We have seen more ups than downs in this review of the Oklahoma Sooners football program. Though, I’ll be honest, that last article was hard to write. I even ruined the day of one our great readers by bringing up John Blake. Which again, I apologize. But unfortunately, it is just a part of the history of Oklahoma. The Sooner Nation, would survive those dark times. A man by the name of Bob Stoops rewarded fans for sticking through with Oklahoma during the painful 90’s.
How? By winning Oklahoma’s seventh national title. In Coach Stoops’ second year, he brought Oklahoma back to being a contender. Not a bad way to open up the new millennium. Especially, with the fears of potential Armageddon, and the end of our civilization caused by the Y2K thing. Oklahoma brought home the Crystal Ball after all of that. I would have to say, that’s pretty awesome.
During the 2000 season, Oklahoma decimated its opponents. After reading what happened in John Blake’s era, penitence was needed to be exacted. To return balance to the force…..or whatever. Oklahoma’s closest contest during the regular season would be the Bedlam game, with Oklahoma winning 12-7. The Sooners, would go on an impressive run and defeat teams that were highly ranked. In a three week stretch, Oklahoma would beat the then #11 Texas Longhorns, #2 Kansas State Wildcats, and the top-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers.
The Red River Shootout game was a game that showed Oklahoma was now back to its winning ways. Texas fell and fell hard, 63-14. Kansas State was the only team in that three week stand that put up a close game falling 41-31. Oklahoma would then knock off number one Nebraska, 31-14. Oklahoma would of course go on to defeat the number 1 team in the nation twice in one year, beating two touchdown favorite Florida State, 13-2, securing the championship.
2001, would not quite be the same type of year for Oklahoma. OU did not have the offensive fire power with Josh Heupel out of the mix. The Sooners still had their feature running back Quentin Griffin, though, the defense would more than make up for the lack of offensive capability that would plague the Sooners in that 2001 season. Title aspirations would be dashed by a shocking defeat to Oklahoma State, 13-16.
Oklahoma ranked third the majority of the year, and spent some time ranked second, and fourth, despite a loss earlier in the season to Nebraska. Oklahoma would go on to defeat the SEC’s Arkansas Razorbacks, 10-3, in the Cotton Bowl Classic. A good year to go 11-2, however, disappointment for not being able to defend their national title would some what dampen the spirits.
2002, another solid year for Coach Stoops. Oklahoma would begin the year ranked number one, once again with title hopes. Oklahoma would spend most of the year in the top five spending quite a bit of time at the number one and two ranks.
Oklahoma had better offensive production than in the previous year. Oklahoma would defeat third-ranked Texas, and defeat Alabama in an out-of-conference game. However, the Sooners suffered disappointing losses to Texas A&M and Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma earned another BCS Berth by beating tenth-ranked Colorado in convincing fashion in the Big 12 Championship Game. Oklahoma earned a trip to the Rose Bowl, and won the “Grand Daddy of Them All” by beating seventh-ranked Washington State, 34-14.
The 2003 season, Oklahoma had exploded offensively. OU would go on to defeat their opponents by a combined 580-120 for this season. Which, is an average score of 48-13. The offensive production was the highest in the Bob Stoops tenure at this point in the 2000’s.
Oklahoma seemed unstoppable, including a memorable win over the Texas A&M Aggies by a score of 77-0. They were unstoppable, and undefeated. That is, until they met Kansas State in the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma would be beat down handedly, 35-7.
However, that was still not enough to sway from voting Oklahoma into the National Championship Game. Oklahoma faced LSU, but would drop their second game of the season losing 21-14.
Despite the title loss, 2003 produced Oklahoma’s fourth Heisman Trophy winner in Jason White, who’s career wasn’t quite over in Norman just yet.
In 2004, Oklahoma continued being an offensive juggernaut with White under center and a true freshman running back by the name of Adrian Peterson.
This time, Oklahoma took care of business in the regular season, and the Big 12 Championship, with a 42-3 beating of the Colorado Buffaloes.
Oklahoma once again appeared to be unstoppable, defeating several ranked opponents, including fifth ranked Texas. The undefeated season earned Oklahoma a repeat trip to the title game. This time they would face top-ranked USC and Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinhart, who beat out Peterson and White for the award.
The dominance that Oklahoma displayed over the last two years, was given back to the Sooners that night in Pasadena. Oklahoma would end up being embarrassed by Pete Carroll’s Trojans, 55-19. However, this title was vacated by Southern Cal, due to NCAA violations, stemming from improper benefits.
2005 would be a let down year for the Sooners. Oklahoma started off by losing to TCU in Norman, after beginning the year ranked eighth in the nation. Paul Thompson would be benched after the TCU loss, and in came a young, promising quarterback in Rhett Bomar. However, two weeks later, Oklahoma would lose badly against UCLA, 41-24. Also, Texas ended its Red River losing streak and finally beat Bob Stoops by a large margin in a game where the offense was unable to produce much against Texas, losing to the eventual National Champs, 45-12.
The Sooners would appeared to get their act back together for a month, just to lose a controversial and closely contested game to Texas Tech, 21-23. This is what would be considered a down year for Oklahoma, going 8-4. Stoops and Co. would salvage their pride by knocking off sixth-ranked Oregon in the Holiday Bowl 17-14, ending the year ranked 22nd.
Despite the dismissal of starting quarterback Rhett Bomar, Oklahoma came in with a better outlook on the 2006 season…until controversy would derail them. The infamous onside kick in Eugene, Oregon. This would be the first year that instant replay was utilized for official reviews, and they still GOT IT WRONG!!!! To this day, I still get angry when I talk about Oklahoma-Oregon from 2006.
This would appear to be a bad omen for the season, though the only other loss came to Texas during the regular season, Oklahoma still earned a BCS berth by beating Nebraska in the Big 12 title game, only to be shocked in the Fiesta Bowl in overtime to Boise State by a trick play no college football fan will ever let OU live down. Though, if you can put losing to Boise State out of your mind, Oklahoma did have a record of 10-3, and beat multiple top 25 opponents. Certainly an improvement from 2005.
Oklahoma once again had aspirations with 2007 to bring home the eighth national title. Oklahoma would dominate most of the games they played in during this year under their fourth quarterback in four years. Sam Bradford took the helm as a freshman, and we all know how he turned out.
Although, despite Oklahoma’s success, an unexpected loss to Colorado in Boulder, then follow up with another road loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock, damaged another year where expectations for a title were high and very possible.
Oklahoma continued to produce at a high offensive level. During the regular season, Oklahoma did not drop below tenth, spending a great deal of the season ranked fourth. Oklahoma would go on to defeat the top-ranked team in the country in the Big 12 title game; taking down the Missouri Tigers, 38-17.
Sounds like a good year overall though, going 11-2, and earning another trip to the Fiesta Bowl. They were heavily favored to beat future Big 12 member West Virginia. Unfortunately, in this case, David does beat Goliath—again. West Virginia came out and punched Oklahoma in the mouth early and never looked back, routing the Sooners, 48-28.
Oklahoma during the first part of the 2000’s showed good success, as well as sour, disappointing defeats. Oklahoma overall was more successful, than not during this stretch.
From 2000-2007, the Sooners would have a winning record of 90-17 (.841), which went along with a Heisman winner, various national award winners, multiple All-Americans, six BCS bowl trips, five Big 12 championships, and one all important crystal ball.
My colleague, Diego Galaviz, finishes out the final installment of this series, continuing with the remaining years of the 2000’s and taking the legacy into the here and now.