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Archive for Sunday, October 7, 2001

Oklahoma beat UT because of genius

Defending national champion Sooners don’t win 18 games in a row on luck

October 7, 2001

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— Genius is hard to see sometimes, even on a brilliant fall afternoon, even from way up in a press box, or from across a football field.

Bob Stoops let us in on how it works Saturday.

His Sooners are about to try a field goal with a little more than two minutes left in a close game at the Cotton Bowl. A field goal will only put his team up by seven, but it seems the logical thing to do.

Bob thought so, anyway. And then little brother, Mike, his co-defensive coordinator, comes running down the sideline and it's Youngstown, Ohio, all over again, the Stoops boys drawing up plays in the dirt.

Mike: "I think we really ought to pooch kick here and put the ball inside the 10."

Bob: "All right. I'm gonna go with it."

So they do. And now the pressure is off Tim Duncan, who has missed 6 of his last 7 field goals, including a 24-yarder. He can't drive one down the middle, but Duncan hits a flop shot as if he's Phil Mickelson, the ball floating down inside the Texas 5.

And even at that, it's probably going to hit and roll into the end zone, the ball coming out to the 20. But Longhorn safety Nathan Vasher says later that he thinks it's a pass and catches it.

So now Texas has the ball at the 2 instead of the 20. And Mike Stoops comes running down to plot with his big brother again.

Mike: "I think we're gonna come after 'em this time."

Bob: "That sounds good to me, too."

And so they do. Only they tell safety Roy Williams to keep his feet, don't jump, and he does anyway, vaulting over the man blocking him. He hits Chris Simms as he's releasing the ball, which flutters out of his hand and into middle linebacker Teddy Lehman's, who scores.

You could call this good luck if you want to. You could say it was a fluke when, at the Texas 30 on a fourth-and-2 in the second quarter, with their second-string quarterback, Jason White, in the game, Quentin Griffin takes an option left for 17 yards. And, after White runs 11 yards to the 2, they run the option left again and Griffin scores so easily you'd have thought Texas had never seen an option play.

Of course, they haven't, not if they've been watching Oklahoma film, anyway.

Biggest game of the year. Second-string quarterback in the game. And the Sooners run an option for the first time all season, and at the goal, to boot.

"Sure," Stoops said, smiling. "After all, it is Oklahoma. We haven't totally abandoned our heritage."

No, they haven't. What Bud Wilkinson built, and Barry Switzer perpetuated, Bob Stoops has resurrected.

You could say all this was just dumb luck, the way Oklahoma beat Texas. And you would have to conclude that Bob Stoops is the luckiest coach in America.

You don't win 18 games in a row on luck. You don't go 7-0 against Top 10 teams because you're lucky.

Sure, Texas gave up just 206 yards to Oklahoma. UT coach Mack Brown said only a few plays really hurt the Longhorns.

But you don't have to get beat by 49 points to lose. The difference between the Rose Bowl and, say, the Holiday Bowl, is often just a few plays.

Oklahoma makes them.

Texas doesn't.

You could call it luck if you want to. Genius is often misunderstood.

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