NORMAN, Okla. — Sam Bradford jumped around as he took a victory lap at Owen Field, handing out high-fives along the way to a line of adoring fans who had yet another reason to love him.
Bradford has the Oklahoma Sooners surging in the national championship race, raising his own Heisman stock as he goes. And, oh, what a mighty fall it was for Texas Tech.
Bradford threw for 304 yards and four touchdowns, and DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown combined to run for five more scores as the fifth-ranked Sooners brought an unceremonious end to No. 2 Texas Tech’s run toward perfection in a 65-21 blowout Saturday night.
“I can’t remember a game where I even had near as much fun,” Bradford said.
The question now is this: Did the Sooners (10-1, 6-1 Big 12) do enough to make up for that loss to Texas?
The Longhorns have held a trump card since the annual Red River Rivalry game in October, having beaten Oklahoma 45-35 on a neutral field at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
But the Sooners came up with as resounding a statement as they could by stifling Graham Harrell, who came into Norman as the Heisman Trophy favorite but might have relinquished that title to Bradford.
“Obviously, now we’re in the mix with everybody,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. “With the way we played, you would think ahead.
“The logic of whether to put us in front of Texas? If you can’t do that because they beat us, then you’ve got to keep Texas Tech in front of Texas. What’s logical for one is logical for the other.”
Harrell was 33-for-55 for 361 yards and three touchdowns, which looks good on paper, but most of those numbers didn’t mean much. Michael Crabtree, who leads the nation with 18 touchdown catches, was kept out of the end zone by the Sooners.
Neither one came out to talk to reporters afterward. Only running back Baron Batch and linebacker Brian Duncan joined coach Mike Leach in the interview room.
“We really wanted to do well, and we went out there and over-tried instead of doing routine things,” Leach said.
The Red Raiders (10-1, 6-1) fell into a three-way tie atop the Big 12 South with Texas and Oklahoma, with only one week left in the regular season. If the three finish tied, the BCS standings would determine which team plays No. 12 Missouri in the Big 12 championship game in Kansas City, Mo., on Dec. 6.
So the Bowl Championship Series controversy could come early this season, a week before the pairings are even set.
The Big 12 South race isn’t over yet, though. There’s still the matter of the Bedlam rivalry, and this time it’s Oklahoma’s turn to go on the road to face No. 11 Oklahoma State. The Longhorns will face their in-state rival, too, and will need to break a two-game losing streak against Texas A&M on Thanksgiving Day.
Texas Tech finishes its regular season against Baylor, and could still sneak into the Big 12 title game with an Oklahoma State upset.
“I don’t know why we would be the hunted. We didn’t accomplish nothing,” Murray said. “We just won. We’re not No. 1. We haven’t won anything. We haven’t won a national championship since 2000.
“We’re still hunting to get to where we need to be and get to where we want to be. As far as that goes, we’re still playing with a chip on our shoulder.”
Oklahoma will have to deal with that next week. This week was all about dominance.
The suddenly stingy Sooners held Tech scoreless on five straight possessions for the first time this season, and got to Harrell — who’d been sacked only five times all season — on back-to-back plays in the first quarter while the nation’s highest-scoring offense kept on clicking.
Juaquin Iglesias put Oklahoma up 28-0 when he zipped across the middle to catch a pass from Bradford and then stopped in his tracks at the 15 to juke a pair of defenders and clear his way to the end zone for a 28-yard score.
Desperate to make something happen, Harrell made matters worse in the final minute before halftime. His pass across the middle was right at Travis Lewis, who intercepted it and ran it back to the doorstep. Murray punched it in with a 1-yard dive, and the Sooners’ lead reached 42-7.
That sent the noisy fans — who’d been challenged by Stoops this week for not being raucous enough — into a frenzy. The Sooners joined the record-setting sellout crowd of 85,646 by hopping up and down on the sideline as House of Pain’s “Jump Around” blared over the loudspeaker.
“It was the best feeling ever. The crowd was nuts,” cornerback Dominique Franks said.
Leach tried a desperation onside kick to start the second half, but that failed, and the next drive ended with a Shannon Woods fumble that Keenan Clayton returned to the 3 to set up another Brown touchdown.
“It’s no fun, but it’s something you have to learn from,” Batch said.
“Jump Around” played again in the break after the third quarter and one last time after Texas Tech scored a meaningless touchdown with 21 seconds left.
Fans got one last chance to cheer as Bradford and the Sooners took a rare victory lap.
Bradford’s four passes pushed him past the school record of 40 in a season, set by Jason White in his 2003 Heisman season. And maybe that kind of finish is in the cards for him, too.
“That’s great, but I’d much rather have the wins,” Bradford said. “As long as we win, I’m happy.”
Murray finished with 125 yards and two touchdowns, and Brown added 108 yards and three scores as the Sooners ran roughshod over a defense that had improved enough this year to turn the Red Raiders from just an outstanding offense to the complete package.
That was all torn apart on Owen Field, where the Sooners have won 24 straight games — the longest home winning streak in the country and one away from the school record.
“I don’t know what else, what other style points you’re looking for,” Stoops said. “That’s about as solid and complete as anybody’s played those guys.”