Sooners Beat Buffs for 2002 Big 12 Title
HOUSTON (AP) -- With no national championship berth on the line, Oklahoma and Colorado didn't pack the house for Saturday night's Big 12 title game.
At least the Sooners are headed for one of college football's coveted Bowl Championship Series spots, a nice consolation prize for missing out on the Fiesta Bowl.
Nate Hybl threw two touchdowns passes and Quentin Griffin ran for a championship game-record 188 yards and two touchdowns as the eighth-ranked Sooners beat the No. 12 Buffaloes 29-7 to win the Big 12 for the second time in three years.
The victory probably will send Oklahoma (11-2) to the Rose Bowl against Washington State (10-2).
"Being the Big 12 champs, we'll go wherever they want to take us," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "All the bowls are excellent, and it will be a great environment."
A disappointing announced crowd of 63,332 attended the game, although Reliant Stadium appeared far less than its 69,500 capacity.
The Sooners beat Kansas State for the Big 12 title in 2000 and went on to beat Florida State in the Orange Bowl for the national championship.
Griffin eclipsed 100 yards for the ninth straight time this season. Griffin finished the regular season No. 2 on Oklahoma's single-season rushing list with 1,740 yards; Billy Sims had 1,762 yards in 1978.
"We've been executing a lot in the running game and pass protection," said Griffin, the game's most valuable player, adding praise for his offensive line. "I can't say enough about those guys. They played really well the whole year."
Brian Calhoun, starting for injured running back Chris Brown, ran for 122 yards for the Buffaloes, who were trying to become the first back-to-back Big 12 champions after last year's 39-37 victory over Texas. But it wasn't to be.
Hybl threw touchdown passes of 3 yards to Trent Smith in the first quarter and 21 yards to Mark Clayton in the second quarter as the Sooners took a 13-0 halftime lead.
Colorado kicker Pat Brougham missed field goals of 41, 32 in the first half and 33 yards in the third quarter.
"The team was actually supportive," Brougham said. "They have faith in me, as I have in myself. I take full blame for this loss. Those misses put us in too tough positions. After two of those misses, they drove right down on our defense. I feel real bad about this game."
Jeremy Bloom gave Colorado brief momentum in the third quarter with an 80-yard punt return early in the quarter, cutting Oklahoma's lead to 13-7.
"Coming into the game, their punter (Blake Ferguson) was ranked 11th in the league so I thought I'd get a chance. He kicked it far, the other 10 guys did their job blocking downfield."
The Sooners then scored 16 straight points to ice the game. First, Griffin broke 36 yards late in the third quarter. The Sooners started the fourth period with a drive that took up 5:14, setting up a 28-yard field goal by Trey DiCarlo with 7:53 left in the game. Griffin then broke free again with 3:49 left in the game.
"To shut them out defensively - and I guess we held them under 200 yards (193) - it was another incredible performance," Stoops said.
Griffin laid the groundwork for the Sooners in the first half. He had 41 yards on six carries leading up to Hybl's 3-yard touchdown pass to Smith late in the first quarter. Smith caught a perfectly lofted pass in the back of the end zone on third down.
A 15-yard screen pass from Hybl to Griffin and a 15-yard facemask penalty helped the Sooners take a 13-0 lead with 9:38 to go in the second quarter.
This time, Hybl completed a 21-yard touchdown pass to Clayton, running ahead of cornerback Donald Strickland in the end zone. Phil Jackson blocked the extra-point attempt by Trey DiCarlo.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," Hybl said. "It's been a long five years here, and it means everything to go out as a champion."
Colorado reached Oklahoma's 23-yard line with its first drive before Brougham's 41-yarder was wide right. His 32-yarder also was wide right in the closing minutes of the second quarter.
What the Sooners' defense couldn't do was stop Calhoun, who had 115 yards at the half, including 85 on runs 37, 25 and 23 yards, each one a cutback.
Calhoun started the game because Brown missed his second straight game with a bruised sternum. Calhoun gave the Buffaloes hope on the first play of the game when he bolted 37 yards. He faced a solid wall to his left and ran back to his right to the Sooner 43 prior to Brougham's 41 yard missed field goal.
The Sooners capitalized on Colorado turnovers for a 27-11 victory in their Big 12 regular-season game on Nov. 2. The Buffaloes fell behind early and couldn't get all the way back.