DALLAS (AP) -- Arkansas coaches had a month to find some weaknesses
in the Oklahoma defense. They couldn't do it. With major award winners
Roy Williams and Rocky Calmus leading the way, the No. 10 Sooners tied a
school record with nine sacks and held the Razorbacks to just 50 yards
in a 10-3 victory Tuesday in the SBC Cotton Bowl.
Oklahoma (11-2) blew a chance of going to the Rose Bowl by losing to
Oklahoma State in its final regular-season game. The Sooners bounced
back with a vengeance, allowing Arkansas (7-5) only two completions for
13 yards. "Just amazing," OU coach Bob Stoops said. "I don't care who
you're playing, everyone would agree that's hard to do."
Offense was the main reason the Sooners weren't able to defend their
national title, and it left a lot to be desired against Arkansas (7-5).
New offensive coordinator Chuck Long stuck to a conservative plan and
produced only a 1-yard touchdown run by Nate Hybl in the first quarter
and a 32-yard field goal by Tim Duncan to open the second half.
That 10-0 lead seemed insurmountable, though, considering how the
Sooners were defending their turf. Arkansas didn't get into Oklahoma
territory until a short punt put it there late in the third quarter. The
Razorbacks drove past midfield once, on a series that ended with a
32-yard field goal with 9:46 left. They made only one first down on the
final three possessions. The Razorbacks made six first downs all game,
two by penalty.
"They're very, very talented, very fast, and they caused
lots of problems," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "It's so easy to
get behind in the count, second-and-9, third-and-10."
The OU defense zoomed into the backfield so fast that Zak Clark and Matt
Jones seldom had time to find receivers. Clark was 2-for-12 with an
interception and Jones was 0-for-1 and fumbled to end the second-to-last
drive. The running game wasn't working either. Brandon Holmes led the
Razorbacks with 27 yards while Jones and Fred Talley each gained 23.
Oklahoma's sacks, which cost Arkansas 55 yards, were its most in a bowl
and matched the most in any game. Jimmy Wilkerson and Dusty Dvoracek
joined Williams with two. Williams had only two all season, while
Dvoracek had none. Williams, winner of the Bronko Nagurski Award for the
nation's top defensive player and the Thorpe Award for the top defensive
back, also forced a 9-yard loss on Arkansas' first drive after its lone
points. "He disrupts everything," Clark said. "It seems like he's all
over the field."
Calmus, a runner-up for the Nagurski and winner of the Butkus Award for
top linebacker, made nine solo tackles, two assists and recovered Jones'
late fumble (video). "We would have liked going to the Rose Bowl, but to end my
career like this, I wouldn't have had it any other way," Calmus said.
A perfectly placed punt by Jeff Ferguson forced the Razorbacks' final
possession to start at the 1 with six seconds left. Two incompletions
later, the Sooner Schooner rode onto the field to start celebrating the
11th 11-win season in school history. "The whole game was like their
last punt," Nutt said. "Surely it's going to roll into the end zone. It
didn't. It stopped at the 6-inch line."
An interception by Matt McCoy led to Oklahoma's first score, a 1-yard
touchdown run by Hybl. During that drive, he completed third-down passes
of 10 and 18 yards and a 4-yarder on fourth-and-1. The only other solid
series came at the start of the third quarter, when Hybl's 36-yard pass
to Josh Norman led to a field goal. OU missed a chance for a touchdown
when Hybl overthrew wide-open Trent Smith in the end zone on third down.
Hybl went 24-for-32, setting a Cotton Bowl record for completions, but
with mostly short passes they went for only 175 yards. Quentin Griffin
ran 19 times for 58 yards.
OU- Hybel 1 run (Duncan kick)
OU- FG 32 Duncan
UA- FG 32 O’Donohoe
UA- Clark 2-12-13
OU- Hybl 24-32-175
UA- Holmes 8-27, Jones 15-23
OU- Griffin 19-56-0
UA- Wilson 1-7, Pierce 1-6
OU- Griffin 9-32, 7-74, 5-39, 1-23