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Oklahoma Sooners Football: The 10 Most Hyped Games of the Stoops Era

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Before the Sooners take on the Buckeyes in a clash of blue bloods this Saturday in Norman, let’s take a trip back through some other memorable games of hype under Coach Stoops.

Oklahoma v Florida State Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

As the Ohio State Buckeyes roll into town in what hopes to be a classic game between two classic programs, the Sooners have been a part of many other marquee match-ups through the Bob Stoops era. While this game could’ve paired two of the nation’s top three teams had Week 1 not happened in Houston, it is still one of the most anticipated games in Sooner history. Here’s a look back through the other most memorable regular-season games in the last 17 years.

#10

(1) Oklahoma @ Alabama - September 6, 2003

Following the firing of former Alabama coach/life of the party Mike Price before the ’03 season, young Mike Shula’s second game after taking over would be against No. 1 Oklahoma as the ‘Tide looked to get revenge on the Sooners after losing in Norman the year before. The feared and formidable OU defense in this road contest would turn the ‘Tide over twice, including a pick of quarterback Brodie Croyle on the first play of the game. And despite an early lack of rhythm from Jason White and the high-powered offense, the Sooners, on the heels of a deep Brandon Jones touchdown, would leave hostile Tuscaloosa with a victory in hand. (W 20-13)

#9

(8) Oklahoma @ (17) Miami - October 3, 2009

In the words of Brent Musburger, “An old school classic is renewed” as redshirt freshman QB Landry Jones and the Sooners took their talents to South Beach to take on Jacory Harris and The U. After embarrassing the overmatched ‘Canes two seasons prior with Sam Bradford at the helm, the ‘09 Sooners were a young team in search of confidence and identity in a rebuilding season already hit by injury. On the other side, the ‘Canes thought they were back on the national scene. Despite an early lead and a pair of Miami turnovers, the Sooners were unable to make plays late and fell to a motivated, cocky Hurricanes squad in this primetime matchup. I’ll spare the highlights, but this happened in the stands after the game, because naturally, some ‘Canes fans thought this was the Orange Bowl circa 1984-87, and their team just won a national title against Oklahoma. (L 20-21)

#8

(17) Florida State @ (10) Oklahoma - September 11, 2010

A rematch of the 2000 National Championship Game, OU began this early home game with determination and razor-sharp offensive execution. The Sooners’ up-tempo attack, led by Jones, DeMarco Murray, Ryan Broyles and then-freshman Kenny Stills, scored early and often as they worked the scrambling ‘Noles defense to a 34-7 first-half score. On the other side, FSU quarterback Christian Ponder was stifled all afternoon by Travis Lewis and the OU defense. The Sooners cruised to a 30-point out-of-conference win on a beautiful Sepetember Saturday in Norman. (W 47-17)

#7

(19) Oklahoma @ (23) Tennessee - September 12, 2015

Tennessee was a program yet again “on the rise”, according to Tennessee, and was convinced after OU’s disappointing 2014 season that this was the landmark win to vault them back into Peyton Manning days of glory (those ‘Vols are a cute lil bunch). Little did they expect after mounting a lead and appeared to have put the game away deep into the second half, that Baker Mayfield, Heisman contender, would be born that evening in Knoxville. Rockin’ ‘n’ rollin’ all over Rocky Top in a Hollywood-esque, wild-west-style, 4th-quarter comeback for the ages, Baker, Shep and the Sooners took home another win against the SEC. (W 31-24 2OT)

#6

(23) Oklahoma @ Notre Dame - October 2, 1999

Young and hip Bobby Stoops led his air-raid-attacking Sooners to South Bend in Week 4 of the 1999 season undefeated and back in the Top 25 for the first time since 1995. This visit marked the Sooners first since 1968 to ‘Irish territory in this exciting matchup of two of college football’s household names. This game had all the billings of an afternoon classic and lived up, sans the final result for Sooners fans. After starting strong and opening up a 30-14 2nd-half lead on the shoulders of Josh Heupel’s passing and the playmaking heroics of do-everything senior Brandon Daniels, the Sooners would fail to score again and imploded late defensively to come up short in South Bend 34-30. But the program’s fresh and exciting resurgence undoubtedly showed a national audience that Oklahoma football was once again on the rise. (L 30-34)

#5

(1) Oklahoma @ (2) Nebraska - October 27, 2001

The much-anticipated rematch of the Sooners upsetting the ‘Huskers from the National Championship season before, this afternoon in Lincoln proved disastrous for OU. An electrifying dual-threat QB early in his career, newly appointed starter Jason White would suffer his first season-ending knee injury, and the Sooners offense would not recover in this game nor for much of the remaining season. Running an end-around double-reverse trick play, Nebraska would exact revenge in the cruelest fashion to end heated rival and defending-champion OU’s 20-game unbeaten streak. (L 10-20)

#4

(5) Notre Dame @ (8) Oklahoma - October 27, 2012

The unbeaten, resurgent Notre Dame program rolled into Norman on this late October night with something to prove. And after losing to Kansas State earlier in the season, the Sooners would once again fall at home this time to an Irish squad that would go on to play for the National Championship that season. The dual-threat quarterback play of Everett Golson and a vaunted defense led by savvy imaginary-ladies’ man Manti Te’o would prove to be too much for the Sooners, and this night would end in disappointment for the folks in Norman. It was also the night the Thunder traded James Harden. So things were just weird all around in central Oklahoma. (L 13-30)

#3

(2) Texas Tech @ (5) Oklahoma - November 22, 2008

The energy and build-up leading up to this crucial clash between conference rivals had the entire stadium jumping around on this November evening in Norman, as this top-five matchup had both Big XII and BCS implications on the line. The loudest fans in most likely the world that evening broke noise records and propelled the Sooners to break the Red Raiders’ hearts. Crabtree and crew would be brought back down to Earth after climbing to No. 2 in the nation after beating Texas weeks before, as the mighty Sooners showed Mike Leach’s pretenders that the Big XII still belonged to Oklahoma. (W 65-21)

#2

(1) Oklahoma @ (5) Florida State - September 17, 2011

This primetime Sooner-Seminole showdown was ripe with early-season BCS implications in the forefront of a budding rivalry. As increasingly irrelevant became the Miami Hurricanes, Florida State had reached their first preseason top-five ranking after years of disappointment and underachievement in the ACC and were as ready as ever to host the top-ranked Sooners in Tallahassee. With the game-time announcement that star linebacker Travis Lewis would be in action after a preseason foot injury and pre-game excitement at a fever pitch, this game had the feel of a heavyweight fight on a balmy night in Florida. Intense and highly competitive from start to finish, a late Kenny Stills touchdown proved to be the difference, as the Sooners would knock FSU QB E.J. Manuel out of the game and hold on to win in Tallahassee. (W 23-13)

#1

(1) Nebraska @ (2) Oklahoma - October 28, 2000

If the Sooners were truly back among college football’s elite, they’d have to prove it against then-rulers of the Big XII, the top-ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers, in the “Game of the Century II”. This was the best afternoon of Sooner football I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience live, and the numerous plays made that day will, needless to say, live forever in Oklahoma football lore -- the miracle catch by WR/DB Andre Woolfolk, the pick-six from Derrick Strait and game-long hounding of Heisman-contending ‘Husker quarterback Eric Crouch -- this game is legend. And it comfortably sits as the most-hyped and special regular-season win in the Bob Stoops era. By the end of that afternoon in Norman, the Sooners were the No. 1 team in the nation. (W 31-14)

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