Instant Analysis: Miami-Oklahoma

Staff Columnist
Posted Sep 8, 2007

When Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer stared each other down nearly twenty years ago on New Year's night in South Florida, the Oklahoma Sooners only knew how to score on the ground. On Saturday afternoon in Norman, the Miami Hurricanes learned that times have changed in college football.

Whenever the going got tough for Bob Stoops' ballclub, quarterback Sam Bradford was able to drop back and fling the pigskin to an assortment of shifty receivers. The Sooners' vertical pass plays lowered the boom on Randy Shannon's defense, busting open a 21-13 game and leading Oklahoma to a comfortable vicrory.

The Sooners played fast and loose with the football, coughing up turnovers that kept Miami in the game for two and a half quarters. But when OU's backs and receivers settled down and displayed sound ball security, the results took care of themselves for an offense that showed ample firepower through the air. OU's assault on Miami's secondary was the missing ingredient the Sooners could have used in the 1988 Orange Bowl, the last time in which Johnson and Switzer coached in a national title game. Today, the Sooners showed why they've found a new identity as a college football power, while the Canes are still struggling to recapture their old swagger and dominance.

For all of the Sooners' offensive fireworks, it has to be said that OU might not have had the chance to blow the game open if its defense had not been able to smother Miami whenever the Canes threatened to score. An air-mailed punt snap gave Miami possession at the Sooner 8 in the first half, but three plays were authoritatively stoned, forcing the Canes to settle for a field goal. Other Sooner mistakes gave Miami even more drive starts in Oklahoma territory, but quarterback Kyle Wright and his UM teammates could not punch the ball into the end zone. The only touchdown for the visitors came after a pass interference call that, while reasonable, could justifiably have been left uncalled by the official. Without that flag, the Sooners would have registered a goal-line stand and sucked the drama out of the proceedings far earlier in the game. But as it turned out, the drama left Owen Field soon enough, as the Sooners stopped committing turnovers and played to their capabilities.

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