OKLAHOMA HALTS ARKANSAS, 10-3, IN THE 66TH SBC COTTON BOWL CLASSDALLAS, Texas, January 1, 2002 Ð Defending national champion Oklahoma removed all the trickery from Arkansas’ slippery two-quarterback offense Tuesday in the 66th Cotton Bowl Classic, punching out a school record-tying nine sacks en route to a 10-3 victory before an overflow crowd of 72,955.
“They threw a lot of offense at us, with the two-headed quarterback [Zac Clark and Matt Jones] that we’d heard about for a month,” Sooner Coach Bob Stoops said after Oklahoma’s first ever SBC Cotton Bowl Classic appearance. “To go out like that against a team that had won six of its last seven games É was talking about how they couldn’t wait to play us É and was talking upset Ð our players met the challenge.”
The 10th-ranked Sooners again used superlative defensive performances from Jim Thorpe and Bronco Nagurski Award winner Roy Williams and Dick Butkus Award winner Rocky Calmus Ð this time to hog-tie the Razorbacks’ high-scoring attack.
Williams, the All-America strong safety, was voted the SBC Classic’s Outstanding Defensive Player, finishing just ahead of Calmus, the All America linebacker, in the balloting. Oklahoma running back Quentin Griffin, who gained 56 yards on 19 carries and nine receptions for 32 yards, was voted the Classic’s Outstanding Offensive Player.
Stoops, now 2-1 in bowl appearances as coach in Norman, said the Sooners’ defensive performance rivaled the showing in the 13-2 national championship victory over Florida State a year ago.
“This was our second straight bowl appearance against two very good teams,” Stoops said. “To have kept both of them out of the end zone is hard to do, but again, our defensive performance was exceptional.”
Oklahoma [11-2] limited Arkansas [7-5] to only six first downs and 50 yards of total offense Ð third fewest in Cotton Bowl history. The Sooners totally stymied the Razorback quarterback tandem of Clark and Jones. Clark completed 2 of his 12 passes for 13 yards. Jones, whose running brought a new zip to the Arkansas offense, was limited to 23 yards on 15 carries, gaining 20 of those yards on one play.
“This was the best defense we’ve seen in the 15 to 20 years we’ve been coaching,” Arkansas Coach Houston Nutt said. “They really got to us out on the edges. We had hoped to avoid those third and long situations that let them pin their ears back and come after us.”
Sooners quarterback Nate Hybl completed 24 of 32 passes for 175 yards, with no interceptions. His completion total surpassed the Cotton Bowl record of 21 by Navy’s Roger Staubach against Texas in the 1964 Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma’s sack total equaled the Cotton Bowl record first set by the University of Miami against Texas in 1991.
Capitalizing on Matt McCoy’s interception of a Clark pass at the Sooners’ 37-yard line with 9:28 left in the first quarter, Oklahoma put together the lone touchdown drive. Hybl’s four-yard completion to Trent Smith on fourth-and-one at the Arkansas 16, kept the 13-play mark alive. Hybl sneaked the final yard for the touchdown with 2:54 left in the first quarter. Tim Duncan kicked the extra point, giving the Sooners the lead, 7-0.
Oklahoma received the second half kickoff and drove 65 yards in 12 plays, setting up a 32-yard Duncan field goal with 8:45 remaining in the third quarter. Arkansas got its only score on a 32-yard field goal by Brennan O’Donohoe with 9:46 to play in the game. Calmus covered Jones’ fumble at the Arkansas 35 with 1:42 to play, dashing the Hogs’ final comeback hopes.
66th SBC Cotton Bowl Classic
Dallas, Texas, January 1, 2002
Oklahoma 10, Arkansas 3
Coaches: Arkansas, Houston Nutt; Oklahoma, Bob Stoops
Outstanding Offensive Player: Quentin Griffin, halfback, Oklahoma.
Outstanding Defensive Player: Roy Williams, defensive back, Oklahoma.
Weather: Partly sunny, 36 degrees, wind 5-7 MPH at kickoff.
Attendance: 72,955 [sellout]National Television: Fox