One of the best defenses of the BCS era, and one of the period’s premier offenses happen to come from arch-rival programs. The next match-up of the SaturdayBlitz.com Sweet 16 pits the 2000 Oklahoma Sooners against the 2005 Texas Longhorns in an extension of the Big 12 Conference’s storied Red Rivers Shootout.
Vince Young’s fourth down jaunt to the end zone handed USC its first loss since September 2003 and silenced the premature celebrations of the 2005 Trojans among college football’s all-time great teams. In turn, the 2005 Longhorns solidified themselves among the greatest ever.
Young was ridiculous that season, operating at a level no dual threat quarterback had since Charlie Ward for the 1993 Florida State Seminoles. He was the predecessor to Tim Tebow, Robert Griffin III and Johnny Manziel. All of them won a Heisman Trophy, which eluded Young. But the crystal ball was surely a nice consolation.
Young led a Longhorn offense that scored 50.2 points per game. While football fans might be desensitized to such a sum in the wide open game of 2013, only three teams averaged more than 40 per game in the 2005 season.
The quarterback’s ability to spread out defenses extended beyond his running and passing. Young was also effective in spreading out among multiple receivers, finding three different targets for five touchdowns apiece, and ranging from 545 to 750 yards on the season. Add Jamaal Charles as a complementary piece in the backfield and Jonathan Scott paving holes on the offensive line, and it’s no wonder the Longhorns scored at will.
The 2000 Sooners were the polar opposite. Oklahoma was a throwback even by the standards prevalent 12 years ago. Current Sooner offensive coordinator Josh Heupel was not setting the world on fire at quarterback — he passed for more than 3300 yards, but threw 14 interceptions to 20 touchdowns. Leading rusher Quentin Griffin scored 16 touchdowns, but rushed only for an adequate 783 yards.
Griffin’s production wasn’t the result of operating in a multifaceted backfield, either. The next most productive Sooner carried for half that, and the third most prolific rusher for half of that.
If the opponent doesn’t score, you must only score once: so says an old coaching cliche that resonates true. With a ball-hawking defensive unit, Oklahoma’s offensive players didn’t need gaudy stats — not with J.T. Thatcher intercepting eight passes, or Rocky Calmus wreaking havoc on opposing run games.
Almost half of OU’s wins in 2000 came against opponents ranked in the top 25 the week they saw the Sooners. Bob Stoops earned the moniker “Big Game Bob” in leading his team to defeats of No. 3 (Florida State in the Orange Bowl), No. 2 (Kansas State) and No. 1 (Nebraska). Oklahoma actually swept K-State, which was ranked in the top 10 both in their regular season meeting and in the Big 12 championship.
Nowhere was the Sooners’ defensive prowess more evident than in the BCS title game, though. Against Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke, OU pitched a shutout. Florida State’s sole points came on a safety.
Vote for your Sweet 16, Red River Shootout choice and let us know how you cast ballot and why in the comments. You can also vote on our other Sweet 16 match-ups, linked below.
BCS Sweet 16: Who Advances?
- 2000 Oklahoma Sooners (59%, 84 Votes)
- 2005 Texas Longhorns (41%, 58 Votes)
Total Voters: 142