27 passes for 275 yards and no interceptions, albeit below his usual standards. Griffin led all rushers with 87 yards on 23 carries, in addition to those half a dozen scores.

And as good as the offense was, the defense was just as devastating in chalking up four sacks, two interceptions, and holding the Longhorns to 154 total yards, their minus-7 yards representing a school record for its lowest regular-season output ever. "We would look like we were coming with a different defense than we were actually running," said Calmus. "The coaches did a great job preparing and disguising stuff for us."

The Texas quarterback controversy was a non-issue. Applewhite completed nine of 18 passes for 98 yards, while Simms was 11 for 23 and just 63 yards and was sacked three times. Both quarterbacks were intercepted.

But the problems that have nagged Texas thus far in the season ballooned exponentially against Oklahoma. The lack of a running game, breakdowns on special teams, numerous penalties and a slow-starting offense all combined to make it a miserable day for the burnt orange half of the stadium. Texas players were confused from the start. Offensive and defensive linemen stood before every snap and pointed at Sooners to figure out who they were supposed to block, yet they still didn't do a very good job of it. Texas also hurt itself with penalties, four pre-snap ones on the offense, two on third downs, a pass interference that wiped out an end-zone interception, and a 15-yarder for too many men on the field.

"It wasn't even a game because we did not play in the first half," Brown also said. "I told the guys they would have a surge and then it would be our turn. It didn't happen. They had the surge, and they kept it."

Oklahoma took a big step ahead in the Big 12 South, and combined with Texas A&M's loss to Colorado, the Sooners sat alone atop the division at 2-0. Now, they had a chance to move into the national title picture, but in their next two games they had to contend with North heavyweights Kansas State and Nebraska.

Source: Jeff Linkowski

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