EZ Mortgages

No. 20 Oklahoma – A Matter of Perception –

// Oct 21 - 2006

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October 21st – at Oklahoma           No. 20 Oklahoma 24, Colorado 3

The 20th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners played without Heisman trophy candidate Adrian Peterson, but his substitute, Allen Patrick, filled in ably, rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown in leading the Sooners to a 24-3 win in Norman.

Patrick became just the second player to rush for over 100 yards against the Colorado defense in 21 games, needing 35 carries to get to his 110 yards. Still, Patrick’s numbers were impressive when held up to the efforts of the Colorado offense. The Buffs managed just 113 yards of total offense, including only 39 yards passing on three completions.

The night game was played in temperatures in the 40’s and with 20-25 mph winds, keeping offensive production down for both teams.

Playing with the wind in the first quarter, the Sooners built a 10-0 lead, scoring all the points they would need to take down the 1-7 Buffs. Quarterback Paul Thompson connected with Manuel Johnson for a three-yard score to cap a 12-play drive to give the Sooners a 7-0 lead on their first drive. At the end of the quarter, with the wind still at their backs, the Sooners connected on a 46-yard field goal to make it 10-0.

The Colorado offense, held to one first down and 26 total yards playing against the wind in the first quarter, failed to take advantage of the wind in the second. The Buffs did penetrate Sooner territory twice over the next two quarters of play, but came up empty on both trips. One drive ended by a Zach Latimer interception of a Bernard Jackson pass in the Oklahoma end zone, while the other ended with a 56-yard field goal attempt by Mason Crosby drifting wide left.

Neither team scored again until the fourth quarter. A fumbled punt by Stephone Robinson led to a Sooner touchdown early in the fourth quarter, giving Oklahoma an insurmountable 17-0 lead. The Buffs avoided a shutout midway through the final stanza, putting together an 11-play, 51-yard drive, culminated in a 39-yard field goal by Mason Crosby with 6:13 to play.

With the game already in hand, the Sooners nonetheless decided not to take a knee late in the game, scoring on a Chris Brown four-yard run with just 17 seconds remaining to make it a 24-3 final.

 

A Matter of Perception

I wasn’t watching the conclusion of the Fox Sports broadcast of the Colorado/Oklahoma game as the clock ran out on another frustrating loss. I stopped paying attention after the Buffs finally scored late to make the score 17-3. Brad had called right after Mason Crosby’s field goal with 6:13 remaining. His first words were, “I’ll bet you were worried”. He knew that my thoughts of the game, with the winner long since decided, was whether the Buffs’ streak of consecutive games scored in would come to an end at 217.

With the streak extended, and no realistic hope of a Buff comeback, my thoughts turned to what was happening in the Texas A&M/Oklahoma State game, which was tied at 20-all in the fourth quarter. The Buffs didn’t have either Big 12 rival on their schedule this season or next, but with Colorado unable to generate any semblance of an offense, the Big 12 South battle at least provided a distraction. The Aggie/Cowboy game wasn’t televised, so I logged onto the ESPN website to get play-by-play updates.

(The A&M/OSU game did prove to be entertaining. Both teams scored late, with A&M scoring with two seconds remaining to tie the game. The Aggies went on to win in overtime, 34-33, after the Cowboys missed an extra point.)

While “watching” the A&M game, I did check in every minute or two on the CU game. After the Colorado onsides kick attempt failed, it appeared that Oklahoma was methodically running out the clock. When the Sooners made a first down inside the CU five yard line with less than a minute to play, I assumed that 17-3 would be the final score. I had to admit to myself that I didn’t feel too bad about the game. After surrendering an opening drive touchdown, the defense had actually played very well. On the evening, the Sooners would run 75 plays to the Buffs’ 44. With that statistic in mind, only losing by 14, to a ranked team, on the road, did have some positive aspects.

But wait ….

While waiting to see if Texas A&M would be able to score against Oklahoma State with less than a minute remaining in regulation, the CU/Oklahoma score was posted … “Oklahoma 24, Colorado 3”.

What?

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops had not instructed his quarterback to take a knee? The Sooners had scored with 17 second remaining to up the score. I clicked back onto the CU game update to be sure. Yes, Oklahoma had scored again.

Now, I was depressed.

24-3 is miles away from 17-3, at least in terms of national perception.

Oklahoma was a ranked team, so the score would be on the front page of every sports section in the country, and would continuously scrawl across the bottom line of the ESPN stations. What would have been characterized as a hard fought game would now be portrayed as a blowout.

What difference did that make?

One need look no further than the Arizona State game in September. Only six weeks removed from that game, announcers, pundits, and other “experts” were pointing to the 21-3 loss to Arizona State game as one of the few in which the 1-7 Buffs were not “competitive”. The reality was that the game was 14-3 from early in the second quarter until late in the contest. The Buffs were a play or two away from contention for all of the second half, until a Sun Devil touchdown with 1:33 to play made the spread 18 points.

The reality – the Buffs were in the ASU game until the very end.

The perception of reality – the Sun Devils won handily.

Such would hold true for the Oklahoma result. A 17-3 loss to a team which had been forecast by at least one preseason publication (Athlon) to win the national championship would not be perceived as a humiliating loss, but merely a stepping stone to building a better team. Now, the Buffs would be labeled a team which had been dominated, a team which had been eliminated from bowl consideration before Halloween, a team back amongst the “struggling” teams at the bottom of the NCAA pecking order.

Thanks, Bob Stoops, for running up the score, I thought to myself. I went to bed that night hoping we would get the chance to repay the favor someday.

Someday soon.

Here is a link to the YouTube video of the game, courtesy of CU at the Gamer Paul

 

 

Game Notes …

– The Buffs had only 113 yards of total offense (in 44 plays) against the Sooners. Sadly, that was actually an improvement over the last time the two teams met. In the 2004 Big 12 championship game, the Colorado offense had only 46 total yards (also in 44 plays);

– Linebacker Thaddaeus Washington recorded a career-high 19 tackles (12 solo) against the Sooners, with fellow linebacker Jordon Dizon chipping in 15 tackles. Washington’s four third-down stops were a season high for the Buff defense. The pair would go on to finish 1-2 in total tackles in 2006, with Dizon posting 137 (80 unassisted); Washington 107 (60 unassisted);

– The 271 yards of total offense allowed to Oklahoma proved to be the second-best effort of the season by the Buff defense (248 by Colorado State);

– Oklahoma would go on to finish 7-1 in Big 12 play in 2006, winning the Big 12 South. The No. 8 Sooners then took down No. 19 Nebraska, 21-7, in the Big 12 title game to win the conference championship. Oklahoma then took on Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, with the Broncos earning a 43-42 overtime victory in one of the more memorable bowl games in history.

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