January 01, 2011
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma 48, Connecticut 20. UConn arrived on the biggest stage in program history with pretty much everyone expecting it to be heckled off in short order, and the Huskies obliged the haters by falling behind immediately and never seriously threatening Oklahoma's cushion. For a team that failed to find the end zone on offense, though, you have to give the Huskies this: They're survivors, turning in an early pick-six to cut the Sooners' lead to 14-7 in the second quarter and later a kickoff return in the third quarter (shortly followed by a field goal) to keep the score within theoretical striking distance down the stretch. But only in theory – in reality, the Huskies were punching well out of their weight class.
Still, a Fiesta Bowl win is a Fiesta Bowl win, especially for Oklahoma, which sucker-punched in the same game as a big favorite in both 2006 (Boise State) and 2007 (West Virginia). Before that, it was the Sooners' back-to-back championship flops in the 2004 Sugar Bowl (LSU) and 2005 Orange Bowl (USC); after, another BCS loss to Florida in 2008. When your postseason resumé trumps the early nineties Buffalo Bills' for ongoing big-game futility, you'll take the win however, and against whomever, you can get it.
And if you happen to win by four touchdowns with upwards of 500 yards total offense in the process, well, that's gravy. If highlight-reel receiver Ryan Broyles can be convinced to return for his senior season along with junior-to-be Landry Jones next fall, the Sooners will have one of the two or three most explosive pass-catch combos in the country on hand for another run at the crown of the slimmed-down Big 12 and the BCS title game in New Orleans. At least the next time they're up, Bob Stoops won't have to deal with questions about the streak, like he's never done this before.
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Matt Hinton is on Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.