It shouldn't be all that shameful to lose to the number one team in the country on the road, especially not when that team is 8-0 and has already beaten what was, at the time, the eleventh-ranked team by 52 goddamn points. Even when this team is your rival, you're prepared for the strong possibility of a loss. #1 Oklahoma 52, #14 Oklahoma State 9 is unpleasant and a little disappointing if you're a Cowboys fan. It shouldn't be Erase This Game worthy, though.
But, man, it totally, totally is, and this man is the reason why:
Confidence is a common trait across college football coaches, but we tend to like people like Les Miles, Steve Spurrier, Paul Chryst, and P.J. Fleck because they have a confidence that is cocky without being delusional. Les Miles recognizes that your team has better players and should win; he just firmly believes he will find a trick or wrinkle that tips the scales in his favor.
It's the same thing that made Thomas Magnum so awesome. He wasn't actually an amazing private investigator. He just believed he could figure it out as he went along. Unfortunately, this was the unaired episode where Magnum gets stupid drunk and drives the Ferrari into a grocery store. Higgins is so pissed.
Entering the 2003 edition of Bedlam, OSU scored an average of 46 points over its last seven games, never being held below 38. They were also sitting on a two game winning streak against the Sooners; this was a chance to become the first Cowboys team to get three in a row. The key position players from the 2002 team were all back: Josh Fields at quarterback, Tatum Bell at halfback, and Rashaun Woods at receiver.
Here is Oklahoma State's drive chart from the first half.
On third down, the Cowboys were 0 for 6 at this juncture, and on those attempts they'd gained negative 16 yards. Not one of the third down plays they ran in the first half gained ANY yardage. Would you like to see a compilation of every disastrous thing OSU did when it had the ball before halftime? Of course you would. You and I are sick people like that.
Dammit, Les. You jumped out of this plane, waving a gun in one hand and a flare in the other, thrilled at the prospect of victory. You knew this enemy, had made yourself intimate with their weaknesses. Death was coming for them, you just knew it. "LET ER RIP," you screamed, deploying your parachute.
Oklahoma promptly shot that shit to absolute ribbons. The Sooners led 24-9 at the half, and that would not do. No, no, no, after throwing the patented Les Miles brand monkey wrench into the Sooners’ 2001 championship run, and not after the 38-28 victory in 2002, and not after confident talk of a three peat. And not, cosmically and karmically at least, after Les Miles snarled "LET ‘ER RIP" and went off to do whatever manic palm-clapping he believed would guide the Cowboys to victory.
Bob Stoops didn’t have much to do during the game with one of the most humiliating elements of the game: the Sooners D-line forcibly strapping the Cowboys’ offensive line into sleds and pushing them backwards into Tatum Bell and Josh Fields for much of the afternoon. Watch any second of highlight and find Dan Cody or Dusty Dvoracek running headlong toward a ballcarrier, often towing one or two OSU linemen holding on for dear life. The problem is not a blocking scheme. The problem is the worst problem imaginable: blocking, or the inability to do so at all.
But, um…calling an end-around pass from Mark Bradley to Mark Clayton when you’re up 31-9 with three minutes left in the third quarter? Well, now, step back and consider what a dangerous offense this Oklahoma State team had, and how any team can come back and score three TDs to make it a ballgame with the right series of breaks. That’s just exploiting tendencies you saw on film with a lot of competitive ballgame ahead of you. We’re nodding. We’re nodding so hard at this right now, because the people came to see a game, not a procedure, right?
And with eight minutes or so, up 38-9, maybe you keep ‘em honest with a play-action pass or two. It’s not the most gentlemanly thing, but this is football, and you have to give your opponent an honest effort. Nothing unclean about a hungry bear taking free food, especially when the Cowboys’ secondary just left it out by the campfire like that.
After a final INT by the choking Oklahoma State offense, the Sooners got into the I-formation and with five minutes and change left, finally did the—
--wait that's not a run play--
--dammit you monster--
SCREAMING LIKE WE'RE WATCHING A SEX TAPE AND JUST REALIZED A FAMILY MEMBER IS IN IT. Oklahoma State got the ball back after this. The question you're asking is, "Did Bob Stoops keep blitzing, up by 42 points at home with a minute left on the clock?"
He did, and they sacked Josh Fields for the fourth and final time that night. Don't ever, ever, ever get on the wrong side of an avalanche with Bob Stoops on the high side of the snow. Because he'll dance on that shit all the way down the mountain, and throw off the search dogs by tossing beef jerky in the snow.