Sooners dominate Cowboys

Going in, Oklahoma State thought it had a chance at tasting another Bedlam victory. The Cowboys have since been rudely awakened by the No. 1 team in the land. While stepping up the ladder to reach the rainbow of BCS bowl dreams, OSU found one rung to be a little loose...

NORMAN -- Surely, you have had one of those days. You know, the one where you spill coffee on yourself on the drive to work. You walk into the office and find out that a memo you missed has a major project due that day. You trip over a cord on the way to your desk chair, and when you head out at the end of the day the car won't start because of a dead battery or you have a flat tire. The Cowboys had one of those days on the football field, and because they picked Saturday in Norman to have it, they lost for the first time in three years to their rival top- ranked Oklahoma. They also lost a huge opportunity. The 52-9 collapse on Owen Field to a highly charged, very talented, and revenge and championship motivated Oklahoma squad means the Cowboys can step up, but not as high as they wanted.
 
It started out well enough, a Tatum Bell five-yard run, a four-yard pass to Rashaun Woods, and then Bell seemed to get the first down only to be spotted short by a half-yard. The Cowboys punted and the defense came out for a three-plays-and-out stop. That's when the game turned around. Following the OU punt, Fields was sacked when no one bothered to pick up Sooner defensive end Dan Cody and Fields fumbled, giving Oklahoma the ball on the Cowboy 11. Tailback Tatum Bell could have recovered the fumble, but instead of falling on it, he tried to pick it up. That was a mistake that would be repeated later in the first quarter. The O-State defense held and Trey DiCarlo hit the 28-yard field goal to make it 3-0.
 
"I saw the ball on the ground,'' said Bell. "I tried to pick it up and I should have just fell on it.
I didn't get full grasp of it. I had it, then couldn't hold it and it got loose from me. And they picked it up.''

"Four turnovers, especially early in the game, could not get off our own goal line, made the short field," said O-State head coach Les Miles of the poor start. "And they capitalized. They're an awful good football team. We knew that coming in."

Things were still okay, but another three and out for the Cowboys led to a punt and this time Oklahoma used a little run, then a little pass, more run and 61-yards later Kejuan Jones slammed in from the two-yard-line for a 10-0 lead. The next Cowboy possession featured the first Cowboy first down, but another Cody sack forced another O-State punt. This is where it got bad again, like that bad day at the office. The Cowboy defense, which really played much better than either the score or statistics indicated, came out and got the stop only to have Darrent Williams fumble the ensuing Sooner punt, and then he tried to pick the ball up rather than fall on it. Oklahoma didn't waste that second opportunity marching down for another Kejuan Jones two-yard touchdown run and a 17-0 lead.

Two fumbles, two opportunities to recover, and Miles would have been pulling his hair out, but it is cut too short.

"Tatum should have just fallen on the ball,'' said Miles. "Darrent should have just fallen on the ball. It's a big game. It's a game where they want to make plays. Those are playmakers. They'll be coached and they are coached to fall on that ball. And let's line up again."

As in sync as the Cowboys were in October, at least most of the time, they were out-of-sync on the first of November. At halftime they had three first downs and 43-yards of offense. They had three points thanks to a late first half interception by defensive end Khreem Smith that he returned to the OU 16-yard-line, but after three plays, it resulted in a Luke Phillips 31-yard field goal. Quarterback Josh Fields, sacked just eight times in the first eight games, was sacked three times Saturday by OU defensive end Dan Cody,just in the first half.
"The opp to throw the football effectively deals with protection," said Miles.  "Our quarterback was pressured most of the day.  We thought we could by calling quicker throws and some opp to get the ball out without holding it a length of time. But those things become predictable, too."
The second half started out well enough as Darrent Williams attoned for his punt receiving miscue by picking off Sooner quarterback Jason White and returning the pick 11-yards for a touchdown, but a high snap caused a sloppy hold which caused the first missed extra point of the season by Phillips. The miscues kept coming as penalties, a high punt snap, more sacks, and a tipped interception fueled the Oklahoma effort.
A microcosm of the entire game came late in the third quarter when Josh Fields zipped a pass downfield toward his favorite target Rashaun Woods. Fields threw the ball to the outside, but Woods had turned inside.
"In the second half we were pressing trying to make a play," said Fields. "Honestly, I don't remember the play, but there were some passes I was throwing just to get the ball away. I'd probably take the blame on that because I know that Rashaun was just trying to make a play. We all wanted to make a play."
The Cowboys drove the ball right to down to the Sooner goal only to be dismissed twice from the one-yard-line.
 
"It really is embarrasing to be down there and not get the ball in the endzone," said center Ben Buie. "No excuses, we've got to be able to do that against anybody."
Make no mistake, Oklahoma was the more talented team. They had a good game plan, and they executed well, but the Cowboys chipped in with plenty of contributions. Halloween was the night before, but the Sooners had saved all the tricks and all the treats for Saturday afternoon. The 52-9 scoreboard in foggy Norman provided OU head coach Bob Stoops and his team another trophy (Bedlam Bell) and another postcard photo on their way to New Orleans and a Sugar Bowl date to play for another national championship.
What really stunk for the Cowboys was how golden this opportunity would look as the day wore on. Back in August they sat down to identify all their goals with the first to win the Big 12 South Division, then go to Kansas City and win the Big 12 Championship Game. The next aim was to head to a BCS bowl game, if possible the Sugar Bowl and play for the national title. Help would be needed if they had beaten Oklahoma, but the help was there on Saturday as Virginia Tech slaughtered Miami, Georgia lost Florida, Michigan State lost to Michigan. The Cowboys would have been in a good position.
Now the Cowboys will need a major regrouping and recovery during this week to get ready for a revived Texas team and a Boone Pickens Stadium stand to salvage the opportunity to take the last step up they can make. A win against Texas would likely put the Cowboys in a New Year's Day bowl in Dallas, the Cotton Bowl. It's not what they set their minds and heart on in August, but it would represent a step up. A week of brooding over the debacle in Norman and a loss to Texas would send the Cowboys to San Antonio, maybe back to Houston, possibly to San Diego. This program now aspires to higher accomplishments, but they learned in a rather rude fashion last Saturday that the trip up the ladder has to be taken one step at a time. Texas represents a step the Cowboys might be a lot better prepared to handle this season, as opposed to an angry, talented Oklahoma team that has been ranked No. 1 all season.
 
"The only thing I can tell you is that everytime we take the field we have the opportunity to win. That's how you approach it. I didn't want our guys to do it any other way," Miles said.
"I'm certain that this will sting us,'' Miles said. "I'm not saying that we will not regret the way we played. When you play a really good football team -- a great football team -- you have to play with no reserve. You can't afford to walk safely into the stadium, you have to risk it, and we did. Today we were unsuccessful,  but I think this is a resilient group of guys. They know they're a good football team and have the potential to put it together.''
"It hurts real hard," said defensive end Greg Richmond. "We were very confident about this game, that we could come down here and get a victory. But it didn't happen for us. What we've got to do is move on, put it behind us. It's not going to determine our season."

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