Road Warrior: It's payback time

Sooners Illustrated's fan in the stands breaks down OU's win over A&M and previews Nebraska.

Well, it's always fun in Aggieland, isn't it? A game that for a time in the second quarter looked like it would be an A&M rout, but by the middle of the third quarter by all rights should have been an OU rout, instead wasn't decided until a last-second Hail Mary bounced off a pair of Aggie hands before falling to the turf and securing a 42-35 Sooner win. In reality, it shouldn't have come down to all that.

Granted, Reggie McNeal looked for about a quarter like he was the second coming of, well, somebody really good. The Sooner secondary was like a sieve again, carrying on from the second half against OSU, and McNeal was escaping and evading and bombing away. Only Jason White's moxie under center kept the Sooners within striking distance, and really should have had the Sooners tied with A&M at the half. As it was, a 28-21 deficit after all that had gone badly was a relief in and of itself.

But then the tide turned, on several levels. A&M flubbed the opening kickoff of the second half, and less than a minute in, the game was tied. Two A&M turnovers on consecutive offensive plays led to another Sooner TD, and OU was in the lead for the first time all day. Perhaps most importantly, often-burned cornerback Eric Bassey was finally pulled in favor of true freshman Marcus Walker. True, Walker burned his redshirt in the ninth game of the season, but it had to be done. In fact, it probably should have been done after the Texas game, when Antonio Perkins was injured. I look forward to seeing Walker on one corner and Perkins on the other come the Big 12 Championship Game and the Orange Bowl.

And make no mistake about it, the Sooners are now all but officially headed to Kansas City, and probably Miami, too, barring some BCS weirdness, which is all too possible. They have a two-game lead on the entire South Division, and they own all the tiebreakers. A win over hapless Nebraska next Saturday in Norman will seal the deal. It says here that the Huskers won't stay within five touchdowns of the Sooners, and maybe not even that close. Personally, I'm looking to put 70 or more on them, just for a little payback for the treatment we got in our dark years from Dr. Tom. My fond feelings and respect for Nebraska fans and the Nebraska program have not changed, and will never change. However, when we were down, they were merciless, and I will never forget that. The shoe is on the other foot now, and it's time for some payback.

But back to A&M. I've said it before and I'll say it again now – Dennis Franchoine is the king of succeeding on fake kicks when everyone in the stadium knows the fake is coming. Just like Franchione's Alabama Crimson Tide burned Bob Stoops' Sooners with obvious fakes in Norman two years ago, so his Texas A&M Aggies pulled off a pair of fakes in obvious situations yesterday to account for two of A&M's five touchdowns on the day. It wasn't that the Sooners weren't prepared, as evidenced by Stoops' near spiking of his headset into the Kyle Field turf after the fourth-quarter fake field goal that tied the game, but that they just didn't execute.

I have previously mocked the Aggies for building that monstrosity of an end zone seating section, but this time, I actually had to sit there. I have to say, they're not bad seats. It's a climb to get up there, but once you're there, it's like you're right on top of the field, and you can see everything. It certainly beats the section I was in the previous five times I traveled to see the Sooners in College Station, which was in the lower level, 10 or 15 yards past the end of the end zone. You have to stand at about a 60-degree angle just to see what's going on down there. No, give me the nosebleed in the end zone in College Station from now on.

As usual, the Aggies were gracious hosts. A couple of Aggie ladies struck up a conversation with me as I walked back to the bus for the return trip to Houston. They admitted to a bit of a soft spot for OU, on a kind of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" kind of basis. In fact, there was a whole family I saw before the game that was in that situation. They were all wearing matching t-shirts. On the front, they said "A House Divided" and had the names of two sisters, apparently, one who attends OU and one who attends A&M, along with the years they will graduate. On the back, the t-shirts were the same, except they said "A House United," and under the girls' names there was an upside-down Horn head and "Beat the Hell Outta Texas." Heh.

On the bus back from the game, I was tuned into the OSU-Texas game, and we were all kind of rooting for the Aggy, since an OSU win over Texas would officially seal the South for the Sooners. When it was 35-7 in the second quarter, it looked like OSU would have their own version of 63-14 in Austin. However, as everyone knows, the Aggy completely collapsed and lost by three touchdowns. It's just as well. Now we get to clinch the South by thrashing Nebraska in Norman, and Texas got a big win and kept their BCS hopes alive. That's key. We can't have Texas losing conference games to anyone but us, because if they start losing to other people, they might eventually fire Mack Brown, and we can't have that.

So, the Bugeaters are headed to Norman, and the South can be clinched. Along the way, if we're lucky, we can get a little payback for Eric Moore and all those other guys who suffered the ignominy of getting 73 hung on them by the Huskers in Norman in 1996 and 69 hung on them in Lincoln in 1997. The big win over the Huskers in 2000 didn't come close to making up for those poundings. No, the hammer must be dropped upon the Children of the Corn, again and again. I can't wait to see it. See you in Norman.

The Road Warrior is your typical OU fan in the stands, with one notable exception. He's been in the stands for every Sooner football game, home and away, for 163 consecutive games, dating back to October 12, 1991. His views appear in each issue of Sooners Illustrated.

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