SAY THIS for Oklahoma fans: They can take coaching. Five days before No. 2 Texas Tech brought its vaunted Air Raid attack to Norman to face the fifth-ranked Sooners, coach Bob Stoops matter-of-factly mentioned how much louder the crowds had been at Florida, his previous place of employment. ¶ Stoops was speaking at his weekly press conference. He intended no offense to Oklahoma partisans. Really, he didn't. If they couldn't find it within themselves to be as vocal as the Gators' faithful, who could always be counted on to crank up the decibels when the other team had the ball—well, he wasn't going to knock them for that. ¶ It was textbook passive aggressiveness, and it worked. Called out by their supreme leader, Sooners fans in the crowd of 85,646 made their presence felt from the get-go at Owen Field last Saturday night. Some, in fact, couldn't wait for the opening kickoff. There was the wheelchair-bound gentleman screaming over the railing during pregame warmups at Tech defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill.
"Hey, McNeill! You guys aren't ready!"
It was ungracious. It was inhospitable. It was undeniably accurate.
The Red Raiders were completely unprepared for the world of hurt awaiting them. How bad was Oklahoma's 65--21 mauling?
The Sooners, who finished with 625 yards of total offense, had 402 of them by halftime, at which point they led 42--7. Word is that Boomer and Sooner, the Shetland ponies that dash onto the field pulling the Sooner Schooner after Oklahoma touchdowns, needed intravenous fluids at intermission.
Only a last-minute goal line stand kept the Sooners under 70 in a stunning "ass-whuppin'"—to quote their assistant defensive coordinator, Bobby Jack Wright—that wasn't as close as the final score indicated. Tech's final TD, a 27-yard pass from Graham Harrell to wideout Detron Lewis against Oklahoma's second-team defense, came with 11 seconds left—about 10 minutes after fans had taken up chanting, "Oh-VER RAT-ed!"
A year ago the Red Raiders upset the Sooners 34--27, knocking them out of the national-title picture. The favor has been returned. Collateral damage: Harrell, who went into the game as the Heisman frontrunner, came out of it as roughly a 10-to-1 shot. The senior's lipstick-on-a-pig stat line: 33 completions in 55 attempts for 361 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception. No fewer than 130 of those yards came in the fourth quarter, and many of his completions were paltry gains, quick hitches and screens that were sniffed out and blown up by a splendidly prepared Oklahoma defense.
Leapfrogging Harrell—for a week, at any rate—was Sooners supersophomore Sam Bradford, who threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns on only 19 attempts (14 of them completions). Those numbers would have been fatter still if the Sooners hadn't been able to run the ball with such shocking ease. Tech had been yielding a respectable 107.4 rushing yards per game; Oklahoma helped itself to 299.
Two traits had transformed Tech this season from an entertaining, second-tier team to a bona fide national-title contender. The Red Raiders had run the ball effectively and played decent defense. Both ingredients went AWOL at OU. Tech could scrounge just 45 yards on the ground. Starting with their second play from scrimmage—an 18-yard dash by DeMarco Murray—the Sooners ran the ball down Tech's throat, which opened up their passing game, which resulted in touchdowns on six of their first seven possessions.
In the days leading up to Saturday's game, Oklahoma players insisted that, no, revenge was the furthest thing from their minds. They sang a slightly different tune, once they'd ... gained revenge.