January 3, 2011

Sooners dominated, delayed putting away Fiesta Bowl

The Express-Star


Norman Transcript

GLENDALE, Ariz. — It was all there.

The domination, the stratospheric statistics, the brilliance of Ryan Broyles, the resurgence of Landry Jones, the "stick-to-it-iveness" of a defense that came on strong at the end of the season and did not allow an offensive touchdown Saturday night.

That wasn’t all.

Also, a what-was-he-thinking pass that came back for six points, a how-do-they-keep-allowing-this-stuff kickoff return for a touchdown that momentarily kept the Huskies in the game, even a second-half lull that had to have everybody remembering all those Tuesday press conferences outgoing offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson would speak of all the points the Sooners were leaving on the field.

Then, at the end, the Sooners proved their previous three games had been no mirage.

Here was a team that had learned how to finish and finish it did.

Maybe the greatest catch of Ryan Broyles’ collegiate career (maybe his last catch, too) finally put it all away and Tony Jefferson added an exclamation point interception return and a game that wouldn’t end finally stopped, as it happaned, on th goal line, where OU kept UConn out of the end zone again.

ESPN’s Heather Cox caught up to Bob Stoops and told him he’d just won his first BCS bowl game in six tries and he didn’t want to hear it. Then she asked him about what his players had accomplished at University of Phoenix Stadium and he warmed up a little bit.

It was all there.

Oklahoma knocked off Connecticut 48-20.

The Sooners chased BCS demons by finally chasing away the Huskies’ upset bid.

UConn never really threatened victory, but OU would not put the game away, tooling around like it had so many times this season, against Utah State and Air Force and Cincinnati, until that kind of thing led to losses that robbed OU of it's national championship hopes.

Saturday night, UConn threatened simply by hanging around.

Until it didn’t.

The final score was the final score.

The fourth quarter score was 14-0.

By season’s end, over and over again, the Sooners finished. They finished in Stillwater and Dallas and now the Valley of the Sun.

The middle wasn’t the greatest but nobody asks about the middle. They ask about the end and the Sooners were great in the end.

It was all there.

Landry Jones’ next project must be a crash course in not committing the killing mistake. Off his back foot into a maze of players, the pass he threw that Dwayne Gratz brought back 46 yards was the starting point of UConn staying in the game far longer than it should have.

Yet how can anybody doubt how far the Sooner quarterback has come? Miles and miles and miles. And if you’re prone to doubt him still, well, at least know Josh Heupel had his back.

After Gratz found the end zone, the first thing the first-time play caller did was have his quarterback throw the ball some more. By the time it was over, throwing for 429 yards, Jones had made Sooner bowl history.

How about Broyles?

Too bad they can’t vote the Belitnikoff Award again today. After throwing up on the sideline, more than once, he made the catch of the season and he made it on third down and he ended all the drama.

Amazingly, but for Jimmy Stevens, the special teams weren’t so special. So, if you want to get the Sooners, get on them for that.

Just don’t think what they’ve done this season isn’t special.

It took a while, yes.

Their issues a way from home were befuddling for quite some time. They had a chance to go farther, but they were hardly ready. If only they could have about three weeks of their season back.

Every season is a race and getting their first makes all the difference. At least the Sooners found themselves in time to finish.

It is a big, big deal.

Getting to the Big 12 title game was huge, winning it was bigger, and doing what they did Saturday night makes it all go down smooth.

The Sooner Nation should find little not to like.

It was all there.