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Oklahoma 10, Arkansas 3
Posted: Tuesday January 01, 2002 05:36 PM ET
Oklahoma
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Arkansas
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DALLAS (Ticker) -- Rocky Calmus went out with a bang.

Calmus, the Butkus Award winner and Nagurski Award finalist, had nine solo tackles -- two for losses -- and a key fumble recovery as No. 10 Oklahoma used a stellar defensive effort to post a 10-3 triumph over Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl.

Also a finalist for the Bednarik and Lombardi Awards, Calmus spearheaded a defenive attack that limited Arkansas to just 50 yards of offense. The Razorbacks gained just 37 yards on 42 carries and completed just 2-of-13 passes for 13 yards.

"First of all, our defense was absolutely dominating today," Sooner defensive lineman Dusty Dvoracek said. "And just like all season, Rocky was all over the place. He always seems to be around the ball -- its amazing."

The defending national champions allowed the Razorbacks to cross midfield just three times and have allowed just five points in their last two bowl appearances. Oklahoma defeated Florida State, 13-2, in the Orange Bowl to win the national championship game.

On Tuesday, the Sooners tied a Cotton Bowl and team record with nine sacks and the 50 yards allowed were the third fewest in the history of the bowl game.

"It's just amazing to keep someone to 13 yards passing and only two completions in a college football game today," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops added. "I don't care who you're playing. ... Defensively, we may have outperformed what we did a year ago. To play two bowl games the last two years against two very good football teams and keep them out of the end zone is hard to do."

"We had a great game plan," Calmus said. "We had a couple of new blitzes that worked really well. I'd like to say maybe Arkansas and their conference hasn't seen a defense like ours. We just executed today."

Arkansas concluded a 7-5 season with consecutive losses and came away impressed with Oklahoma's tenacious defense.

"Obviously, they're very, very talented, very fast," Razorbacks coach Houston Nutt. "They gave us a lot of problems today. They're so fast that they would get us behind the count. It's really hard to call a good game when you're behind in the count like that. You've got to give them a lot of credit. There were just no weaknesses."

The Razorbacks got a taste of things to come on the game's opening drive, managing just four yards on three plays. Arkansas' next possession was even less fruitful and ended when Zak Clark's long pass was picked off by cornerback Matt McCoy at the Sooners 37.

"They came after us," Razorbacks quarterback Matt Jones said. "Our offense couldn't do it today. ... Rocky (Calmus) impressed me a lot."

Nate Hybl capitalized on the turnover, engineering the game's best drive. He found running back Quentin Griffin for 10 yards and tight end Trent Smith for 18 yards during the possession. Hybl and Smith hooked up for four yards on a 4th-and-1 at the Arkansas 16 and two runs later, Hybl plunged over for the game's lone touchdown.

Hybl completed a Cotton Bowl-record 24-of-32 passes for 175 yards. Brigham Young's Steve Sarkisian held the previous record with 21 completions in 1991.

Oklahoma bounced back from a crushing loss to rival Oklahoma State on November 24 and finished 11-2.

A roughing the kicker penalty set up at the Oklahoma 45 early in the second quarter but a personal foul put the Razorbacks in a hole and forced a punt.

Oklahoma took the second-half kickoff and moved 65 yards in 12 plays. Hybl completed a 36-yard strike to Josh Norman that set up Tim Duncan's 32-yard field goal 6:15 into the quarter.

Both defenses actually turned it up and there was just one first down over the next nine minutes.

Arkansas' defense even made a play midway through the third, forcing a fumble that defensive lineman Carlos Hall recovered at the Razorbacks' 45. Hall had open field ahead of him but stumbled while picking up the ball and ruled down.

"If we get that thing clean, we were going to score and that's what we needed to do," Arkansas defensive coordinator John Thompson. "That's the only turnover we got all day. We could have had a couple more.

Arkansas finally pieced together some offense on its first drive of the fourth quarter. Jones had a series of carries and the possession was aided by another personal foul by the Sooners. But on 3rd-and-4 from the Oklahoma 17, Calmus tackled Jones short of the marker and the Razorbacks had to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Brennan O'Donohoe.

Duncan was short on a 49-yard field goal with 3:33 left and Arkansas took over at its 33. After a run by Jones left the Razorbacks with a 2nd-and-7 at their own 46, linebacker Teddy Lehman recorded a sack and Calmus was able to recover the fumble.

"I saw the ball pop out and the center was right next to it and I knew it was going to be a scramble," Calmus said. "I was trying to set myself up where it wouldn't squirt away. Fortunately, it bounced right into my hands and I kept it."

The Arkansas defense stiffened and Calmus came up with another big play, downing Jeff Ferguson's punt at the 1 with nine seconds later. Two incomplete passes later, Oklahoma had its second straight 11-win season.

"Arkansas played a great game," Smith said. "Their fans really gave us a hard time the last few days. I'm not trying to criticize their fans, I'm sure our fans are tough too, but in a way they really helped prepare us for this game. There was a lot of talk about whether we would take this game seriously and I can promise you that we did."

 


 
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