- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
That incomplete pass to open the game would be the Aggies? best shot at scoring all day. It would also be the A&M offense?s best chance at crossing the 50-yard line. ?If that ball was caught,? Murphy says, ?you have a whole different ball game.?
Asked how it would have been different, Murphy reflects for a moment, then says, ?Well, for one thing, the score wouldn?t have been 77?0.?
It was an ugly day, especially for the A&M seniors, who would have to deal with the memory of it the rest of their lives. The Aggies had vowed to make history and shock the world, and they had accomplished both by halftime, when the score was 49?0 and the Sooners had scored touchdowns on seven of their first eight possessions, both Big 12 records. High-speed, pass-based offenses have made blowouts in college football commonplace, but the rout of A&M was so stunning that some who read about it the next day in their morning papers wondered if the score was a typo.
It was the worst loss for A&M?s 110-year-old football program, far surpassing a 48?0 defeat by Texas in 1898. It also threatened to have repercussions for a long time to come. Everyone loses, but how does a proud program like A&M?s absorb such humiliation? How does it respond when its manhood has been ground into the turf?
How does the school attract top recruits who have seen such a pummeling? What about the alumni, who expect more from the team even in a rebuilding phase?
Oklahoma put up 639 yards total offense; A&M had 54. The Aggies made only three first downs and were forced to punt 12 times. The defense played no better, obliterating any memory of its halcyon days of the 1980s and ?90s, when it was called the Wrecking Crew and A&M was dubbed Linebacker U. The Aggies made Jason White look like the best quarterback who ever lived. He set an Oklahoma record by completing his first 14 passes, four of them for touchdowns.
?I believe in being decent to people,? Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops told reporters afterward, and no one who saw the game doubted him. The score was 77?0 by the end of the third quarter, and in the fourth the Sooners? reserves ran dive after dive into the heart of the line to make sure that they didn?t score again and that the clock kept running. In the stadium certain Oklahoma fans made giddy by the spectacle began to chant for the Sooners to score 100 points. Had Stoops been less compassionate, he could have done it.
?No doubt about it,? says Carl Torbush, A&M?s defensive coordinator. ?You look at the score, and you think Coach Stoops ran it up. Well, I promise you he didn?t. You look at that score, and you also think our players quit. No, they didn?t, not one of them. It just got out of hand.?
At halftime Murphy put his headphones on and sat listening to more of The Lord of the Rings sound track. The music failed to calm him. Barely 90 minutes earlier he and his teammates had been convinced that they would teach the Sooners a thing or two about humility. Now they weren?t sure they wanted to play the second half. ?You didn?t want to go back out and play anymore,? says free safety Jaxson Appel. ?You just wanted to go home.?
When Franchione and his staff addressed the players, they were careful not to add to their burden by accusing them of not playing hard. ?It was a nightmare,? says Torbush. ?The worst thing you could do in that situation is beat up your players.? Instead, the coaches beseeched the young Aggies to not give up. Forget the score, they said. A new game begins in the second half. Go out and win it. Play for pride.