In a way Gary Barnett was right. Then again, in many others, nobody could have expected just what happened in front of a record crowd of more than 54,000 Saturday night at Folsom Field.
The Oklahoma Sooners utilized 100+ yard efforts from both their starting running back and number one wide receiver on their way to a solid but closely contested 34-20 victory over Colorado in front of a national television audience Saturday night here in Boulder.
Tailback Renaldo Works earned 124 yards on 21 carries with a score, and receiver Mark Clayton caught seven balls for 170 total yards on the night, including the games winning score; a sixty yard scamper on a screen pass to seal the victory and keeping OU's undefeated season and number one ranking intact.
CU quarterback Joel Klatt led a statistically lackadaisical night for the Colorado offense, passing 23-32 for 162 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Oklahoma struck first in the contest, finding the endzone in just three plays as Heisman Trophy frontrunner Brandon Jones hooked up with receiver Jason White for a crowd-deafening 53-yard touchdown pass to open scoring just 59 seconds into CU's Homecoming game.
CU quarterback Joel Klatt opened the quarter 4-of-5, but managed only seven yards on the Buffs' opening two drives. OU managed to cap off their first possessions with touchdowns following consecutive four-and-outs by the Colorado offense. Tailback Renaldo Works punched in OU's second touchdown in as many possessions with a two-yard run on the right side lifting the Sooners to a 14-0 lead.
Colorado countered with a touchdown of their own on their ensuing possession, capped off by a perfectly thrown fade pattern from quarterback Joel Klatt to D.J. Hackett in the back of the endzone with about 2:00 remaining in the first quarter. Klatt bettered his game stats to that point on CU's first scoring drive alone, going 5-for-6 for 53 yards on the way to his team's first score.
Colorado then appeared to catch what could be a game-changing break just before the end of the first quarter when weak side safety Clyde Surrell, who's missed three games for the Buffs this season for a variety of reasons, came up with a Renaldo Works fumble on the Oklahoma 42 yard line.
Colorado was able to ride strong running from Brian Calhoun along the both sides of the CU offensive line deep into OU territory before true freshman reserve tailback Daniel Jolly fumbled the ball on the Sooner one yard line allowing Oklahoma to retain the ball and momentum in the game.
Oklahoma would benefit from a break of their own as a would-be White interception on third down by CU safety Akarika Dawn was nullified as the ball was bobbled, but appeared to have perhaps been possessed by Dawn before the nose hit the ground. Colorado lost 54 yards in field position as a result of the call, and was forced to begin their next drive from inside their own 10 yard line after a booming punt from Blake Ferguson, rather than from the OU 42, where Dawn would have intercepted the ball had it counted. Colorado would go three-and-out and give the Sooners possession and good field position from their own 40 yard-line.
The Colorado defense held strong, despite yet another controversial call on a potential fumble, this time regarding Renaldo Works' possession of a ball which may or may not have come lose before the play was blown dead. Ultimately, OU regained the ball, but were held to a 42-yard Trey DiCarlo field goal extending the lead to 17-7.
The most surprising play of the first half, though, was still to come. With just under 4:00 to go in the half, OU head coach Bob Stoops called an onside kick which the Sooners successfully executed as DiCarlo was able to recover his own attempt giving OU phenomenal field position to potentially add to their lead at halftime.
One again, Colorado was able to overcome adversity as Clyde Surrell stepped up for his second huge defensive play of the game, forcing a White fumble coming off a blind-side safety blitz, preventing OU from adding anything to their 17-7 halftime lead.
Oklahoma shifted offensive strategy coming out of halftime in an effort to counter a CU defensive attack which had stressed its performance in the third quarter as paramount in practice all week. The Sooners utilized holes in the CU secondary, allowing White to throw short over the middle to any one of his numerous receiving weapons. In doing so, the Sooners effectively caught the Buffaloes off guard, driving 70 yards on a solid 14-play drive, setting up a 20 yard field goal from DiCarlo with 8:17 remaining in the third.
Colorado experienced their first real offensive letdown of the game just two plays later, as a stop-and-go fade rout from Klatt intended for CU speedster Jeremy Bloom was overthrown and intercepted by Antonio Perkins at midfield, once again allowing the Sooners excellent field position to begin a possession. OU used the excellent position to begin their second of the teams' two drives of the quarter.
This time, however, the Colorado defense would end the attack before it could produce any points, forcing Renaldo Works' second fumble of the contest inside the CU 10. Even so, the Buff offense wasn't on the same level as their defensive squad, and Colorado was forced into a three-and-out drive and punt the ball that gave Oklahoma the start to a new drive just inside the CU 40 following a brief return by Antonio Perkins.
Despite CU's best efforts, the offense of the best team in the country would not be denied on consecutive drives. Oklahoma scored to expand a vital 20-point lead on a 16-yard fade toss from White to Mark Clayton, topping off a stifling third quarter from the OU offense with 1:32 remaining.
It appeared that Colorado would suffer the same fate on their next drive as they had their previous two, until Gary Barnett took a chance on a fake punt keeper that netted a 20-yard first down on third and short on the first play of the fourth quarter to keep a last-ditch effort for a realistic CU comeback alive. The drive became even more unusual following a pass interference call on a fake field goal attempt which nullified an OU interception in the Colorado endzone, resulting in a 22-yard touchdown run from Calhoun on the next play to bring the score back to within a pair of touchdowns; 27-14.
After gaining a first down on their third play of the next drive, CU forced a Sooner punt after a sack of White on 3rd and 20 that returned the Buffaloes momentum and the ball on their own 39 to begin a crucial drive for a comeback.
Following a set of first downs, Klatt and the Buffs came through on a potentially game-ending 4th and 8 as the sophomore found T.J. Hackett for a 15 yard gain on the left side. Colorado would cap off a 10-play, 4:01 drive with a nine yard touchdown reception over the middle from Klatt to Derek McCoy, who was able to just stretch the ball over the goal line for the score. However, the extra point attempt by Mason Crosby was blocked, dropping the lead to seven with just over five minutes remaining.
Without the luxury of a timeout, the Colorado defense was forced to stop the ever-potent OU offense lacking the ability to stop the clock. Mark Clayton made all of that mute anyway, as the team's leading receiver scampered 60 yards following a short dump off pass to stamp out any hope the Buffaloes had for an upset.
With their best shot for salvaging their season in the books, Colorado will try its best to regain business as usual form next week as the Buffs travel to Lubbock, TX to battle Texas Tech Saturday at 5:00 p.m.