SAN ANTONIO — What the Nebraska Cornhuskers once were to the Missouri Tigers has been passed on to the Oklahoma Sooners.
The Sooners are the Tigers’ kryptonite.
Oklahoma earned its 19th victory in its past 20 games against Missouri with a 38-17 defeat of the Tigers in Saturday’s Big 12 Conference Championship game. This, however, might be the most costly of all the previous losses to the Sooners for the Tigers.
It cost Missouri a conference championship, and more importantly, a shot at the national championship. With so much to gain, the No. 1 Tigers crumbled, missing scoring opportunities and making costly turnovers.
The No. 9 Sooners pounded the Tigers up front as they had in the earlier meeting between the two on Oct. 13, a 41-31 victory in Norman, Okla. Oklahoma compiled 166 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. And when the running game wore out its welcome, the Sooners turned to the arm of redshirt freshman quarterback Sam Bradford, who tossed two passing scores to outperform quarterback Chase Daniel for the second time in as many meetings.
“They did the things that you need to do to win a game of this magnitude,” MU coach Gary Pinkel said. “I give them all the credit in the world.”
When the Tigers’ defense lapsed and their offense stalled, Oklahoma pounced. When Daniel threw a pass behind tight end Martin Rucker late in the third quarter that Rucker could only get one hand on, Sooners linebacker Curtis Lofton was waiting, taking the ball down to the Missouri 9-yard line.
Oklahoma running back Allen Patrick provided the haymaker two plays later. His touchdown put the game out of reach.
“They made plays and we didn’t. Bottom line,” Daniel said.
And in this, the season of the spoiler, the Tigers became the latest victim. The epidemic also made a stop in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday when Pittsburgh defeated No. 2 West Virginia 13-9. The Mountaineers became the seventh No. 2-ranked team to lose this season. When it looked as if the national championship picture might become a bit clearer, the Sooners and Panthers added another splash of craziness.
After the top two teams in the BCS rankings lost on the season’s final weekend, the most likely situation now is that Ohio State will slide into the No. 1 spot for its second-straight BCS National Championship appearance.
Missouri, meanwhile, still has a chance at a possible at-large bid. But the way this season has gone, who knows?