No. 7 Cougars Struggle Against No. 8 Sooners At The Rose Bowl
Jan. 1, 2003
By OWEN CANFIELD
AP Sports Writer
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - Oklahoma made its first trip to the Rose Bowl one toremember. Mike Price's last game as Washington State's coach was one to forget.
The eighth-ranked Sooners dominated on defense and broke the game open withtwo late first-half touchdowns on their way to a 34-14 victory Wednesday.
Price was hired by Alabama in mid-December but chose to stay with theseventh-ranked Cougars for the bowl game. The Sooners may have made him wish hehad left a lot sooner - and may have made Crimson Tide fans a little uneasy.
Cougars quarterback Jason Gesser was 17-of-34 for 240 and two interceptions,and he was sacked six times. He was another star shut down by a defense thatthrottled Seneca Wallace of Iowa State, Kliff Kingsbury of Texas Tech and ChrisSimms of Texas during the regular season.
Oklahoma (12-2) held the Cougars (10-3) to 243 total yards, their lowest total ofthe season.
Nate Hybl was 19-of-29 passing for 240 yards and two touchdowns and waschosen the game's MVP. Quentin Griffin had 144 yards and a touchdown on 30carries, his 10th straight 100-yard game.
The Sooners outgained Washington State by a 2-to-1 margin in the first halfbut had just a 3-0 lead before scoring twice in the final 1:51.
The first touchdown came on a 12-yard pass from Hybl to Antwone Savage. Hyblalso had completions of 30 and 19 yards in the 65-yard drive.
The Cougars were forced to punt on their next possession and Antonio Perkinsreturned the kick 51 yards for a touchdown that made it 17-0. Perkins was due -he had two other big returns wiped out by penalties in the first quarter.
After being shut out in the first half for the first time this season, theCougars put together a nice drive to open the third quarter. They moved fromtheir 8 to the Oklahoma 41 before Gesser was intercepted on a tipped ball.Oklahoma turned that into a field goal.
Washington State moved to the Oklahoma 34 early in the fourth quarter butturned it over on downs, failing to convert a fourth-and-1 play. The Soonersthen drove 66 yards in 11 plays, with Hybl hitting Curtis Fagan on a 9-yardscoring pass for a 27-0 lead with 8:02 to play.
The Cougars, who came in averaging just under 35 points, finally scored on a37-yard pass from Gesser to Jerome Riley with 6:08 remaining, avoiding theirfirst shutout since 1984.
After Oklahoma's final touchdown, Sammy Moore scored on an 89-yard kickoffreturn for the Cougars.
The Sooners were playing in their 36th bowl game but their first Rose Bowl.They got invited after the Orange Bowl picked Iowa and Southern California forits game. That left the Rose Bowl without a Pac-10-Big 10 matchup for the firsttime since 1947, not counting last year when this game was the site of the BCSnational championship game between Miami and Nebraska.
Price, hired two weeks ago by Alabama, will get to see the Sooners againshortly. His second game as the Crimson Tide's coach will be against Oklahoma.
The crowd of 86,848 on a sunny, 70-degree day was the smallest at this gamesince 1944, when 68,000 watched USC beat Washington 29-0.
The game was sponsored by PlayStation 2.