Hey, a two-year delay is better than no championship at all. Right, Sooners?
No. 5 Washington State Cougars (13-2) VS. No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners (14-2)
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Sun Devil Stadium - Tempe, Ariz.
Saturday, Jan. 4, 2003 - 6 PM MST
Wind: ENE 14 MPH
Final Score: Oklahoma 41, Washington State 24
Player of the Game
Oklahoma RB Quentin Griffin
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) - Oklahoma could not win a national championship in 2000 as a No. 1 seed. A No. 7 seed proved more to their liking.
The Sooners (15-2) upended the favored Washington State Cougars (13-3) 41-24 Saturday night in the Fiesta Bowl to claim the Circuit City National Championship Trophy, their first title since 1985. Coach Bob Stoops is now 7-1 in playoff games, an impressive total for a young coach in only his fourth season at such a prestigious school.
Quentin Griffin was again a star for the Sooners, as he rushed 28 times for 248 yards and 3 TDs and was honored as the AFCA Player of the Game. QB Nate Hybl threw 14-28 passes for just 190 yards and an interception, relying on Griffin to do most of the heavy lifting.
Washington State QB Jason Gesser was 21-43 for 311 yards, 3 TDs and 1 INT in a losing effort. His favorite receiver, Jerome Riley, caught five passes for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Griffin and Riley traded TDs in the 1st quarter for an early 7-7 tie, and Kejuan Jones scored from two yards out with 44 seconds left in the period to give the Sooners an early 14-0 lead.
Washington State stormed ahead, though, after Gesser connected with Scott Lunde from 49 yards out and Drew Dunning kicked a 40-yard FG to take a 17-14 lead. It proved to be short-lived, as Oklahoma scored 17 points in the last six minutes of the half, with TD runs from Hybl and Griffin and a 36-yard Trey DiCarlo FG, to take a 31-17 halftime lead.
Griffin sealed the deal with 33 seconds left in the 3rd quarter when he broke loose for a 61-yard TD run. Although Lunde would answer with another TD catch midway through the 4th quarter to cut the deficit to 24-38, Oklahoma's defense was playing too well for the Cougars to mount a serious comeback attempt.
The Big 12 has now placed a team in all five FBS championship games, winning three; coaches from the Hayden Fry coaching tree at Iowa are responsible for all three wins. The conference now has a staggering 26 playoff wins, 15 more than the next contender, for a winning percentage of .703, which is better than any other conference.
Meanwhile, the Pac-10 has fallen back to 6-10, which is the worst percentage among major conferences, but it is still a drastic improvement for the previously woeful conference.
All helmet images are courtesy of The Helmet Project. Check it out - it's pretty cool.
All bowl logos are courtesy of sportslogos.net.
The 2003 FBS Playoff field will be unveiled Sunday, Feb. 15 at noon.
- SUNDAY: 2003 field announced
- MONDAY: First half of the 1st round games played (higher seed hosts)
- TUESDAY: Second half of the 1st round games played (higher seed hosts)
- WEDNESDAY: 2nd round games played (bowl sites)
- THURSDAY: Final Four (bowl sites)
- FRIDAY: National Championship
- SATURDAY: Stats and analysis