We’re only 13 days away from the start of the 2017 season, and I can think of no better way to celebrate the occasion than by giving a shoutout to the 2000 Oklahoma Sooners and their 13-0 record.
In 1999, first-year head coach Bob Stoops led the Oklahoma Sooners to a bowl game for the first time since the 1994 season. There was plenty of reason for optimism in 2000, and Oklahoma fans were pumped about making appearances in the preseason polls for a change. The excitement was palpable, but I don’t think even the most loyal Oklahoma fans envisioned what was about to come next.
Bob Stoops led his Sooners to a 13-0 record and an BCS Championship in 2000, and the Sooners had more than their share of incredible moments along the way. Let’s take a look at the most memorable moments form that season, shall we?
The Texas Massacre
Oklahoma entered the Red River Shootout with a 4-0 record, but the Sooners really hadn’t faced a quality opponent up until that point. Because of that fact, many were skeptical as to whether or not No. 10 OU could hang with the No. 11 Texas Longhorns. Oklahoma didn’t just hang with UT that day — they hung 63 points on them.
Bob Stoops and Oklahoma experienced a run against Texas that we will unfortunately never see again (though one can wish, right?). The five-year streak fittingly began with a 63-14 blowout in which the Sooners allowed only 154 yards of total offense. Quentin Griffin led the way with six rushing touchdowns — a school record that still stands to this day. My favorite moment from this one has to be Rocky Calmus’ pick-six with his left arm in a cast.
Bob’s first big road win
On Oct. 14 of 2000, Bob Stoops would finally face his old mentor in Manhatton for an opportunity to claim his first big win on the road. On top of all that, Oklahoma was finally starting to gain some much-deserved national attention, having cracked the top 10 in both polls after its big win over Texas the previous week. Wagner Field was rocking that day, but OU was still able to jump out to a 38-14 by the middle of the third quarter. However, K-State was a team loaded with playmakers such as Aaron Lockett, Quincy Morgan and Terrance Newman, and they would not go away quietly. The Wildcats scored 17 unanswered points to make it a one-score game with about 10 minutes remaining, but the Sooners had the resolve to eventually suppress the late charge.
OU fans storm the field after beating No. 1 Nebraska
After two straight wins over top-10 teams, Oklahoma hosted the Nebraska Cornhuskers for one of the most heavily-hyped games in school history. The 11 a.m. kickoff didn’t deter Norman from being at its rowdiest, and the atmosphere was like nothing I had ever seen before or since. The night before the game, my dad said, “Jack, you’ve never been to a wild football game before”. I kind of shrugged it off, but I now know that he was trying to prepare me for what I was about to experience — stuff that a child probably shouldn’t be allowed to see and hear in person.
In spite of the raucous crowd, the Huskers jumped out to an early 14-0 lead. That lead, however, would diminish in the blink of an eye, as OU would score 24 unanswered points in the second quarter. Derrick Strait’s pick-six to begin the second half would serve as the icing on the cake, as Oklahoma would go on to win by a score of 31-14. Afterwords, Oklahoma fans (myself included) stormed the field en masse, something that hasn’t happened in Norman since.
Torrance Marshall stuns the Aggies
Texas A&M was out for revenge after the 51-6 shellacking from the previous season, and the Aggies were primed to ruin No. 1 Oklahoma’s perfect season. For a while, it looked like it would happen, as A&M would build a 24-10 advantage by the middle of the third quarter. After OU clawed back to make it 24-21, A&M wrecking ball Ja’Mar Toombs rumbled his way into the endzone, which is why a door at my parents’ house still doesn’t shut properly to this day. Luckily, OU clawed back again with Quentin Griffin TD run and a two-point conversion. What followed was one of the greatest plays in OU history.
Derrick Strait saves the season
The Cowboys limped into Bedlam with a record of 3-7, and Bob Simmons was on his way out in Stillwater. However, rivalry games have a tendency to defy expectations, and that’s just what happened that day. After OU had jumped out to a 12-0 lead, OSU freshman Tatum Bell raced to the endzone to make it a ballgame once again. With 3:20 left in the game, the Cowboys went for it on fourth down to for a chance to take the lead. Derrick Strait would be having none of that, as he knocked the ball out of Marcellus Rivers’ hands to turn the Cowboys over on downs.
The rematch with K-State
Oklahoma was able to escape Manhattan with big “W” earlier in the season, but they needed a bit of late-game magic to get it done. Needless to say, the Wildcats were out for blood on that cold (and I mean COLD) December night at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. With a Big 12 Championship on the line, both teams were exceptionally physical from start to finish, and it made for a great game that is often overshadowed in OU lore by other great victories from that season.
OU would come out on top once again, this time by a score of 27-24. Trent Smith was the hero of the night, hauling in nine catches for 96 yards and a touchdown.
The icing on the cake
Despite carrying a No. 1 ranking and an unblemished record, Oklahoma entered the Orange Bowl as a double-digit underdog to No. 2 Florida State. The Seminoles were led by Heisman Trophy winner, but a certain Oklahoma linebacker didn’t think Chris Weinke deserved the award to begin with.
Marshall’s calling-out of Weinke set the tone for the Oklahoma defense, who held the best offense in college football to 301 total yards — 248 yards under its season average up to that point — and zero points.
Leading 6-0 late in the game, Rocky Calmus knocked the ball out of Weinke’s arms and into Roy Williams’ grasp to give OU the ball in the red zone. Two plays later, Quentin Griffin took it 10 yards into the end zone, and OU was sitting pretty. Florida State later scored a pair of points when the ball was snapped over punter Jeff Ferguson’s head, but it was all for nothing as OU would go on to win 13-2 and claim its seventh championship.