UNDEFEATED: Oklahoma's Josh Heupel may not have won the Heisman Trophy,
but he led his team to a 13-2 Orange Bowl victory over Florida State.
MIAMI In the end, the little guy, the overlooked guy, won.
When Quentin Griffin, Oklahoma's 5-6 running back, hid behind the widebodies on his offensive line and squirted into the end zone for the game-clinching touchdown in Wednesday night's national championship game against Florida State, little guys everywhere rejoiced. Little guys like quarterback Josh Heupel, the former junior college player whose wobbly passes matched the circuitous route he took to Oklahoma.
Oklahoma dominates in an unexpected defensive matchup
Sooners flatten FSU 13-2, win 7th national title
End the debate. Forget the recount jokes.The Oklahoma Sooners are
the undisputed national champs. Top-ranked OU put an exclamation point
on a 13-0 season by whipping defending champion Florida State 13-2
in the Orange Bowl for its first title since 1985.
Oklahoma Wins National Title, Defeats Florida State in FedEx Orange
.Quentin Griffin's 10-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter highlighted a 13-2 victory over Florida State, giving the Sooners the National Championship.
Tim Duncan hit field goals from 27 and 42 yards to help put Oklahoma past Florida State.
to top of college football world
|Championship Caps Dream for Heupel
By OWEN CANFIELD
He was in no hurry to leave Pro Player Stadium, where he had led the Sooners to a 13-2 victory over Florida State in the Orange Bowl for their seventh national title and first since 1985.
``It's a dream come true, a long time coming, and I wouldn't have rather done it anywhere but here,'' Heupel said. ``It's great to have it come to a culmination, have all your dreams come true.''
Heupel first wondered about a national title when he made his recruiting
trip to Oklahoma two years ago. He asked Bob Stoops, then in his first
month on the job, whether he felt the Sooners would be able to challenge
for a Big 12 and national championship during Heupel's two years in
He came to a school that had won 12 games in the previous three seasons, a school known for its ability to run the football, not throw it. He was being asked to be the point man in the transition to a wide-open passing attack.
He wound up succeeding beyond all expectations, throwing for 6,800 yards and 50 touchdowns, breaking virtually every passing record along the way.
But Stoops often pointed to Heupel's leadership skills and toughness as being more important than the statistics, and those traits came through against Florida State.
Heupel, the Heisman Trophy runner-up to Florida State's Chris Weinke, was 25-of-39 for 214 yards and one interception. But he also ran some option plays, a handful of draws and did whatever was needed on a night when both defenses were outstanding.
``He took some vicious hits out there, vicious,'' offensive coordinator Mark Mangino said. ``He did what he had to do to win the game. That's why he's a winner.
``The bottom line is, he's a winner. He proved that. He's 13-0.''
Heupel entered the game amid speculation that his throwing elbow, which bothered him late in the regular season, was still a problem. But for the most part, he threw the ball well against Florida State.
Mangino said the elbow wasn't 100 percent. Stoops and Heupel each shrugged off any suggestion that Heupel wasn't OK.
``It was good enough to go on the field, therefore there's no limitations,'' Heupel said.
His 36-yard completion to Josh Norman was the big play in a first-quarter drive that ended with a field goal. He made a bad play later in the quarter when he threw an interception near the goal line.
But he made perhaps the biggest offensive play of the night in the third quarter, when he rolled to his right, then threw across his body downfield to Curtis Fagan for a 39-yard completion. That set up Tim Duncan's second field goal and gave Oklahoma a 6-0 lead.
With Heupel in charge, the Oklahoma offense kept the ball 12 minutes more than the Seminoles.
``This is absolutely what he wanted to win a national championship,'' Stoops said. ``He's a great leader and he got what he wanted.''
As the game ended, several players hoisted Heupel on their shoulders for a brief ride. He got a long hug from Stoops, and after taking part in the trophy presentation, led the Oklahoma band in the fight song, wearing a baseball cap backward and smiling broadly.
From there, he made his way to the stands along the sideline, where he pulled his high school coach out of the mob. He finally fought through the crowd of cameras and well-wishers and headed off the field to join his teammates in the locker room.
``There's nothing to describe it, to have one vision, one goal, to set it out before you and have it come to pass,'' Heupel said.
``It's just pure excitement, enjoyment, a little bit of relief, such
a sense of accomplishment.''
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