NORMAN, Okla., Nov. 2 - Oklahoma’s payback tour is almost complete. Texas A&M, watch out. The Sooners ended a two-game losing streak against Oklahoma State with a 52-9 thrashing that left Oklahoma on a clear path to the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.
InsertArt(2059227)WITH MIAMI’S LOSS AT Virginia Tech on Saturday, the Sooners are now the nation’s only undefeated team from a major conference and a unanimous choice as the No. 1 team.
Making Saturday’s win a little sweeter for the Sooners was the chance for revenge against a team that derailed their 2001 national title hopes derailed and then beat them 38-28 last year.
Oklahoma State coach Les Miles gave the Sooners a little more incentive when he said during the week that the Sooners were the nation’s best team “or so we are told.”
There’s no more doubt which team is better.
“They said they were going to run the ball over us,” Oklahoma linebacker Teddy Lehman said. “They said, ’There’s a team in Oklahoma that’s No. 1 and we’ll see who it is.’ We came ready to play. We knew if we took care of business it would be great for us.”
Next up for the Sooners is Texas A&M, which stunned them 30-26 at College Station last year.
The Aggies might want to be careful not to incite Oklahoma before the game the way Miles and the Cowboys (7-2, 3-2) did.
“We’ve had to live with a lot of pain over the last two years,” co-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “And it was hard to listen to the media this week.
“We take things personal around here, and (the media) added fuel to the fire all week.”
Jason White threw two touchdown passes and ran for another. But it was Oklahoma’s defense that overwhelmed the nation’s fifth-ranked scoring offense, punctuating its dominance by keeping Oklahoma State out of the end zone on three tries from the 1 early in the fourth quarter.
After the Sooners stuffed fullback Shawn Willis on fourth down, the school-record crowd of 84,027 exploded into cheers, coach Bob Stoops vigorously pumped his fist on the sideline and players celebrated on the field.
“That was huge,” Lehman said. “It was the biggest play of the game. It crushed their spirits.”
Oklahoma State’s lone touchdown came on Darrent Williams’ 11-yard return of an interception 26 seconds into the third quarter. Another White interception set up Oklahoma State’s only other points - a 31-yard field goal by Luke Phillips.
“We showed a lot of pride and toughness on defense,” the coach said. “Our defense not giving up a touchdown all day, that’s the finest defense I’ve seen them play.”
The Cowboys, who came into the game averaging 445 yards, were held to a season-low 161 yards. Oklahoma State dropped seven spots to No. 21 in this week’s AP poll.
“I feel like we never got off the bus,” said Oklahoma State tailback Tatum Bell, who rushed for most of his 122 yards after the game had been decided. “We never left the locker room ready.”
Bob Stoops, a former assistant at Florida under Steve Spurrier, even appeared to rub it in like his old boss used to with a gadget play though the game was already decided.
The Sooners extended their lead to 38-9 late in third quarter on a reverse to receiver Mark Bradley, who then threw the ball to a wide-open Mark Clayton in the end zone. It was Clayton’s 17th career TD reception, setting a school record.
Stoops was still seething during an awkward post-game handshake with Miles.
Asked what Miles told him when they met at midfield, Stoops said: “I didn’t listen to much of it.
“I think he said, ’I guess we found out who the No. 1 team was,’ or something like that. He doesn’t need to tell me what we are.”
As usual, the Sooners got to have the last word.
© 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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