Oklahoma University Sooners fixed gazes with West Virginia University Mountaineers in the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (game broadcast on Fox), which took place at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, AZ.
West Virginia was first to light up the scoreboard with a field goal just past the halfway point of the first quarter (their first field goal attempt was no good). They closed out the quarter with a field goal too. WVU 6. Oklahoma 0. The second quarter brought points for Oklahoma in the form of a field goal and a fifty-seven yard touchdown by Mountaineers running back Owen Schmitt (incidentally, the longest TD run in WVU bowl history). The Sooners collected another three points towards the bottom of the second quarter. WVU 13. Oklahoma 6. Closer to the bottom of the fourth quarter, WVU wide receiver Darius Reynaud caught a twenty-one yard pass and twirled into the end zone for a touchdown. Going into halftime, Mountaineers 20 and Sooners 6.
Whatever the Sooners heard in the locker room during halftime apparently helped. The third quarter began with impressive energy on their part. Their possession didn’t end in a touchdown, but they at least narrowed the score gap by three more points. Just past the middle of the third quarter, Oklahoma running back Chris Brown made a touchdown. A two-point conversion was tried but the landing didn’t stick. WVU 20. Oklahoma 15. The Mountaineers responded quickly with a TD too (thanks to running back Noel Devine). With less than a minute left in the third quarter, WVU put another TD on the board (courtesy of Darius Reynaud forward-leaping into the end zone).
The fourth quarter started with a Sooners touchdown by wide receiver Quentin Chaney. The two-point conversion wasn’t good. WVU 34 and Oklahoma 21. WVU catapulted themselves to a greater point lead with a seventy-nine yard TD by wide receiver Tito Gonzalez in the top of the fourth quarter. Spectacular (it moved him to teary eyes). The Sooners weren’t going to just slide back and let the Mountaineers keep scoring–wide receiver Juaqin Iglesias shrank their point deficit by a TD with ten more minutes left to play. They went with a one-point conversion, which was good. WVU 41 and Oklahoma 28. But wait, the Mountaineers were very much going to keep scoring–with a sixty-five yard TD run by Noel Devine. Twenty points separated the two teams and would remain so to the end. Final score Mountaineers 48 and Sooners 28. West Virginia University won the 37th Annual Fiesta Bowl. Bill Stewart became the first interim coach this season to win a game (if I recall correctly what one of the commentators said).
Observations & Miscellania:
1. The Oklahoma marching band performed before the game began–good stuff. Great lines.
2. A freshman quarterbacking for Oklahoma? Yes indeed. His name is Sam Bradford.
3. Pre-game footage included a little snippet of WVU fans singing John Denver’s song “Take Me Home Country Roads,” which transitioned into Toby Keith talking about the Sooners and giving a short rendition of the song “Oklahoma!” from the Rogers & Hammerstein musical.
4. The National Anthem was sung by Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. A bald eagle flew over the field towards the end.
5. The officiating crew was from the SEC. Good lord. The referee’s (Steve Shaw) going hoarse!
6. Around the four minute mark in the first quarter, during the play where Sooners quarterback Bradford threw an incomplete pass intended for Iglesias, the telecast producers opted to go with the DLP camera’s perspective of Bradford throwing towards the end zone. In the next play, Mountaineers defensive back Quinton Andrews intercepted the ball in the end zone.
7. A few months ago, I posted some thoughts about what constitutes a good game; how suspense is created and maintained. By the middle of the second quarter of this Fiesta Bowl, I was convinced that the combination of touchdowns, interceptions, and pacing is key. Non-sports fans might watch five real time minutes of any kind of sporting event and find themselves bored to tears. It might take ten real time minutes of slow, non-dynamic game-play for sports fans to feel bored. After Owen Schmitt made that TD in the second quarter, the momentum of the game picked up. The second half of the game was infinitely more awesome.
8. Actually, the DLP skycam looks like some apparatus you’d find in a dentist’s office–the x-ray machine!
9. Again, there was no blue line of scrimmage. The 1st and Ten Line was on scene, though.
10. WVU quarterback Patrick White certainly likes to be mobile, he was running all over the field (understandably so…it’ll be the last game he plays until next year).
11. Each school’s marching band performed for the halftime show, of course. Holy Mary in a manger! Wow….the geometry of the performance was so beautiful. Now this is what I call a halftime show. The camera went in for a close-up of a male WVU baton twirler (no leotard!). The camera also went in for a close-up on a tuba to catch a reflection of WVU band members marching along (the tuba functioned like a fish-eye lens). Oklahoma played “Thriller” ! Sugoi!
12. Halftime also included a vignette about the 1951 San Francisco Dons (narrated by Morgan Freeman). University of San Francisco had a great season but were told they would only be able to go to a post-season bowl game if they left their two black players behind. The Dons refused. Burl Toler was a part of that team (he eventually became the first black referee). Pete Rozelle was student publicist for them. Yes, I concede that if this story were made into a film, there would be cheese steaming up and down the hallway. But it’s not a film (yet); I found it quite touching.
13. Owen Schmitt got teary-eyed when he was interviewed after his team clinched the win. It was so precious–overcome with joy and probably relief.
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