The Norman Transcript


January 3, 2008

It was over before it even started

By Clay Horning

Transcript Sports Editor

GLENDALE, Ariz. — History may claim Oklahoma lost Wednesday night’s Fiesta Bowl the moment Pat White took off around the left side for a 42-yard third quarter gain. Because the touchdown it set up on the very next play, a 14-yard reverse from Darius Reynaud, gave West Virginia a 21 point lead with only a quarter and change remaining.

But history would be wrong.

It’s impossible to know the exact time and place the Sooners lost their fourth straight entry into the Bowl Championship Series. All that’s certain is it happened sometime prior to the 7:23 p.m. kick. All that’s certain is, upon its arrival at University of Phoenix Stadium, this team wasn’t ready to play.

Irony, perhaps, or just a certain justice to it all, the Sooners, in moments they played their best, looked like the team that was supposed to win. But for the second straight season, even in the same stadium, it doesn’t matter.

Because of a horribly slow start, all the second-half heroics of a year ago couldn’t put the required distance between the Sooners and the Broncos’ bag of tricks. And because of the same this time around, and 83 other mistakes along the way, the biggest one of all, perhaps, from the head coach himself, OU could never dig itself out of the hole its game-time slumber created.

Worse, it’s not even a case of the Sooners finding themselves, only too late. OU started scoring. Sam Bradford gave the nation a preview of what Big 12 secondaries must face for years to come. But the Sooners never quit killing themselves with penalty after penalty after penalty and, there in the second half, defensive bust after defensive bust after defensive bust.

Indeed, there may have been one solitary moment, one window of opportunity in which OU afforded itself the chance to think about reversing its recently listless January football plight. Bu that was the moment, in a game filled with miscues, gaffes, snafus and comedic error that Bob Stoops chose to perpetrate the most costly one of all.

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