Oklahoma Sooners Football: 10 Biggest Meltdowns of Bob Stoops Era

Tom GuthrieContributor IIIDecember 20, 2011

Oklahoma Sooners Football: 10 Biggest Meltdowns of Bob Stoops Era

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    For the Oklahoma Sooners, this season has without a doubt been disappointing. A national championship seemed realistic at the beginning of the campaign, and the Sooners showed they could handle the pressure up until they played Texas Tech late one stormy night, a game that will perturb Sooner fans for the forseeable future. 

    At the very least, the Sooners still have the opportunity to end the season with a bowl win. Losing is still a relatively foreign feeling for Crimson and Cream followers, so it's interesting to consider the rare occurrences in which OU simply "blew it."

    Here are the 10 most substantial meltdowns in the Bob Stoops era. 

10. 2006: Oregon 34 OU 33

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    The Sooners would have won this game if not for mind-boggling officiating ineptitude late in the fourth quarter, but OU still should have won this game.

    A 22-yard Garrett Hartley field goal put the Sooners up 33-20 with just over three minutes to play. After an eight-play, 65-yard touchdown drive and their subsequent onside kick “recovery,” Dennis Dixon marched the Ducks 53 yards to the end zone once again, and OU was unable to pull out the victory when Hartley’s last-second field-goal attempt was blocked.

    Granted, they would have won the game had the referees shown any degree of competence in officiating the onside kick, but the Sooners simply couldn’t stop the Oregon offense, which racked up 506 yards and 21 fourth-quarter points. 

9. 2011: Baylor 45 OU 38

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    This being labeled a “meltdown” cannot overshadow the performance of Robert Griffin III against the Sooners. He was simply phenomenal in leading his team to its first-ever victory over OU, and his play in this game likely won him the Heisman.

    But for a team of Oklahoma’s caliber, losing this game the way the Sooners did is ridiculous. RG3 shredded the once-competent Sooner D for 551 yards total yards, with 334 of his 479 passing yards coming in the final 33 minutes of the game.

    Allowing touchdown passes of 69 yards, 87 yards and 34 yards (culminating an 80-yard, 50-second drive into the wind) is inexcusable for an OU defense. Granted, the 87-yard touchdown was more a matter of luck, but the Sooner pass D was torched throughout the night and even got lucky when a wide open Bear receiver dropped a sure touchdown pass. The result of the game reflects the fact that they simply couldn’t stop RG3 that night in Waco. 

8. 1999: Notre Dame 34 OU 30

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    A quick rundown of the box score would lead one to believe that Notre Dame dominated the Sooners in this game, as they enjoyed huge advantages in yards gained and time of possession but, amazingly, the Sooners led 30-14 early in the third quarter after Josh Heupel and Jabari Holloway hooked up for a 15-yard touchdown.

    The Fighting Irish took control after that, scoring 20 unanswered points and taking the lead with an 11-play, 98-yard touchdown drive.

    The stunning setback was first-year Sooner coach Bob Stoops’ first loss of the 1999 season, an impressive debut for the man who would return the Crimson and Cream to the pinnacle of the college football world in Miami the very next season.

7. 2008 Fiesta Bowl: West Virginia 48 OU 28

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    OU and West Virginia racked up almost 1,000 yards combined in this high-scoring contest, but the Sooners were not even close to beating the Mountaineers in another disappointing and head-scratching defensive breakdown and BCS letdown.

    West Virginia, angry after blowing a chance at a national championship by falling to Pittsburgh in the regular-season finale, didn’t leave anything on the Glendale turf against the Sooners, putting on a 525-yard offensive fireworks show that the Oklahoma defense seemed to find too enjoyable to halt.

    The turning point was a 57-yard touchdown scamper by WVU fullback Owen Schmitt, who streaked down the field so effortlessly that it seemed half the OU D was missing. It’s still puzzling that the Sooners could let a fullback do that.

    Sam Bradford kept it somewhat interesting by connecting with Quentin Chaney for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to make it 34-21, but the Mountaineers poured it on after that, scoring on a 79-yard pass to Tito Gonzales and a 65-yard rush by speedster Noel Devine to put the dagger in Oklahoma.

6. 2010: Texas A&M 33 OU 19

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    This time, it was red-zone woes that plagued Oklahoma. On no fewer than four occasions, the Sooners drove inside the Aggie red zone yet failed to come away with points. This included OU being stopped on fourth and goal three times, twice from the one-yard line and once from the two.

    Things were shaky from the very beginning at the electric Kyle Field, as the first offensive play for the Sooners resulted in two points for Texas A&M after a bad snap went out the back of the end zone.

    Besides doing all they could to stop themselves and failing to score until the third quarter, the Sooners also allowed several big plays, including a 100-yard kickoff return by Coryell Judie and a 64-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill to Ryan Swope that sealed it with 7:50 left to play.

5. 2011: OSU 44 OU 10

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    This embarrassing loss would have had a silver lining if it had powered the Cowboys past Alabama and into the national championship, but their domination of the Sooners couldn’t prevent an SEC rematch in New Orleans for the national championship, and instead OU’s loss was just an ugly humiliation.

    Landry Jones and Co. simply could never get going against the inspired Cowboys, who stormed to a 24-0 lead. Amazingly, the only bright spots for Oklahoma were a 48-yard Michael Hunnicutt field goal and a meaningless 28-yard touchdown run by Blake Bell late in the fourth quarter.

    Five crucial turnovers and a failure to achieve sustained offensive success doomed the Sooners and prevented them from ending a relatively disappointing 2011 season on a definite high note by capturing a second consecutive Big 12 Championship and Fiesta Bowl berth.

4. 2003 Big 12 Championship: Kansas State 35 OU 7

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    After cruising to a 12-0 regular season and dominating opponents to the extent that some called them the best team of all time, the Sooners fell flat on their face in Kansas City against the Wildcats. The fact that OU retained their position at No. 1 in the BCS and played for the national championship, in addition to showing the failure of the system, demonstrates how powerful they were prior to meeting K-State.

    The Wildcats executed beautifully on both sides of the ball, intercepting eventual Heisman-winner Jason White twice and relying on the blazingly fast Darren Sproles offensively. Sproles stole the show against the No. 1 Sooners, rushing for 235 yards (for a 10.7 average) and 88 receiving yards, including a 60-yard touchdown.

    OU, despite totaling almost 400 yards of offense and opening the game with a four-play, 65-yard touchdown, failed to take advantage of several scoring opportunities, with six punts and a missed field goal further demonstrating their struggles. A crucial mistake was White’s interception when OU was at the KSU 5-yard line and had a chance to tie the game at 14. The Wildcats took advantage, taking a 21-7 lead and taking care of business thereafter.

3. 2011: Texas Tech 41 OU 38

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    The wound is still fresh from OU’s first loss in over six years on Owen Field, and nobody expected Tommy Tuberville’s Red Raiders to earn a spot in the record books and end Oklahoma’s impressive streak of 39 consecutive wins in Norman.

    Following two quick scores, one by each team in just over two minutes, Texas Tech exploded for 17 unanswered points and headed into halftime with a 24-7 lead.

    Although the Sooners fought back to within seven points with an impressive third quarter and a touchdown to open the fourth, OU couldn’t stop Seth Doege and the TTU offense when it had to, and their 41-38 loss was truly shocking.

    Again, Oklahoma’s defense was anemic, allowing 572 total yards and looking helpless at times in what would become the beginning of the end for a team that had dreamt of New Orleans and an eighth title at the beginning of the 2011 season.

2. 2007: Colorado 27 OU 24

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    It’s still hard to believe the Sooners found a way to lose this game. After four impressive wins in which they outscored their opponents 246-47, the No. 3 Sooners were flying high as they headed to Boulder to face the 2-2 Buffaloes.

    As late as the third quarter, OU seemed to be in control, as they went up 24-7 after an Allen Patrick rushing touchdown. It was a series of unfortunate events from that point forward, however, as Sam Bradford threw two interceptions, the Sooners punted twice and Reggie Smith fumbled when attempting to fair catch a punt at his own 16-yard line, setting up the crucial game-tying touchdown by the Buffs. Despite all their mistakes up to that point, the Sooners likely would still have escaped with a win if Smith could've simply fielded the punt successfully.

    Instead, it came down to the bitter end, as CU kicker Kevin Eberhardt nailed a 45-yard field goal, the clock hit zero and Folsom Field erupted in pandemonium.

    The win was Colorado’s first win in 15 games against ranked opponents, and the agonizing fashion in which they attained it will leave dedicated Sooner fans shaking their heads in disgust for a long time.  

1. 2005 Orange Bowl: USC 55 OU 19

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    It’s stunning to think that the worst nightmare in the Bob Stoops’ era began with a 92-yard touchdown drive by the Sooners.

    After that, however, the Sooner Schooner fell apart completely.

    It started with Mark Bradley inexplicably and recklessly fielding a punt at his own 4-yard line, which resulted in a USC fumble recovery and quick score by LenDale White. It would only get worse from there.

    Five OU turnovers, five Matt Leinart touchdown passes, 525 yards of Trojan offense and 55 points allowed had the Sooners sauntering off the Orange Bowl turf in what remains the largest Oklahoma defeat of Bob Stoops’ tenure.