Saturday, November 14, 2009

Big XII Title Game: Kansas City Classic

Kansas City, KS--In a rematch of the 2009 Big XII Championship, the #7 Sooners (9-3, 6-2) and #5 Huskers (11-1, 8-0) showed why they were the teams to make it to the final conference game fighting to be the Big XII Champion. The 2009 championship was won by Oklahoma (41-10) but that was before Coach Wildcatter took over the Husker program that offseason.The hype leading up to the game was as expected. The Huskers had dominated the Big XII North, going undefeated in conference play having only lost to LSU early in the season. The Sooners had some letdowns as they lost to #1 Florida in Gainesville (by 3), to #9 Texas in Dallas (by 3) and to then #6 Colorado (by 1 on a missed field goal as time expired). They had assumed the Big XII Championship was out of reach as Texas was winning games and had the look of a title contender. Losses by Texas to Nebraska (in Lincoln) and Kansas State (Manhattan) left OU in a tie with Texas and Texas A&M for the Big XII South title. OU would need a loss by Texas to Texas A&M, in Austin, in the last game of the conference season to get into the title game. Somehow A&M was able to beat the hated Horns (34-24), sending Oklahoma back to the Big XII title game to face their long-time rivals, Nebraska.The cold December air in Kansas City figured to be an implication of the teams cooling off, slowing the game down, running the ball, keeping the score low, defense dominating, battles for field position, ball control, etc. Not so fast! Coach JHeb and Coach Wildcatter didn't appear to change anything about their offenses. Coach JHeb noted before the game he had no plans to put the clamps on Sam Bradford (below) and Coach Wildcatter said his balanced attack of running with Castille and passing with Lee (below, second from top) would be the same as it had all season long.Sam Bradford (Sr): 4635 Passing Yards, 33 TD Passes, 3 Rushing TD's, 2008 Heisman Trophy WinnerZac Lee (Sr): 3670 Passing Yards, 31 TD Passes, 3 Rushing TD'sOklahoma won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. OU kicked off to the Huskers in hopes of getting the first stop of the game then capitalizing on that stop with a score to take the first swing at gaining momentum for the game. Nebraska quickly killed that plan as Zac Lee hit TE McNeil (above) for the first score of the game at the 5:07 mark from 19 yards out. NEB 7 - OU 0. Oklahoma followed up with a Tress Way (below) field goal (52 yards) at the 2:24 mark to make it a 7-3 game.The next score came at 0:01 left in the first quarter as Husker QB Lee ran in from 12 yards out to put his team up 14-3. The Sooner sidelines were looking concerned. Through one quarter the Sooners were completely unable to stop the Husker attack. Meanwhile, the Husker D was shutting down the Sooner attack. They hoped for better in the second quarter.Quarter number two started out with two consecutive field goals by Tress Way (53 & 57 yards) to make the score 14-9 in favor of the Huskers. Sooner HC JHeb was wondering what his team could do to stop the Husker attack. He had to hope for their offense to stall or for his defense to force a turnover. At about that time his D was able to force a Nebraska punt but was only able to turn it into a FG from Way (mentioned above). Once the Huskers got the ball back they again hit paydirt (Henry pass from Lee, below) at the 0:40 mark to put their team up 21-9.Oklahoma had a chance to get downfield with their 2 minute offense with a great passing attack (below). Bradford appeared to be on fire as he hit his receivers in stride to get the team downfield and in position to possibly score their first TD or at least a FG.All they had to do was complete one more pass or at least not turn it over and they'd have their chance. Bradford stood behind center in a shotgun formation.As he looked for areceiver to come open, Nebraska's DE J. Ankrah crushed Bradford (below). Since OU had used all of their timeouts to get downfield, the clocked ticked down to zero. Coach JHeb was furious on the sidelines.The second half started and it appeared the Sooners had made some adjustments. They appeared to completely abandon the run game and turned exclusively to the pass. If they were going to come out of this 12 point hole, they were going to have to do what they know best and that's passing the ball. Oklahoma got the ball to start the third quarter. They scored with 4:23 left in the 3rd on a Ryan Broyles (below) TD reception from 10 yards out to make the score 21-16 in favor of Nebraska.Nebraska returned to their first half ways and again scored on a nice drive capped by another Zac Lee TD run from 4 yards out (1:18 left in the 3rd quarter). The score is now Nebraska 28, Oklahoma 16.

Oklahoma quickly responded with a score of their own at the 0:31 mark when a pass down the left sideline found it's target (Jameel Owens) and he turned it into a 56 yard score. The lead shrinks from 12 to 5, and at the end of three quarters Nebraska leads 28-23.To start the fourth quarter, Nebraska did their usual and scored another TD. This time it was FB K. Thomsen pushing the ball in from 2 yards out. Oklahoma was able to quickly answer when they scored at the 3:09 mark of the fourth on another Ryan Broyles TD reception from Bradford. Nebraska leads 35-30.

From there, the Huskers burned clock and did enough to keep the ball until time expired, not allowing Oklahoma to get the ball back and givin them a chance to score. Final score: Nebraska 35 - Oklahoma 30.

The Players of the Game: Nebraska's Zac Lee (16-19 for 289 yards, 2 TD's; see below).For Oklahoma it was Sam Bradford (35-46 for 396 yards, 3 TD's; see below)Game Notes:
OU ran the ball 6 times for 47 yards not counting Bradford's two sacks. OU had 425 yards total offense while NU had 428. OU had 20 first downs while NU had 18. Nebraska ran the ball 27 times for 139 yards and 3 TD's. Both teams did well on 3rd Down Conversions. OU was 6-9 (66%). Nebraska was 3-4 (75%). Neither team went for it on 4th down. The game only had one punt (Nebraska, 43 yards). OU was in the redzone 3 times and scored on 2 of them (66%). Nebraska was in the redzone 5 times and scored on 4 of them (80%). The one time they failed to score was when they kneeled on several downs to run the clock out. Neither team committed a turnover. Time of Possession favored Nebraska (15:10 to 12:50). Quinton Castille ran the ball 14 times for 92 yards. Doesn't seem like much but his runs were timely and killed some of the Sooner spirit. Nebraska's B. Steinkuhler had two tackles for loss (see below) while J. Ankrah had one TFL and one sack.

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