The Road to the Fiesta Bowl

Athletics Communications
By Athletics Communications
University of Oklahoma
DECEMBER 16, 2007
NORMAN, Okla. -- continues its coverage leading up to the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl by taking a look back at an unpredictable season in college football. Following is a week-by-week recap of the events which led to Oklahoma and West Virginia meeting in the Valley of the Sun.
The No. 4 Sooners will take on the No. 9 Mountaineers in Glendale, Ariz., on January 2. OU is making its sixth BCS appearance in eight seasons and second straight trip to University of Phoenix Stadium for the Fiesta Bowl.
Complete coverage of the game can be found at Sooner Fiesta Bowl Central. A limited amount of tickets remain in the official OU sections of the stadium. Sooner fans can check availability online or call the OU Athletics Ticket Office toll-free at (800) 456-GoOU or locally at (405) 325-2424.
  Week 1

 Crazy Start to a Crazy Season
 Oklahoma Opens in Style, 79-10
 RecapHighlights | Photos | Sights & Sounds
 • West Virginia Prevails in Opener
 • Appalachian State Stuns No. 5 Michigan
Preseason No. 8 Oklahoma ran all over North Texas, routing the Mean Green 79-10 in its season opener. Redshirt freshman running back DeMarco Murray attracted the spotlight with a five touchdown performance in his OU debut.
No. 3 West Virginia opened its schedule with a convincing 62-24 victory over Western Michigan in Morgantown. Pat White threw for 192 yards and two TDs and ran for two more while the Mountaineer defense held the Broncos to just 32 yards rushing on 32 attempts.
Elsewhere around the country, Appalachian State issued the first warning that 2007 would be a season to remember. The defending Division I-AA champs stunned No. 5 Michigan 34-32 at the Big House in arguably the biggest upset in college football history. Since the NCAA began classifying I-A and I-AA in 1978, no I-AA team had previously ever beaten a I-A team ranked in the AP poll.
  Week 2

 Old Rivalries Renewed
 OU Rocks Miami, 51-13
 Recap | HighlightsPhotos | Sights & Sounds
 • West Virginia Downs Marshall, 48-23
 • Elsewhere Around the Country
The Sooners erased some old memories with a 51-13 drubbing of the Miami Hurricanes in Norman. Cornerback Reggie Smith returned a Miami fumble 61 yards for a touchdown early in the second quarter to give OU a 21-3 lead and the Sooners never looked back. Quarterback Sam Bradford tied a school record with five TD passes to go along with zero interceptions.
West Virginia's first trip to Huntington in 92 years did not get off to a pleasant start, as Marshall returned the opening kickoff 77 yards to set up the game's first score. The Thundering Herd held a 13-6 lead at halftime before the Mountaineers stormed back with 42 second-half points en route to a 48-23 victory.
Unranked South Florida, a program in only its 11th season of existence, upset No. 17 Auburn 26-23 in overtime to improve to 2-0 on the season.
  Week 3

 Rising in the Polls
 Oklahoma Drubs Utah State, 54-3
 Recap | HighlightsPhotos | Sights & Sounds
 • Mountaineers Topple Terps, 31-14
 • Elsewhere Around the Country
The Sooners leapfrogged West Virginia to No. 3 in the polls following its victory over Miami and kept rolling with a 54-3 drubbing of Utah State. Bradford threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns in another efficient performance and Malcolm Kelly caught his sixth and seventh TD passes of the season to lead the Sooners to another blowout.
West Virginia unleashed its strong rushing attack in a 31-14 victory over Maryland. Steve Slaton ran for 137 yards and three touchdowns and true freshman Noel Devine added 136 yards of his own as WVU poured 448 yards of total offense on the Terps.
In other news, unranked Kentucky improved to 3-0 on the season with a 40-34 upset of No. 9 Louisville, while Utah pounded No. 11 UCLA 44-6 to defeat the Bruins for the first time ever.
  Week 4

 Offense Abound
 Sooners Romp Past Tulsa, 62-21
 Recap | HighlightsPhotos | Sights & Sounds
 • West Virginia Defeats ECU, 48-7
 • Elsewhere Around the Country
OU racked up 553 yards of total offense, including 285 on the ground, on its way to a 62-21 win over Tulsa in a rare Friday night game. The Sooners scored more than 50 points for the fourth straight game, only the second time in school history Oklahoma has had such a streak.
West Virginia also scored early and often, building a 27-0 halftime lead before ultimately defeating East Carolina, 48-7. The Mountaineers dominated in all phases of the game, accumulating 599 yards of total offense to ECU's 160. White completed 18 of 20 passes for 181 yards and two scores.
Michigan, which dropped out of the polls following back-to-back home losses to start the season, regained some confidence with a 14-9 victory over No. 10 Penn State.
  Week 5

 Collision Course
 Sooners Fall at Colorado, 27-24
 Recap | HighlightsPhotos | Sights & Sounds 

 • Tough Going for West Virginia at USF
 • Four Top 10 Teams Fall in Week 5
Colorado's Kevin Eberhart kicked a career-long 45-yard field goal as time expired to knock off the No. 3 Sooners in Boulder during a weekend of upsets around college football.
A night earlier, the fifth-ranked Mountaineers fell victim to upstart South Florida, 21-13, in what was billed as the biggest game in the history of the USF program. More than 67,000 fans saw the Bulls and Mountaineers combine for 10 turnovers, but West Virginia's six proved more costly in the loss.
Two other top 10 teams went down in Week 5, as No. 4 Florida fell at the hands of Auburn, 20-17, and No. 7 Texas lost to Kansas State, 41-21, setting up a rare Red River Rivalry game with both teams coming off a loss.
  Week 6

 On the Rebound
 Sooners Rumble Past Texas, 28-21
 Recap | HighlightsPhotos | Sights & Sounds
 • Mountaineers Rebound with 55-14 Win
 • Stanford Shocks No. 2 USC
Bradford looked like a veteran in his first OU-Texas game, completing 21-of-32 passes for 244 yards, three TDs and zero picks to lead the Sooners past the Longhorns, 28-21. Oklahoma recaptured the Golden Hat for the first time in three years.
West Virginia rebounded from its first loss of the season with a 55-14 victory over Syracuse. With the game tied at seven late in the first quarter, the Mountaineers went on a 34-point run to put the Orange away. Six different Mountaineers found the end zone.
Stanford's dramatic 24-23 victory over No. 2 USC highlighted another weekend of chaos in the top 10. Unranked Illinois defeated No. 5 Wisconsin, 31-26, and No. 11 South Carolina topped No. 8 Kentucky, 38-23.
  Week 7

 Sending a Statement
 Sooners Show Up Mizzou, 41-31
 Recap | HighlightsPhotos | Sights & Sounds
 • West Virginia Idle  
 • No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Cal Both Go Down
With ESPN's College Gameday in town, the No. 6 Sooners pounced on Missouri, 41-31, in an electric environment at Memorial Stadium. The key play came when Curtis Lofton picked up a Missouri fumble and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. Chris Brown led OU's offense with three touchdowns on the night.
The Mountaineers, meanwhile, had the week off.
With everyone expecting the college football season to settle down a bit, just the opposite occurred as the top two teams in the country both went down. No. 17 Kentucky knocked off No. 1 LSU in a 43-37 triple overtime thriller, and No. 2 Cal fell at the hands of Oregon State, 31-28.
  Week 8

 A Win is a Win
 Sooners Escape Ames with 17-7 Win
 Recap | HighlightsPhotos | Sights & Sounds 
 • Mountaineers Blitz Mississippi State, 38-13
 • South Florida No. 2 No More
It wasn't pretty, but Oklahoma got the job done on the road in the second half, defeating Iowa State 17-7 in Ames. Strong safety D.J. Wolfe's interception in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter helped secure the victory for the Sooners. Chris Brown led the offense again, scoring both of OU's touchdowns.
The Mountaineers jumped out to a 28-0 first quarter lead and never looked back in defeating Mississippi State, 38-13. It was apparent from the start that luck was not on the side of the Bulldogs. West Virginia fumbled the opening kickoff and MSU recovered. The Bulldogs, however, were offsides and had to kick again. A second chance was all the Mountaineers needed. White took care of the rest with a 64-yard touchdown run on WVU's first play from scrimmage to turn the tide.
South Florida's reign as a national power lasted all of one week, as the No. 2 Bulls fell to Rutgers, 30-27. South Carolina and Kentucky's roller coaster seasons continued, as the respective No. 6 and No. 7 teams in the country both lost.
  Week 9

 Quiet Week
 Oklahoma Idle
 • West Virginia All Over Rutgers, 31-3
 • Elsewhere Around the Country
With a week off, the Sooners took advantage of the opportunity to rest up for the stretch run of the season.
Meanwhile, No. 7 West Virginia eliminated any hopes Rutgers had for a second straight upset by holding the Scarlet Knights without a touchdown in a 31-3 victory. Slaton rushed for three touchdowns to lead the Mountaineers.
As far as this season was concerned, it was a pretty mild week around college football in terms of upsets. No. 2 Boston College escaped with a win over No. 8 Virginia Tech thanks to the last second heroics of QB Matt Ryan. South Florida began its spiral out of the top 25, losing to No. 23 Connecticut. Other top 25 teams to go down included No. 11 Florida, which lost to No. 18 Georgia, and No. 14 Kentucky, which fell to unranked Mississippi State.
  Week 10

 Defense Dominates
 Sooners Blitz Texas A&M, 42-14
 Recap | HighlightsPhotos | Sights & Sounds
 • West Virginia Idle
 • Another No. 2 Goes Down
The Sooner defense held Texas A&M off the scoreboard until the fourth quarter on their way to a convincing 42-14 win. Bradford tossed five touchdown passes for the second time of the season, racking up 287 yards through the air on 21-of-30 passing.
With an upcoming Thursday night game, West Virginia had a bye.
After surviving a scare a week earlier to maintain their No. 2 ranking for a second straight week (which was more than the three previous No. 2s could claim), B.C.'s reign ended with a 27-17 loss to Florida State.
  Week 11

 R-Freshmen Phenoms
 Oklahoma Blasts Bears, 52-21
 Recap | HighlightsPhotos | Sights & Sounds 
 • Mountaineers Survive Scare
 • Top-Ranked Buckeyes Fall Victim to Illinois
DeMarco Murray and Sam Bradford combined for three touchdowns in the span of seven minutes in the first half as OU routed Baylor, 52-21. Bradford went 20-of-25 for 353 yards and three touchdowns, while Murray rushed for 95 yards and three TDs and returned three kickoffs for 139 yards and another score.
West Virginia didn't secure a victory over Louisville until the final play of the game, intercepting Brian Brohm's hail mary attempt to preserve a 38-31 victory over the Cardinal. White led the Mountaineers with 328 yards of total offense, including a 50-yard TD run with 1:36 remaining for the decisive score.
Top-ranked Ohio State became the latest victim of the upset bug, falling to Illinois, 28-21. And much like fellow once-No. 2 South Florida two weeks prior, B.C. lost for the second straight week, falling 42-35 to unranked Maryland.
  Week 12

 Upset Alert
 Texas Tech Upsets No. 3 Sooners
 Recap | Highlights | Photos | Sights & Sounds
 • WVU Holds On Against Cincinnati
 • Yet Another No. 2 Falls
Bradford suffered a concussion early in the first quarter and the Sooners were unable to find their rhythm until it was too late. Still, OU had its chances in the fourth quarter as backup quarterback Joey Halzle engineered a rally, but it wasn't enough as the Sooners' national title hopes slipped away.
No. 5 West Virginia survived a flurry of turnovers to defeat Cincinnati, 28-23. The Mountaineers built a 28-10 fourth quarter lead behind White's 295 yards of total offense and two rushing TDs. Cincinnati answered with a 12-play, 71-yard drive to close the deficit to 28-17, and the Mountaineers fumbled on the first play from scrimmage on the ensuing drive. The WVU defense rose to the occasion once again to seal the victory.
The latest No. 2 discovered its demise as Oregon fell to Arizona, 34-24, on Thursday night.
  Week 13

 Another One Bites the Dust
 Sooners Storm Past Cowboys, 49-17
 Recap | HighlightsPhotos | Sights & Sounds
 • Mountaineers Capture Big East Crown
 • Arkansas Takes Out No. 1 LSU
Sam Bradford broke the NCAA freshman record for touchdown passes in a season with four TD tosses against rival Oklahoma State. Senior running back Allen Patrick ran for a career-best 202 yards as Oklahoma clinched a berth in the Big 12 Championship game.
No. 3 West Virginia overcame a sluggish first half against No. 20 Connecticut by exploding for 42 second-half points en route to a 66-21 victory over the Huskies. With the win, the Mountaineers captured the Big East title.
For the second time this season, the top two teams in the country lost on the same weekend, as Arkansas handed No. 1 LSU a 50-48 defeat in triple overtime, and. No. 4 Missouri bettered No. 2 Kansas in the biggest game in the rivalry's history. It was only a preview of the chaos to follow.
  Week 14

 Champions Again
 OU Roars to Big 12 Championship
 Recap | HighlightsPhotos | Sights & Sounds 
 • Pitt Dashes West Virginia's Title Hopes
 • Top Two Fall in Second Straight Week
Missouri entered the Big 12 Championship game as the No. 1 team in the country for the first time in 47 years and had its sights set on a BCS title game appearance. The Sooners had other plans, however, and broke open a close game in the second half on their way to capturing their second straight Big 12 crown. Curtis Lofton turned in another clutch performance, highlighted by an interception late in the third quarter.
Even in a season full of surprises, Pitt pulled off one of the most improbable upsets of the season with a 13-9 victory over No. 2 West Virginia in Morgantown. Pitt held the Mountaineers to a season-low 104 yards on the ground to wipe its fiercest rival out of the national championship picture.
With the top two teams in the nation falling for the second straight week, the BCS was thrown into a frenzy.
In the craziest college football season ever, it is only fitting that two teams which narrowly missed out on an opportunity to play for a national title meet in the Fiesta Bowl.



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