OU has chilly but fond memories of its previous Cotton Bowl appearance
BY ERIC BAILEY World Sports Writer
Thursday, January 03, 2013
1/03/13 at 5:39 AM
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DALLAS - The weather was cold and miserable on New Year's Day 2002 in Dallas.
It was a rough wake-up call for Oklahoma's football team, which stayed at the Hilton Anatole Hotel and was serenaded by "Woo Pig Sooies" by New Year's Eve revelers rooting for Arkansas.
The Cotton Bowl's kickoff was an early one (10 a.m.) with a stiff breeze and temperatures in the mid-30s.
OU walked into a stadium that had its grass painted green. Quarterback Nate Hybl said his white OU jersey was light green at the game's end.
The 66th Cotton Bowl was a blue-collar game, and the Sooners put on a workmanlike performance in a 10-3 victory over the Razorbacks. It is Oklahoma's only appearance in the Cotton Bowl until Friday's matchup against Texas A&M at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.
"It was cold," OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "It will be a lot different this time around than that game ... Roy Williams made a couple of great plays in that game.
"I know we played pretty good defense the whole way through. It was just a tough, tough day out there just fighting the elements."
The 2002 contest was a bittersweet win for Oklahoma, which was coming off a stunning home loss to rival Oklahoma State. That defeat derailed a Big 12 Conference championship game bid and an opportunity to win back-to-back national championships.
"That was a disappointing consolation prize for a lot of people," said Hybl, who now lives in the Atlanta area. "But it's still great to be associated with a big win over a quality SEC opponent and have our names in the Cotton Bowl history book."
The Sooners, who ended 11-2, were dominant defensively on that morning. OU sacked Arkansas quarterbacks nine times and held the Hogs to just 50 total yards. The Razorbacks only had six first downs and completed two passes for 13 yards.
Williams earned the defensive MVP honor. The Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe award winner had six tackles, including three tackles-for-loss for minus-17 yards. Teammate Rocky Calmus joined Williams on the Cotton Bowl's all-decade team after having an 11-tackle outing.
"The thing I remember most about that game was we had so many seniors and others playing their last game," said Matt McCoy, a former defensive back who lives in Tulsa. "A lot of us really felt for those seniors that got beat on Senior Day by OSU, and we wanted to play well."
McCoy's first-quarter interception set up Hybl's 1-yard touchdown run. OU wouldn't score again until Tim Duncan's 32-yard field goal in the third quarter. Arkansas got a late score when Brennan O'Donohoe hit a 32-yard kick.
OU struggled offensively and managed just 231 total yards under new coordinator Chuck Long, who was calling plays after Mark Mangino took the Kansas job.
"That was the first time we lined up in the I formation since I'd been there," Hybl said. "We were struggling to find out our identity."
Quentin Griffin rushed for 56 yards and caught nine passes for 32 yards to earn the offensive MVP award.
Hybl hopes the current Sooners can go out on a good note against the Aggies.
"The rest of the year seems to go a lot better if you can walk off that field with a win, and I hope for that," Hybl said. "It's fun to look back at a bowl game with fond memories."
COTTON BOWL: OU VS. TEXAS A&M
7 p.m. Friday
Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Radio: KMOD fm97.5, KTBZ am1430
Original Print Headline: Chilly memories
Eric Bailey 918-581-8391
Oklahoma's Nate Hybl escapes a tackle from Arkansas' Corey Harris during OU's 10-3 win in the 2002 Cotton Bowl in Dallas. JOHN CLANTON / Tulsa World file