|No. 3 Sooners hope to erase memories from last Fiesta Bowl trip|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 07 December 2007 22:50|
Underdog Boise State emptied its bag of tricks to beat Oklahoma in an exhilarating 43-42 upset in January: a hook-and-ladder to force overtime, a wide receiver pass to tie the game in the extra period and the Statue of Liberty play on a 2-point conversion to win it.
For some Sooners, the game that became an instant classic still stings as they prepare to return to Arizona to face No. 11 West Virginia (10-2).
``When we went and played against Boise State, we weren't really on the top of our game and we let one slip away,'' linebacker Curtis Lofton said Friday. ``We've just got to go back and erase all that. It's a new year and it's a different team.''
Coach Bob Stoops said he considered the loss easier to take because it wasn't for the Big 12 or national championship. Boise State jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead and then squandered an 18-point advantage before rallying late.
``They made some great plays at the end and we weren't far off. It wasn't like we were sitting there out to lunch on anything,'' Stoops said.
``They just caught us and the timing for some of them was perfect. They played well enough early and we made some mistakes early that we got in a hole that was really hard to get out of. We thought we had, and they made some plays at the end. That's the way it goes.''
Many of the key players on this year's third-ranked Oklahoma squad had little or no control over that Fiesta Bowl loss. Quarterback Sam Bradford, the nation's top-rated passer, and defensive end Auston English, the Big 12 sacks leader, were both redshirting. Receiver Malcolm Kelly was injured early and missed most of the game.
While others may see it as a game for the ages, the Sooners would just as soon forget that they were ever a part of it.
``I don't know if I'll ever bring it up in conversations to brag about, but it's definitely one for the replays for a while,'' English said. ``I don't know if I'll ever get over it.''
Oklahoma (11-2) earned its second straight Fiesta Bowl berth by beating No. 1 Missouri 38-17 in the Big 12 title game, and Stoops campaigned afterward that the Sooners deserved a chance to play for the national championship.
``I thought we had a shot, beating the No. 1 team in the nation,'' Lofton said. ``I think everybody talks about how style points are a big factor in the BCS, and the way on a neutral site we beat them by 21 points and had a chance to go up by more than that, I thought we had a chance definitely to go to the national championship.''
Most of those hopes fizzled after a 34-27 loss at Texas Tech on Nov. 17, when Bradford sustained a first-quarter concussion. Fiesta Bowl officials extended an invitation to Oklahoma in its locker room after the Big 12 championship and it became official the following day when Ohio State and LSU got the nod to play in the Bowl Championship Series title game.
``I gave up on that a long time ago,'' English said. ``I kind of got over it. We had our fair share of mistakes this season, so I'm not going to sit around and argue whether or not we're supposed to go to the national championship.
``Obviously we've had our fair chances and I'm happy and excited to go play out there in Arizona.''
Even if it means revisiting some bad memories?
``I had fun,'' English said. ``Right up to the part when we lost.''