Jan 1, 2003
By OWEN CANFIELD
AP Sports Writer
PASADENA, Calif. (AP) - Oklahoma made its first trip to the Rose Bowl one to remember. Mike Price's last game as Washington State's coach was one to forget.
The eighth-ranked Sooners dominated on defense and broke the game open with two late first-half touchdowns on their way to a 34-14 victory Wednesday.
Price was hired by Alabama in mid-December but chose to stay with the seventh-ranked Cougars for the bowl game. The Sooners may have made him wish he had left a lot sooner - and may have made Crimson Tide fans a little uneasy.
Cougars quarterback Jason Gesser was 17-of-34 for 240 and two interceptions, and he was sacked six times. He was another star shut down by a defense that throttled Seneca Wallace of Iowa State, Kliff Kingsbury of Texas Tech and Chris Simms of Texas during the regular season.
Oklahoma (12-2) held the Cougars (10-3) to 243 total yards, their lowest total of the season.
Nate Hybl was 19-of-29 passing for 240 yards and two touchdowns and was chosen the game's MVP. Quentin Griffin had 144 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries, his 10th straight 100-yard game.
The Sooners outgained Washington State by a 2-to-1 margin in the first half but had just a 3-0 lead before scoring twice in the final 1:51.
The first touchdown came on a 12-yard pass from Hybl to Antwone Savage. Hybl also had completions of 30 and 19 yards in the 65-yard drive.
The Cougars were forced to punt on their next possession and Antonio Perkins returned the kick 51 yards for a touchdown that made it 17-0. Perkins was due - he had two other big returns wiped out by penalties in the first quarter.
After being shut out in the first half for the first time this season, the Cougars put together a nice drive to open the third quarter. They moved from their 8 to the Oklahoma 41 before Gesser was intercepted on a tipped ball. Oklahoma turned that into a field goal.
Washington State moved to the Oklahoma 34 early in the fourth quarter but turned it over on downs, failing to convert a fourth-and-1 play. The Sooners then drove 66 yards in 11 plays, with Hybl hitting Curtis Fagan on a 9-yard scoring pass for a 27-0 lead with 8:02 to play.
The Cougars, who came in averaging just under 35 points, finally scored on a 37-yard pass from Gesser to Jerome Riley with 6:08 remaining, avoiding their first shutout since 1984.
After Oklahoma's final touchdown, Sammy Moore scored on an 89-yard kickoff return for the Cougars.
The Sooners were playing in their 36th bowl game but their first Rose Bowl. They got invited after the Orange Bowl picked Iowa and Southern California for its game. That left the Rose Bowl without a Pac-10-Big 10 matchup for the first time since 1947, not counting last year when this game was the site of the BCS national championship game between Miami and Nebraska.
Price, hired two weeks ago by Alabama, will get to see the Sooners again shortly. His second game as the Crimson Tide's coach will be against Oklahoma.
The crowd of 86,848 on a sunny, 70-degree day was the smallest at this game since 1944, when 68,000 watched USC beat Washington 29-0.
The game was sponsored by PlayStation 2.