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The Goal - See 'em all!
Sooners revise Golden Hurricane to a tropical depression, 62-21;
#4 Oklahoma becomes our 116th team toward The Goal!
Tulsa, OK - Fourth-ranked Oklahoma (4-0) put away the pesky Golden Hurricane of Tulsa (2-1) in the third quarter as the defense adjusted to the deceptive, razzle-dazzle, no-huddle, offensive schemes of Tulsa's high-flying, diverse offense. Meantime, the OU offense ran roughshod over Tulsa's injury-riddled, poor tackling defense. The killer play occurred though on a kick-off return in the third period when DeMarco Murray of the Sooners raced 81 yards past the Hurricane kicking team to put the game out of reach, 42-21. Head Coach Todd Graham emphasized his team's need to improve on the kicking game in the week leading up to this contest, but it looks like some more work on special teams will be needed as the Hurricane preps for Conference-USA play. The big, quick, athletic Sooners impressed Collegefootballfan.com as it became our 116th team to reach The Goal! Despite the Hurricane loss, we can't thank Joe Pistoia, former TU WR of the late '60's, and his son Tyler, current freshman WR of the Hurricane, enough for inviting us to see this game. We hope to see Tulsa play again so we can see Tyler in future action with the team.
Tulsa's CB Roy Roberts picked off an OU pass on his first defensive series after the ball was tipped into the air to start TU on its first drive from its own 37. However, the play proved costly for the Hurricane as the Junior injured a hamstring and never returned to the field on play. QB Paul Smith (22 of 32, 350 yards) got the blue-clad home crowd excited with a 15-yard scoring strike to WR Jesse Meyer (114 yards, 1 TD) in the back left corner of the end zone. Jarod Tracy's PAT stirred the Cane fans into a frenzy with their 7-0 lead. The TU defense forced the OU defense to punt from the five and the Blue and Gold of Tulsa drove once again as the crowd reverberated "Tulsa" and "Hurricane" back and forth across Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium during an unusual Friday night college game in the area. However, on fourth and short, the Sooners stopped the drive and took possession back on their own 28. At the Tulsa 29, the Cane defense stacked up the middle and RB Allen Patrick (19 rushes, 145 yards) took advantage running around right end for OU's first TD. Garret Hartley converted for the 7-7 tie. Every time TU seemed to snap the ball, Smith would start or roll one way, and would eventually take the play in the opposite direction. It made each play exciting. OU started its next drive at midfield. WR Juaquin Iglesias ( 8 catches, 142 yards, 2 TDs) ran a down-out-and-up as the TU defender fell and QB Sam Bradford connected with him for a 46-yard TD pass. With :52 remaining in Q1, WR Trae Johnson fell and tipped Paul Smith's pass attempt into the air where LB Ryan Reynolds intercepted for the Sooners at Tulsa's 30. On second and nine, Allen's' two spin moves to the fifteen prompted Tyler's mom, Janet, to comment that those great moves are the reason she encourages Tyler to take dance lessons!
The drive continuing into the second period culminated with RB DeMarco Murray's 4-yard TD run through the lefts side of TU's defense for a 21-7 Sooner lead. Smith and company responded on the next drive to regain striking distance when he hooked up with WR Brannon Marian for a 48-yard TD pass to close the score, 21-14. An unsportsmanlike call was assessed against the Hurricane for excessive celebrating, and OU got good field position at the 48 in return. Bradford (16 of 22, 244 yards, 3 TDs) fired a 21-yard scoring strike to TE Germaine Gresham who got hit hard at the goal line, but he held on to the ball to extend the margin once again, 28-14. The Sooner defense seemed to have the razzle-dazzle offense of the Hurricane figured out as they stayed home avoiding Smith's initial misdirections. In the meantime, the offense was taking advantage of a porous Hurricane defense and poor tackling. Allen ran 42 yards to the TU 30 before scoring the final TD of the half on a one-yard run. OU took a commanding lead to the locker room, but Tulsa still seemed to be a viable threat to move the ball as they demonstrated once again driving from their 21 to set up for a missed 35-yard FG attempt before the half ended. Would Head Coach Todd Graham, renowned for guiding tough defenses in the past, come up with solutions to hold the Sooners offense averaging 61.3 points per game in the second half?
Before the game, I got to experience some of the local culture at Ed's Hurricane Lounge in 11th Street right across the street from Chapman Stadium. Beer was $2/bottle, ESPN graced two TV screens, and the ceiling was adorned with more styles of women's brassieres evidently donated by paying customers than a Victoria Secret's store. The smoke cloud was heavy in there which you don't find any more of in the East. Picking up some beer before meeting up with Joe and Joyce Pistoia and some of Joe's Tulsa acquaintances for a little tailgating, I learned that the state of Oklahoma has some strange and different laws regarding alcohol. One cannot buy cold beer in a liquor store unless it's "3.2 beer"! I hadn't even heard the term used since 1975 down in Maryland! Ice can't be bought at the store either, and despite ads all over the store for Rolling Rock beer, they can't sell it now because it's an Anheiser-Busch® product now. Can't say that I blame A-B for pulling stock from state store shelves in Oklahoma where you can't even buy cold beer. Joyce, Pistoia, Tyler's step-mom, bought wine, but she found out that she couldn't even buy a cork-screw at the liquor store when she and Joe stopped at another! Talk about culture shock for visitors from both coasts! I showed up to tailgate with my warm beer. Some guys sold bags of ice from the back of a golf cart on an afternoon when the temperatures burned at around 90°F. Did I mention that you can't get ice in a liquor store either? Next time, I'll have to try to check in a full cooler at the airport before I leave Jersey, or take a shot at getting better service and more products at a local convenience store. Joe introduced me to John Dobbs who played ball with Joe at TU and who was hosting the pre-game get-together. John's father was Glen Dobbs, star TU tailback in the 40's who returned to become one of Tulsa's most successful head coaches. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1980. He was the main reason Joe went from Junior College to play for Dobbs' wide-open style passing attack at Tulsa which produced all-time leading receiver Howard Twilley who went on to play pro ball with the Miami Dolphins. However, Coach Dobbs was there for only one more year before his successor took over and de-emphasized the passing attack, much to Joe's chagrin. After Joe, Joyce, and I stopped for a burger at the Tulsa Alumni Association tent, Joe left us to take part in a Tulsa tradition where former players go into the locker room to seek out the player wearing the same number that he donned for the Hurricane, to look each other in the eye, to shake hands, and to wish him luck before the game. Joe met up with his #25, starting RB Tarrion Adams, who finished with 43 yards this day. Later, Joe admitted he was on a Tulsa team in 1968 that trailed Houston at the half in the Astrodome, 21-6. Because the entire Cane team was plagued by a bad flu bug, the coach offered to forfeit at the half because his team was so sick! The NCAA said that here would be severe consequences if TU didn't come back out, so they did and the Hurricane eventually lost the game 100-6! Today's Hurricane trailed 35-14 at the half against a #4 Oklahoma team averaging 61.3 points per game. One hundred points in a game no less 79 in a half, is hard to imagine!
Smith and Tulsa came out firing as they drove 81 yards on the first drive of the half with Smith scrambling for six points from the three for a TD to indicate that Tulsa was ready to challenge the Sooners to make this a game in the second half, now trailing, 35-21. Eleven seconds later, Demarco Murray took the wind out of the Hurricane with an 81-yard kickoff return for a quick six! Now up 42-21, CB Reggie Smith thwarted Tulsa's next drive with an INT to take back over on his own team's nine. Hartley misfired on an eventual FG attempt, but OU had done lasting damage consuming time before the game entered the final period. Smith's next pass on third and seven was intercepted as a result of another tip off his intended receiver, but it was one of several instances when the QB seemed to have a lot of running room in front of him and may have surrendered the better of two options.
Two possessions later at the start of the last period, OU scored again when Bradford fired to Iglesias who caught it at the 10-yard line and took it in for a 40-yard score as he caromed off three TU defenders into the end zone. The onslaught continued as the Tulsa offense was stymied and Oklahoma started its next drive at the TU 29 following Reggie Smith's 26-yard punt return. Murray scored easily on a 2-yard run around left end, but the PAT went for naught, 55-21. With the game out of reach, David Johnson stepped in at QB for Tulsa and the offense punted from the sixteen. With 5:20 left, Moissis Madu capped a 47-yard drive and the game's final score with a 5-yard TD run to make the final, 62-21. Tyler's Mom, Janet, a USC fan from Long Beach, CA said she now understood what it felt like to be a UCLA Bruin fan after a USC game! Janet, how soon we forget why the Boys of Troy did not make it to last year's BCS Championship game! However, a USC-Oklahoma match-up seems like a possible BCS contest for a national championship this year!
Tulsa starts C-USA play next week when 1-2 UA-Birmingham comes to town. Joe Pistoia likes his alma mater's chances for the balance of the season. OU is definitely the best TU will square off against this year. As for the Sooners, a visit to 2-2 Colorado in Boulder precedes the annual Red River Shoot-out against Texas in Big D. That game looks like the toughest for the Sooners and should determine the winner of the Big 12 South. As for Collegefootballfan.com, we were taking advantage of big games in Oklahoma only 70 miles apart on a Friday night and on a Saturday afternoon. Next stop: Stillwater. Oklahoma State (#117) versus Texas Tech.
Extra points: Met with Tyler after the game. Talk about swollen glands! He was laid out before the game with some kind of virus as his Dad and Mom both checked in to see him. His parents were concerned that he may not be able to make it out on to the field with the team, but we spotted him during warm-ups as Joe, Joyce, and Janet all made it in from California (Janet via a business trip from Pittsburgh). They were all there for the first time to see him suit up after a season as a red-shirt. He didn't disappoint them despite not feeling well.
Janet told me that Tyler had a great game his senior season at Long Beach Wilson (CA) HS when he faced off against a couple of D-1 DBs playing for perennial power-house and arch-rival Long Beach Poly. It gave him confidence that he could take a shot to play D1 ball himself.
The new Grace Athletic Complex at the north end of Skelly Stadium was built before this season and is a state-of-the-art athletic complex. Joe is amazed at the facilities and raves about Tyler's new accommodations. When Joe attended Tulsa, it was much different back then. He used to sleep on straw in the stalls of a barn - no, not really! But the athletic facilities were much more Spartan then to be sure. There's been a lot of development around the Tulsa area since Joe's days there. What a move for a guy originally from Brooklyn, NY. Click here for our Joe Pistoia Trivia Question.
Oklahoma actually increased its scoring average for the season improving from its 61.3 scoring average by scoring 62 points. The Sooners now lead the all-time series 6-3. OU defeated Tulsa for the third time in three tries since 1987. TU won three contests from 1933 to 1942. OU won the first three meetings from 1914 to 1931.
Tulsa's leading tackler, LB Chris Chamberlain, and starting CB Roy Roberts both left the game for good following injuries. Todd Graham's defense has now had two tough weeks in a row surrendering 109 points. There seems to be some more work needed to get things in line defensively. His special teams gave up too many yards, especially on kick-off returns, a part of the game he's already trying to fix.
Oklahoma DE John Williams suffered a season-ending injury when he tore his Achilles heel half-way through the game.
The 93 points combined between the two teams tied the record for the third highest total we'd ever seen.
From our vantage point in section DD among many Hurricane players' family members, H.A. Chapman Stadium seemed dominated by red shirts of Sooner Nation. Post-game reports declared a great Tulsa turnout. Tulsa, a private institution, is one of the smallest bowl division schools in the NCAA with an enrollment of 4,125 full-time students comparable to Wake Forest whom we'll see play Navy on October 20. That's about the same student population of the three service academies as well. When the Hurricane hosts Oklahoma or the OSU Cowboys, the home team competes for the tickets with large local contingents for both schools since alum are indigenous to the Tulsa area.
Is that song that the Sooner band plays, "Oklahoma!", an original or is taken from the Broadway show? I have to look that one up. I always remember the OU band always playing "Boomer Sooner!" which I happen to like on TV, but I just never noticed what I refer to as that Broadway song. I guess Tulsa won't allow the Sooner Schooner on its turf.