The Sooners came into the Fiesta Bowl hoping to break their cycle of big game disappointments. Sure, they've won more than a handful of Big XII conference championships since 2000 but since the 2003 Big XII Championship upset they suffered at the hands of Kansas State, the Sooners have all but choked when they enter bowl season. It's not just bowls they're going to, they're appearing in national championship games and major BCS bowl games. The Sooners list of upsetting losses is astonishing if not historic.
In the 2003 Big XII Championship game, they lose 7-35 to an undermanned Kansas State team led by Darren Sproles running wild on the Sooners. that same season's national championship game they had a chance to beat LSU in the Sugar Bowl but couldn't pull it out when needed.
They creamed the competition for all of the 2004 season only to be demolished by USC in the Orange Bowl for the national championship, 19-55.
2005 was a rebuilding year that included losses to TCU, UCLA, Texas and Texas Tech but the Sooners went on to win their bowl game that season, beating Oregon in the Holiday Bowl (17-14).
The '06 season saw the Sooners again win the Big XII only to lose in the Fiesta to Boise St. (42-43) in what became an instant classic.
The '07 season saw Oklahoma win the Big XII but they lost again in the Fiesta to West Virginia (28-48).In 2008 it was another Big XII title for Oklahoma and another trip to the national championship game. They faced off with Florida and in what should have been a Sooner win, they could not punch in scores when inside the Gator 5 yard line and lost the game 14-24.
Here we are again in 2009 with another Fiesta disappointment to a familiar foe.
The game was expected to the triumphant return of Sam Bradford after he tore his abdominal earlier in the season. Bradford was not cleared to play so Landry Jones remained at the helm for the team.
It was a back and forth affair, especially in the first half. The Mountaineers scored first when Jarrett Brown hit Jock Sanders on a 6 yard touchdown pass with about 5 minutes to go in Q1. The Sooners followed up with a 10 yard TD pass from Landry Jones to Jameel Owens to tie the game up at 7.
The Second quarter again saw WVU strike first. Noel Devine, a Heisman Top 5 finisher, dove in from the 1 to put his team up by 7. OU followed up with a long drive that ended with Jones hitting Adron Tennell on a 11 yard TD strike. Fourteen all at the half.
Quarter number three saw more of the same when OU scored first followed by the same from West Virginia. Twenty-one all after three quarters.The swing in momentun came in the last period when Oklahoma fumbled and WVU's G. Dervil scooped it up and took it 75 yards for the score. OU answered with another 11 yard strike from Jones to Cameron Kenney to knot the game up at 28. From there Noel Devine showed why is one of the most talented runningbacks in the country. He led his team on a long drive, finishing it off with a 3 yard dive to give his team the lead. OU tried to answer but could not. WVU scored one more time, this time for the lead, on a 57 yard over-the-shoulder catch by W. Lyons that ended in a score. That put WVU up 35-28 and the Sooners couldn't answer in the 30 seconds they had left in the game.
As usual, in the postgame interviews, Coach JHeb gave it up to the Mountaineers for playing tough and smart. He vowed to keep coming back to the big games because "You've got to be in them to win them. We'll be back. Our time is coming. All teams have down times. I wouldn't call this a down time. We're playing the best teams in the country. Someone has to lose. Winning national and conference championships isn't easy. I'd bet there are a lot of coaches out there who'd trade spots with me right now. I promise ya. That's all. See you guys in the spring."