|No. 3 Sooners head out West to face Huskies|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 12 September 2008 08:02|
Cutaia is the coordinator of Pac-10 officials, a group whose decisions were called into question after Washington quarterback Jake Locker was flagged for an excessive celebration penalty in the waning seconds of the Huskies 28-27 loss to BYU last Saturday.
This also happens to be the week No. 3 Oklahoma makes a return visit to the West Coast for the first time since its controversial loss at Oregon two years ago.
Cutaia was the referee for that game at Oregon, which ended with a Sooners' loss and the Pac-10 apologizing to Oklahoma for officiating mistakes.
The Sooners play Saturday night at Washington.
The loss at Oregon sufficiently infuriated Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops to a point where he indicated he might cancel the Sooners' game in Seattle if the Pac-10 didn't change its rule requiring league officials to be used at its home stadiums for nonconference games.
The rule is unchanged, and Stoops backed away from his threat, saying there was a signed contract the Sooners wanted to honor. But the Sooners (2-0) haven't been successful in avoiding the talk about their last trip to the Pacific Northwest, no matter how many times they say the loss is in the past.
``We really don't even think about that. It's a completely different team,'' Sooners center Jon Cooper said. ``You can look back, there's some of us that played there but it's a completely different team and it's not like we're going to play Oregon either. It doesn't even cross my mind personally.''
To recap: A week after Oklahoma beat the Huskies at home in 2006, the Sooners went to Oregon. During that game, a Pac-10 officiating crew incorrectly awarded a late onside kick to the Ducks, who scored twice in the final 72 seconds to claim a 34-33 victory.
Replays showed that an Oregon player touched the ball before it traveled the required 10 yards, which meant Oklahoma should have been given possession. That video also showed that an Oklahoma player actually recovered the ball, although that aspect of the play was not reviewable under the instant replay rule.
Two days after what should have been an Oklahoma victory, Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen apologized for the mistake. The officiating crew that worked the game was suspended for a game, and the replay official who didn't overturn the call took an extended leave of absence.
``I really don't remember much about it, just don't want to remember. That gets you upset,'' said Oklahoma safety Lendy Holmes, who was on the field for the onside kick. ``We're going to the West Coast, we're playing against Washington. That's what I'm focused on.''
If Saturday's game comes down to an onside kick in the waning moments, then Washington will have pulled off an amazing feat.
The Huskies (0-2) are wrapping up a string of three early season games against ranked opponents. A loss on Saturday would give Washington its first 0-3 start since 2004, when the Huskies finished 1-10, the worst season in school history.
If Washington is to challenge the Sooners, the Huskies must put last weekend's disappointing loss behind them and find someone to share the offensive load with Locker, who is accounting for nearly 75 percent of Washington's offensive yards in the first two games.
Locker says looking back at the BYU loss ``is only going to distract us and take us away from what we want to do this Saturday.''
Getting help for Locker on the offensive side might be the only way Washington can stay with Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford and the Sooners' dynamic offense, which scored 52 points on a solid Cincinnati team last week. Bradford has had only 12 passes hit the ground in his 60 attempts this season - two were intercepted - throwing for seven touchdowns in two games.
If Bradford's passing wasn't hard enough to slow down, the Sooners' DeMarco Murray is averaging more than 7 yards per carry and has three rushing touchdowns.
``It's one of the more difficult (offenses) I've had to start conversations on,'' Washington coach Tyrone Willingham said. ``Where do you start at? ... It's a pretty potent group that doesn't have a lot of weaknesses.''