Offense lets OU down in Nebraska
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Writer
Sunday, November 08, 2009
11/08/09 at 10:35 AM
LINCOLN, Neb. — This "Battle of the Big Reds" was billed as a defensive brawl.
It was something like that.
Two of college football's fiercest defenses met on Saturday night at Memorial Stadium — well, they met two struggling offenses, anyway. The result was few yards, fewer first downs and even fewer points.
Great defense or bad offense, Nebraska converted turnovers into points and held off the No. 20-ranked Sooners 10-3.
"It's very frustrating," said OU defensive end Jeremy Beal. "Before the season, we had high expectations."
It was the fewest points scored by an Oklahoma team in 11 seasons under head coach Bob Stoops — worst since a shutout at Texas A&M in 1998. It also was the lowest-scoring game in the series since a 7-3 Nebraska victory in 1988.
"OU, we don't come in here to put up three points," said wideout Ryan Broyles. "That's not what we do. We have 12, we win the game."
For an OU team that set an NCAA record with 99 touchdowns last season, it was a nightmare.
"It's kind of happened enough," said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. "Somebody, or something's gotta change. What you saw today was very similar to what you saw in the opener (a 14-13 loss to BYU). That's disappointing, because it's Week 9."
OU's defense was better than ever, but the offense committed crippling penalties on virtually every drive, and quarterback Landry Jones — who earlier this season set a school record with six touchdown passes in a game — tied a school mark by throwing five interceptions.
"I know y'all want to shoot at one person," Broyles said, "but he's just one player, and he's a young quarterback. We all need to play better."
The Cornhuskers improved to 6-3 overall and 3-2 in Big 12 Conference play, while the Sooners fell to 5-4 and 3-2.
A crowd of 86,115, the second-largest in the history of the stadium, roared its approval throughout the slugfest, despite the fact that their team managed just 180 yards of total offense and seven first downs.
With the Sooner offense abandoning an ineffective running game, Landry Jones had his roughest start of the season, completing just 26-of-58 passes — tying a school record for attempts — for 245 yards with no touchdowns and five interceptions.
"Didn't expect that from Landry," Wilson said.
The Sooners' hopes looked buried when a fourth-and-4 pass from Jones was intercepted by Nebraska linebacker Phillip Dillard — a Jenks graduate — with 2:31 to play.
But OU's defense forced another three-and-out and Broyles gave the Sooners more one more breath with a 35-yard punt return to the Nebraska 49 with 41 seconds left.
"I knew we needed field position," Broyles said, "but if I could, I was gonna try and score."
Instead, Broyles was tackled on the sideline and, just two plays later, Jones threw his fifth interception, an inexplicable second-down Hail Mary to the 10-yard line with 27 seconds to play. Wilson said Jones missed Broyles open underneath for what might have been an 18-yard gain to keep the drive alive.
Instead, Jones heaved a bomb into a swarm of Nebraska defenders.
"I just rushed myself and didn't get the whole signal," Jones said.
In the first quarter, the teams combined for zero points, one first down and 32 total yards on 29 snaps.
The respective defenses undoubtedly caused much of the havoc. Nebraska came into the game ranked ninth nationally in total defense, and the Sooners ranked 11th, both yielding well under 300 yards per game.
"They have a heck of a defense," Wilson said.
But foundering offenses also shouldered the blame.
"I'd like to have a couple of those throws back," Jones said. "Left a couple high. Can't have that."
OU's defense wasn't perfect. Nebraska's Roy Helu rushed for 138 yards. And special teams were costly. Tress Way, who took over the placekicker duties for an inconsistent Jimmy Stevens two weeks ago, missed three of his four field goal attempts, including two on the Sooners' first two possessions.
In all, 11 of the Sooners' 16 drives ended up in Nebraska territory, but Sooner mistakes — and Cornhusker defense — made points scarce. OU finished with 325 yards on 87 plays, but five interceptions, three missed field goals and three failed fourth-down plays were all too much to overcome.
The Sooners' only points came with 24 seconds left in the first half, when Way kicked a 28-yard field goal.
Nebraska's only points of the first half came after Prince Amukamara intercepted a Jones pass and returned it to the OU 1-yard line. From there, quarterback Zac Lee threw a 1-yard pass to Ryan Hill. Lee, formerly the starter, replaced freshman Cody Green, who was ineffective in the first quarter.
The Huskers' other points, a 28-yard field goal by Alex Henery, also came after a Jones interception.
Nebraska safety Matt O'Hanlon picked off Jones three times.
"Man, just give credit to Nebraska," Jones said. "They've got a great defense."
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OU had its lowest point total in the Bob Stoops era during a 10-3 loss to
nebraska on Saturday night. A look at the games in which OU has been
held to 10 points or less since Stoops became coach in the 1999 season:
Nov. 7, 2009 (Lincoln, Neb.): Nebraska 10, Oklahoma 3
Oct. 7, 2006 (Dallas): Texas 28, Oklahoma 10
Sept. 3, 2005 (Norman): TCU 17, Oklahoma 10
Dec. 6, 2003 (Kansas City, Mo.): Kansas State 3 , Oklahoma 7*
Jan. 1, 2002 (Dallas): Oklahoma 10, Arkansas 3#
Oct. 27, 2001 (Lincoln, Neb.): Nebraska 20, Oklahoma 10
* Big 12 championship game #Cotton Bowl game
John E. Hoover 581-8384
OU quarterback Landry Jones threw five interceptions Saturday against Nebraska. Stephen Pingry/Tulsa World
OU receiver Ryan Broyles had eight catches for 74 yards. Stephen Pingry/Tulsa World