- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 7, 2001

DALLAS Stoops, he did it again.
If Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops had any doubters left in the football world, they vanished like the Texas offense yesterday at the Cotton Bowl. Thanks to an awesome display of Stoops' defensive genius and the talents of his third-ranked Sooners, Oklahoma shut down No. 5 Texas 14-3 to record the season's first landmark victory in the race for the Rose Bowl.
"Defensively, that was just a tremendous game to watch," said Stoops, wearing a grin as broad as the brim of his visor. "To come up with five sacks, four turnovers and one touchdown while keeping them out of the end zone that was amazing to watch."
A Red River Shootout it was not.
In fact, if you had told anyone that Oklahoma (5-0) would score just one offensive touchdown and win, they would have howled at you. After all, the Sooners gave up 37 points and 446 yards in total offense to Kansas State in a narrow victory last week.
By any standard, the Texas offense is far more dangerous than Kansas State's. The Longhorns (4-1) cruised into the game with weapons ablaze. Junior quarterback Chris Simms finally looked to be growing into his mammoth expectations. Daunting receivers Roy Williams and B.J. Johnson had caught 40 balls for 500 yards between them in the Longhorns' first four games. And coach Mack Brown even seemed to have found a power runner in 235-pound sophomore Ivan Williams, who was coming off consecutive 100-yard-plus performances against Houston and Texas Tech.
But that entire arsenal was rendered useless by Stoops and his defensive braintrust of brother Mike Stoops and Brent Venables.
"Our game plan coming in was to put a ton of pressure on Simms up front, jump the snap and make him throw the ball very quickly," said sophomore defensive end Jimmy Wilkerson, who sacked Simms twice and harassed him countless other times. "And our second goal was to take away the middle of the field with our secondary. Those guys were just unbelievable today."
The Sooners executed that scheme perfectly. Defensive backs Roy Williams, Derrick Strait and Andre Woolfolk routinely gave the talented Texas receivers a cushion at the line, begging Simms and Co. to throw short, quick passes. But the Oklahoma defensive backs also took extreme inside positions against their Texas counterparts, virtually eliminating the slants and crossing routes that can turn a blitz into a disaster.
Stoops and his staff were gambling that Texas wouldn't have the patience to plunk its way down the field on 5-yard outs or the athleticism to turn those 5-yard outs against one-on-one coverage into home runs. And they were right.
Simms (23 of 42 for 198 yards) almost never had time to throw. And after watching Oklahoma defensive backs make sure-handed stops on his quick throws, Simms couldn't resist the deep ball when he actually had a little time. All told, Simms threw six passes that covered more than 25 yards in the air. Three were just slightly underthrown and intercepted, and three were batted down. All were drive-killers.
Incredibly, the Texas defense played so well that with 2:06 remaining, Simms and his mates got the ball back at their own 3-yard line trailing just 7-3.
Just before they took possession, Johnson came over to Simms on the Texas bench, they touched fists and Johnson said, "C'mon baby, just 97 yards to immortality."
It was a great line, but unfortunately for the Longhorns, it was not meant to be.
On their first play from the 3, Oklahoma's Williams leapt completely over the Texas center on a blitz and hit Simms just as he was releasing the ball. His knuckler floated straight up over the line of scrimmage, and the 75,587 fans held their breath tracking its wobbly descent. Fittingly, the ball came down right into the hands of Oklahoma linebacker Teddy Lehman at the 1. Lehman took one step into the end zone, and the Sooners were one step closer to Pasadena.
"[Simms] asked me where I came from after the game, and I told him I just came flying through the middle," Williams said. "I never even saw Teddy score, man. But the sound sure was sweet. This was a huge win and feel good because those guys have to go back home to Austin, and we get to stay here and drink beer."
Brown and Simms might need a couple of stiff drinks after this one as well. After being embarrassed to the point of tears in last season's 63-14 debacle, Brown knows his team had its chances for redemption yesterday.
"We're in a heck of a lot better shape than we were at this time last year," he said. "You go back and look at the stats, and it's two great defenses going at it. They got 200 yards in total offense, and we got 225. We had three trips inside their red zone, and they didn't let us in the end zone. That was the difference. They forced four turnovers, and we didn't get any. Other than that, there wasn't much difference."
But as Stoops knows after shutting out a similarly talent-studded Florida State offense in last year's Orange Bowl(13-2), "that" can be the difference between a national title and a near-miss.

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