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Sooner Boomers
Austin Murphy
January 08, 2001
Near-perfect execution by a crunching defense clinched an unbeaten, untied, unbelievable season for Oklahoma
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January 08, 2001

Sooner Boomers

Near-perfect execution by a crunching defense clinched an unbeaten, untied, unbelievable season for Oklahoma

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Torrance Marshall is as well-traveled as Heupel, whose tortuous journey from his native Aberdeen, S.Dak., to Norman (with two stops in Utah) has been generously documented. Marshall's route from South Florida to a captaincy in Norman was no less circuitous. Unable to make the grades he needed to qualify for a scholarship at Miami, Marshall packed his bags for Kemper Military School and College in Boonville, Mo., where he was required to "square" his food—bringing his fork straight up from his plate, then straight across into his mouth—but permitted to take the most direct route to the ballcarrier. He made 182 tackles in two seasons and in 1997 became the first junior college All-America in Kemper's history. Even after returning to Florida and putting in an extra semester at Miami-Dade Community College, he failed to meet Miami's academic requirements. He then chose Oklahoma over Kansas State. With the Sooners he has proved a perfect complement to stellar weakside linebacker Rocky Calmus.

It was a first quarter interception by Marshall, the Orange Bowl's MVP, that led to Oklahoma's first points, a 27-yard field goal by Tim Duncan. Astoundingly, those were the only points the Sooners would need to clinch their first national crown since 1985.

The game had been over an hour when a sudden downpour forced the celebrating Heupel family off the field. In a tunnel in Pro Player Stadium, Heupel spotted a close friend, Patrick McClung, a minister in Norman. Despite the deluge the two friends walked to midfield and knelt in prayer. Losing the Heisman to Weinke had stung Heupel more than he had let on. All along, however, he had said he would trade that storied doorstop for a national title any day.

Now that the day was upon him, he wept openly, his tears mingling with the rain as he thanked the Almighty for allowing him and the Sooners to fulfill their destiny.

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