Wildcats shock top-ranked Oklahoma, throwing BCS in disarray
Posted: Sunday December 7, 2003 2:57AM; Updated: Sunday December 7, 2003 3:03AM
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Oh no, Oklahoma!
The top-ranked Sooners got a taste of the misery they've handed out all season when they were stunned 35-7 by No. 13 Kansas State on Saturday night, throwing the whole national championship picture into chaos.
The loss in the Big 12 title game is certain to drop the Sooners in the polls. However, the big question is can they still hang on to finish in the top two of the BCS rankings to make the Sugar Bowl -- or whether they even deserve to go.
"I'm not going to sit here and lobby for any bowl," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "We just got whipped. They outplayed us in every part of the game."
Ell Roberson threw four touchdown passes, Darren Sproles ran for 235 yards and the Wildcats shredded Oklahoma's vaunted defense, winning their first conference title since taking the Big Six in 1934.
Despite the overwhelming defeat, experts still believe the Sooners (12-1) will wind up in New Orleans on Jan. 4 once the BCS standings are released Sunday.
Their opponent would be either Southern California or LSU, and whichever one-loss team is kept out of the title game will surely feel slighted.
"It hurts to lose," Oklahoma linebacker Teddy Lehman said. "We played well all year and when it really mattered we didn't. All we can do is regroup and try to come out and get one more win."
Kansas State will go to the Fiesta Bowl, its first BCS game ever. If not for a three-game losing streak early in the season, the Wildcats could have been playing for the national title.
"I feel like we should probably be the No. 1 team in the nation right now," Kansas State linebacker Ted Sims said.
The Sooners came in hearing talk about where they rank in history. Roberson and the Wildcats (11-3) delivered an emphatic answer -- second best in the Big 12.
The Wildcats have won seven straight since falling out of the poll following their losing streak.
This was the crowning achievement in coach Bill Snyder's career. When he took over in 1989, Kansas State was viewed as one of the worst programs in the nation. But he built it from scratch and after many heartbreaks finally came through in a big game, beating a top three team for the first time in school history.
Oklahoma looked out of synch, failing to generate a running game against Kansas State's stout front and giving little protection to Jason White.
White was under constant pressure from Thomas Houchin and endured many hard hits. The Heisman Trophy favorite finished 27-for-50 for 298 yards, two interceptions and no touchdowns.
"They put pressure on us and got to us a few times," White said. "They hit us where we are weak."
White's first pick stopped a drive in the end zone and his second was returned 27 yards by Sims for a score to make it 35-7 early in the fourth quarter. White also missed an open Lance Donley on a fourth-and-1 play late in the second quarter.
Usually reliable kicker Trey DiCarlo missed a pair of field goals -- just his second and third of the season -- and Oklahoma's top-ranked defense was picked apart by Roberson.
He threw three touchdowns in the second quarter, including a 60-yarder to Sproles and a 63-yarder to James Terry, as the Wildcats seized control of the game.
Roberson also hit Brian Casey on a 19-yard score to tie the game early in the second quarter and added a 10-yarder to Antoine Polite in the third quarter.
The Sooners, who had trailed for fewer than six minutes all season, found themselves on the wrong side of a blowout -- the worst in Stoops' five years at Oklahoma.
Mike Stoops, Oklahoma's co-defensive coordinator, was coaching his final game for the Sooners before taking over as Arizona's head coach.
Bob Stoops stressed all week that the coaching change wouldn't affect the game, but the Sooners looked uninspired.
The Wildcats had four plays go for longer than 60 yards -- the longest plays all season against Oklahoma. They had 519 yards and averaged 8.9 yards per play.
"It's basically the run and gun," Roberson said. "Let the little man run it and if they don't respect it we'll throw it."
The Sooners got off to a quick start when Kejuan Jones ran 42 yards for a touchdown on their fourth play from scrimmage. But that would be their only score.
After Kansas State botched a punt snap that gave Oklahoma the ball at the Wildcats 36, DiCarlo missed a 44-yard field goal giving the Wildcats a boost. Sproles ran 55 yards on the next play to set up Roberson's touchdown pass to Casey.
After the Sooners punted, Roberson threw deep to Terry, who made a great adjustment while the ball was in the air to beat Antonio Perkins for the catch. Terry then broke a tackle by Donte Nicholson and jogged into the end zone for a 63-yard score to make it 14-7.
White's pass was intercepted in the end zone by James McGill on the next drive and the Wildcats capitalized with Sproles' 60-yard catch and run on a screen pass.