Oklahoma 14, Texas 3

October 6, 2001 | 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 95 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, and now came the next century.

What coach Bob Stoops, his staff and his players accomplished at Oklahoma in 2000 was truly remarkable. The brain trust made all the right moves, and not only did the Sooners record the first 13-0 season in school history, they did it with a group of players who were relatively inexperienced and still scarred from being involved in a program that spent the 1990's regressing into a modern-day version of the Keystone Cops.

Now, they came in to the Red River rivalry as the defending champs, winners of 17 straight games, 4-0 and ranked third behind top-ranked Miami and Florida. They certainly were wearing a bull's eye on their uniforms, but this is a team with an embarrassment of depth and talent at almost every position. Still, they came in having survived a 38-37 scare against Kansas State in their conference opener.

The potent offense of last year hadn't missed a beat behind junior Nate Hybl, a transfer from Georgia, but only once in the last nine years has a team opened a season with a new starting quarterback and finished as the national champion, something Tennessee did in '98 and Oklahoma will try to match. The backfield returned both top performers, junior Quentin Griffin, who had scored 16 touchdowns in '00, and sophomore Renaldo Works. And five junior receivers returned to provide a variety of targets, speedy deep threats, physical slant runners and any combinations of those talents, led by Andre Woolfolk and Antwone Savage. They came in averaging exactly 40 points per game.

On defense, Oklahoma lost two stars to the NFL, but they had a ton of returning starters, and the line was even stronger with sophomore tackle Kory Klein and senior end Corey Heinecke. Behind them, senior consensus all-American linebacker Rocky Calmus was the heart of the unit, and stepping in was sophomore Teddy Lehman, who looked like the next great one in a long line of Sooners' linebackers. And their secondary ranked as one of the best in the country with a pair of superstars, sophomore cornerback Derek Strait and junior strong safety Roy Williams. It was a unit that had surrendered an average of 19.25 points per game.

Meanwhile, in Austin, the Longhorns returned 17 starters from last years' 9-3 team, and under fourth-year coach Mack Brown, have gone from national afterthoughts much of the 1990's to major contenders to start the 21st century. After four blowouts, Texas (4-0) came in ranked fifth in the nation, and after playing Oklahoma, the schedule couldn't be any nicer, as Colorado came to Austin and they did not have to face #4 Nebraska or #12 Kansas State. Not looking ahead, but should the Horns slip past Oklahoma, they would be the front-runners for the Big XII title game, opposite possibly one of those teams, and lest anyone offer, national title contention.

Texas retuned nine starters on offense, and there wasn't a better 1-2 quarterback combination in the nation other than junior Chris Simms and senior Major Applewhite, who went down with an injury for the second straight year in '00, and Simms never looked back. And if you're a Longhorn fan, you couldn't help but have confidence in the offense, which if they found a dependable runner, sophomore Ivan Williams was leading so far, had the capability of scoring 40 points or more per game behind a talented group of receivers led by the unbelievable tandem of sophomores B.J. Johnson and Roy Williams. They came into the Oklahoma game averaging 45 point per game.

The defense was also talented at almost every position, the only question was replacing two superstar tackles, but they had adequate replacements. The linebacker corps returned intact, and was led by Da'Andre Lewis in the middle, with Evrick Rawls and Tyrone Jones on his flanks. And three players returned in a secondary that had led the nation in passing efficiency in '00. Collectively, they had permitted an average of 13.5 points per game.

Meanwhile, in Austin, the Longhorns returned 17 starters from last years' 9-3 team, and under fourth-year coach Mack Brown, have gone from national afterthoughts much of the 1990's to major contenders to start the 21st century. After four blowouts, Texas (4-0) came in ranked fifth in the nation, and after playing Oklahoma, the schedule couldn't be any nicer, as Colorado came to Austin and they did not have to face #4 Nebraska or #12 Kansas State. Not looking ahead, but should the Horns slip past Oklahoma, they would be the front-runners for the Big XII title game, opposite possibly one of those teams, and lest anyone offer, national title contention.

Texas retuned nine starters on offense, and there wasn't a better 1-2 quarterback combination in the nation other than junior Chris Simms and senior Major Applewhite, who went down with an injury for the second straight year in '00, and Simms never looked back. And if you're a Longhorn fan, you couldn't help but have confidence in the offense, which if they found a dependable runner, sophomore Ivan Williams was leading so far, had the capability of scoring 40 points or more per game behind a talented group of receivers led by the unbelievable tandem of sophomores B.J. Johnson and Roy Williams. They came into the Oklahoma game averaging 45 point per game, fourth best in the nation.

The defense was also talented at almost every position, the only question was replacing two superstar tackles, but they had adequate replacements. The linebacker corps returned intact, and was led by Da'Andre Lewis in the middle, with Everick Rawls and Tyrone Jones on his flanks. And three players returned in a secondary that had led the nation in passing efficiency in '00. Collectively, they had permitted an average of 13.5 points per game.

This would be the first time that both teams came into the game ranked in the top five since 1984, when #1 Texas and #3 Oklahoma played to a 15-15 tie. This season, the Longhorns were looking for revenge from last year's 63-14 stomping by the Sooners. Brown's team rebounded from that crushing loss by winning ten of their final 11 games, losing on in a bowl.

In front of a sold out crowd of 75,587 at the Cotton Bowl, Texas went to a 3-4 defensive alignment and was improved, but so were the Sooners, and the two teams played a scoreless first quarter. Oklahoma held steady despite the fact that its usually reliable kicker, Tim Duncan, missed two field goals.

In the second quarter, Texas' Dusty Mangum had his 35-yard attempt blocked by Woolfolk. Oklahoma took over, but after taking a hit from linebacker Everick Rawls and injuring his shoulder, Hybl was knocked out of the game, having completed four of ten passes for 25 yards. In came backup sophomore quarterback Jason White.

And in his absence, White was solid. He ran the option three times, pitching perfectly to Griffin for a 17-yard gain on a fourth down-and-two from the 30 with about six minutes to go, and then picked up 11 on a keeper. To cap the drive, White handed to Griffin, who had six touchdowns in the '00 game, for a two-yard score. Tim Duncan's extra point made it 7-0 at the 5:56 mark of the second period.

Texas did come back to score when Mangum kicked one through the uprights from 27 yards out with 14 seconds left in the first half. It sent the teams to the locker room with the scoreboard showing a 7-3 Oklahoma lead.

Both defenses continued to dominate the game, and the scoreless third period sent the game into the final 15 minutes unchanged, still Oklahoma leading, 7-3. Texas had never been able to establish a running game, partly because Simms was effectively passing. But the Sooners were giving him the short passes and taking away anything deep. He spread the ball so well that he used eight receivers in the first two quarters, and nine overall, however, no pass went more than 25 yards.

Midway through the quarter, Simms tried to bring the Longhonrs back, and drove them deep into Oklahoma territory. Once again the Sooners' defense came up big, as Antonio Perkins intercepted Simms' pass into the end zone, ending the threat.

Oklahoma drove down the field, and faced with a critical decision on a fourth down In Texas territory. While Stoops thought that Duncan would make a field goal even after missing from 24 and 42 yards, his brother Mike, the co-defensive coordinator, suggested going for better field position. The Sooners lined up for the kick, then holder White, who had a great game in his substitution role, flipped the ball to Duncan. His pooch-punt was headed into the end zone for a touchback until Texas' Nathan Vasher, who thought it a pass instead off a fake field goal, caught it at the three-yard line and dropped to the ground. If the ball would have gone into the end zone, the Longhorns could have taken over at the 20 with 2:06 remaining, instead, they had 97 yards to march against a tough Oklahoma defense.

Then Mike suggested to his brother that the Sooners blitz. Bob agreed, Williams sprinted through the Texas offensive line from his safety position, leaped over a blocker as high as he could, and hit Simms as he threw. It caused the ball to flutter into the air, where Lehman gladly plucked it, and walked two yards into the end zone for a touchdown. Duncan's extra point put Oklahoma up, 14-3, with 2:01 left in the game.

Simms tried to work the field in the final minutes and threw across the middle, but Williams intercepted, Simms' third in as many possessions and fourth of the game, putting the final nail in Texas' coffin.

So that was how you go about defending a national championship? Oklahoma apparently knew exactly how to do it, even though they didn't dominate the Longhorns this time; they tricked 'em instead. The Sooners added salt to Texas' open wound with a 14-3 win.

With the victory, Oklahoma stretched its winning streak to 18 games and handed the Longhorns a loss for the second straight year. It also was the second straight game against a top five team that the Sooners did not allow an offensive touchdown. The other was their 13-2 victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl for the national championship. The 17 points was the fewest in the 96-game, 101-year series since '91, and it came one year after their combined 77 points set a series record. In addition, Texas scored the fewest points it has managed since losing to UCLA, 66-3, in '97.

Oklahoma was held to only 206 yards total, but they made the most of what they had to work with. The Sooners capitalized on a handful of Texas mistakes and held steady when Hybl left the game. White came in and did not make any errors along the way, completing 16 of 23 passes for 108 yards, and ran 12 times for a team-high 38 yards. Griffin, who had minus-1 yards before his 17-yard option run, finished with 27 yards.

"Jason showed great leadership and toughness," Stoops said. "He executed exceptionally well today coming off the bench. He had a solid game all around."

"I felt like that was our opportunity," said Simms, who was 24 of 42 for 198 yards with four interceptions and was sacked five times. Texas receiver Roy Williams had six catches for 65 yards, but five for 54 yards came in the first quarter. That was all the Horns could muster, and with a running game that picked up just 27 yards, they were going nowhere.

"We couldn't be more pleased," said Bob Stoops, who won his eighth straight game against a ranked team since losing to #23 Texas in '99. "This is a special game for our players. Just coming down that tunnel, the atmosphere, the players enjoy that. The OU-Texas rivalry is back to where it should be."

It also affected the national scene, as Oklahoma improved to 5-0, in the driver's seat in the Big XII South, and Texas dropped to 4-1. The Longhorns can only hope that it hasn't derailed their season, as they were left once again to pick up the pieces. The Sooners must lose two more conference games for Texas to have a chance of returning to Dallas for the Big XII championship on December 1st.

"We have to force some luck into the season now," coach Brown said, "because we don't control our own destiny anymore. The only thing that we can do is make sure that we win out the rest of our games."

Source: Jeff Linkowski

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