Kansas State Earns Big 12 Championship With 35-7 Win
Ell Roberson threw four touchdown passes, Darren Sproles ran for 235 yards and the 13th-ranked Wildcats shredded No. 1 Oklahoma's vaunted defense in a 35-7 victory Saturday night that gave them their first conference title in 69 years.
Despite the overwhelming defeat in the Big 12 championship game, experts still believe the Sooners (12-1) will remain in the top two in the BCS standings Sunday and earn a berth in the Sugar Bowl for the national title.
Their opponent will be either Southern California or LSU, and whichever one-loss team is kept out of the title game will surely feel slighted. Kansas State will go to the Fiesta Bowl, its first BCS game ever.
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With the Sugar Bowl wrapped up before the game, the Sooners came in hearing talk about where they rank in history.
Roberson and the Wildcats (11-3) delivered an emphatic answer -- second best in the Big 12. The win was the biggest in Kansas State's history, giving the school its first title since winning the Big Six in 1934.
The Wildcats have won seven straight since a three-game skid early in the season knocked them out of the poll. This was the crowning achievement in coach Bill Snyder's career at the school.
When he took over in 1989, Kansas State was viewed as one of the worst programs in the nation. But he built it from scratch and after many heartbreaks finally came through in a big game, beating a top three team for the first time in school history.
Oklahoma looked out of synch, failing to generate a running game against Kansas State's stout front and giving little protection to Jason White.
White was under constant pressure from Thomas Houchin and endured many hard hits. The Heisman Trophy favorite finished 27-for-50 for 298 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns.
White's first pick stopped a drive in the end zone and his second was returned 27 yards by Ted Sims for a score to make it 35-7 early in the fourth quarter. White also missed an open Lance Donley on a fourth-and-1 play late in the second quarter.
Roberson looked more like the Heisman Trophy candidate, delivering the big plays when the Wildcats needed them most.
Usually reliable kicker Trey DiCarlo missed a pair of field goals -- just his second and third of the season -- and Oklahoma's top-ranked defense was picked apart by Roberson.
He threw three touchdowns in the second quarter, including a 60-yarder to Sproles and a 63-yarder to James Terry, as the Wildcats seized control of the game.
Roberson also hit Brian Casey on a 19-yard score to tie the game early in the second quarter and added a 10-yarder to Antoine Polite in the third quarter.
The Sooners, who had trailed for fewer than six minutes all season, found themselves on the wrong side of a blowout -- the worst in Bob Stoops' five years at Oklahoma.
Mike Stoops, Oklahoma's co-defensive coordinator, was coaching his final game for the Sooners before taking over as Arizona's head coach.
Bob Stoops stressed all week that the coaching change wouldn't affect the game, but the Sooners looked uninspired.
The Wildcats had four plays go for longer than 60 yards -- the longest plays all season against Oklahoma.
The Sooners got off to a quick start when Kejuan Jones ran 42 yards for a touchdown on their fourth play from scrimmage. But that would be their only score.
After Kansas State botched a punt snap that gave Oklahoma the ball at the Wildcats 36, DiCarlo missed a 44-yard field goal giving the Wildcats a boost. Sproles ran 55 yards on the next play to set up Roberson's touchdown pass to Casey.
After the Sooners punted, Roberson threw deep to Terry, who made a great adjustment while the ball was in the air to beat Antonio Perkins for the catch. Terry then broke a tackle by Donte Nicholson and jogged into the end zone for a 63-yard score to make it 14-7.
White's pass was intercepted in the end zone by James McGill on the next drive and the Wildcats capitalized with Sproles' 60-yard catch and run on a screen pass.