With a fair amount of static that this could be the Legend’s final season, I felt it appropriate to take a look at what I feel are the ten biggest wins between both of his tenures. I tried to choose the best games that both had a significant impact on the program and in Bill’s coaching career. Starting August 23rd, I’ll be adding the next game in the countdown every day until kickoff. Enjoy.
Dr Pepper Big 12 Championship Game – December 6th 2003 – #15 KSU 35, #1 Oklahoma 7
Bill Snyder had already experienced a career unlike few others…but he’d never gotten his conference championship. He also had yet to beat his former protege in OU head coach Bob Stoops. This game would change that.
The 2003 Oklahoma Sooners had been hailed as the “greatest college football team of all time” for a large portion of the year, smashing opponents by an average of 48-12 and cruising through the regular season slate undefeated. The Wildcats were on a late season rebound, winning their final six games and the Big 12 North in the process. Pundits, however, gave them absolutely no shot against the Sooners (seriously, just look at these clips starting at the 5:48 mark).
It began according to script, with KSU punting on their opening possession before OU’s Kejuan Jones took a handoff 42 yards to the house. The Sooners indeed looked primed for another blowout after the Wildcat offense punted again on their next drive. But the defense would hold this time.
After getting the ball back but still without a first down, Snyder decided to unleash his Weapon of Mass Destruction (alternately identified as shifty 5’7″ running back Darren Sproles). On third down at his own 10, Ell Roberson took a 5 step drop and looped a screen pass over the oncoming Sooner defensive line to Sproles, who burst and cut ahead for a 25 yard gain and a fresh set out of downs. He would only take off from there:
On the first play of the 2nd quarter, Sproles took a pitch to left side and did the rest on his own:
Frustrating runs like these would terrorize OU all evening long. A couple of plays later, Roberson would find tight end Brian Casey wide open down the seam on third down for his first TD toss of the night, knotting the game at 7. After the defense managed another big stop, Snyder elected to ambush the unsuspecting Oklahoma secondary off playaction:
The 63 yard “home run” was a bit underthrown but worked to receiver James Terry’s advantage as he was able to readjust and make the catch while the Sooner defenders overran the play. He waltzed into the endzone, stunning the OU faithful and putting the Crimson and Cream behind for the first time all season. The purple weren’t about to go quietly.
After the kickoff, the Sooners would drive all the way inside the KSU 10 yard line, but on third down eventual Heisman-winning quarterback Jason White would force a throw under pressure, only for it to be picked in the endzone by Wildcat DB James McGill.
OU was rattled.
Looking to to step on the Sooners’ throats just before the half, the offense would do exactly that just four plays later when Sproles left the OU secondary in the rearview mirror on another screen pass:
The Sooner sideline was flabbergasted. Wildcat fans had started to believe.
KSU opened the 2nd half right where they left off, stifling the Sooners offensively before driving deep into their territory once again. After nearly turning the ball over on a run, Roberson would bounce back on the next snap – rifling a TD throw between a pair of OU defenders to Antoine Polite. It was his Big 12 championship-record 4th TD pass of the night and felt like all but a death blow.
The OU offense, beyond desperate by this point, began airing it out with reckless abandon. However, White would stare down his receiver on 3rd down and threw his pass right to Wildcat linebacker Ted Sims, who punctuated the unforgettable performance:
Oklahoma would wave the white flag shortly after. Roberson concluded the destruction 10/17 for 227 yards and the aforementioned 4 TDs, while Sproles racked up a Big 12 championship-record 235 rushing yards with a receiving TD.
To this day, Sooner fans remain haunted by this particular outcome. I find it awfully poetic that Coach Snyder captured his first conference title in this fashion and under the circumstances, essentially acting as David fighting off Goliath his entire career. The game also served as an avenue into the national spotlight for Sproles, who finally began receiving the proper attention for his talents that few outside of Manhattan had known about for most of the prior two years – and even led to an outright endorsement for the Heisman trophy from Snyder in the postgame interview (an emotional rarity for him, especially in those days). It even inspired one of the most popular Wildcat highlight videos of all time.
For all the perpetual craziness that is college football, this game continues to be viewed as one of the biggest upsets in college football history.
***Full game below***
Jake is also a writer at www.big12country.com. Find his other stuff plus much more by clicking the link.