Believe it or not, the 2005 Orange Bowl title bout between Oklahoma and USC was a game at one point. In fact, the Sooners put together a 12-play 92-yard touchdown drive on their first possession to go up 7-0.
If not for a crucial lapse by Mark Bradley as the first quarter wound down, the game could have progressed very differently.
With the score 7-7 and USC forced to punt from the Oklahoma 47-yard line, Tom Malone initialized what would be a fateful play.
After hitting the turf just inside the 15-yard line, the ball rolled toward the goal line ominously. The Sooners would have a long way to go for a score, but at least they would have the ball.
Mark Bradley, however, saw an opportunity. He approached the ball ominously. Hoping to make a play yet demonstrating disastrously clouded judgment, he picked the ball up amid a pack of USC defenders.
It was like watching a horrible accident that you know will happen but are powerless to stop. Bradley fumbled; USC recovered. On the very next play, LenDale White bulled into the end zone to put the Men of Troy up 14-7. Oklahoma was effectively toast from that point on and went on to lose 55-19.
It's difficult to say what would have happened if Bradley didn't field the punt, but his gaffe catalyzed a waterfall of misfortune and folly that plagued the Sooners in South Beach. It's likely that the game would have been closer if he had made the right decision. Who knows, maybe Adrian Peterson breaks loose on the would-be Sooner drive, putting OU up 14-7 and swinging the momentum to the Sooners?
Unfortunately, we'll never know.