Colorado’s hopes for upsetting fourth-ranked Oklahoma rested on winning the kicking game and forcing a few turnovers.
Those two objectives escaped them at Boulder, Colo., however, and the Sooners emerged Saturday with a 28-0 Big Eight victory that moved them one step closer to an Orange Bowl berth.
“We won the kicking game, which was something I was very concerned about, and we didn’t turn it over,” Oklahoma Coach Barry Switzer said.
“Our punter (Todd Thomsen) did a super job of creating good field position for our defense.”
Oklahoma held the Buffaloes to 135 yards of total offense and recorded its fourth shutout in five games.
“I gave all our defensive players game balls,” Switzer said. “They were outstanding today.”
Meanwhile, Colorado was hurt by two punting-game breakdowns and four turnovers.
“Essentially, it was a case of them not making any mistakes and us letting the ball game get out of hand by making mistakes,” Colorado Coach Bill McCartney said.
“We have to develop a better offense. We just don’t have the speed to threaten the perimeter. And we’re not so strong on defense that we can afford to punt the ball all day, let’s face it.”
Colorado’s defense did manage to slow down the Sooner wishbone. Oklahoma came into the game leading the nation in total offense at 499 yards, but it had only 344 yards Saturday.
However, Oklahoma needed to drive only 2 and 38 yards for two of its touchdowns.
Despite facing several second-and-long situations, the Sooners did not attempt a pass in the game.
“If we don’t have to throw, then we don’t,” said quarterback Jamelle Holieway, who rushed for a game-high 126 yards.
“We sputtered at times, but the defense turned the ball over for us. Colorado didn’t let us break off any long ones, so we just pounded away. Outside of Miami, Colorado’s defense is the best we’ve faced.”
Brian Bosworth, Oklahoma’s outspoken linebacker, wasn’t as complimentary of Colorado’s offense.
“I don’t understand some of the plays they called,” he said. “When you’re 21 points down, you just can’t stay with your option offense like they did.”
Halfback Patrick Collins added 63 yards and 2 touchdowns as Oklahoma improved its conference record to 6-0 and overall mark to 9-1 heading into next week’s title showdown with Nebraska, which has one conference loss--to Colorado.
Colorado had its five-game winning streak snapped and fell to 5-1 in the conference and 5-5 overall.
Iowa St. 48, Kansas St. 19--At Ames, Iowa, Alex Espinoza completed 14 of 26 passes for a career-high 286 yards and tied a school record with 4 touchdown passes as the Cyclones, 3-3 in the Big Eight and 6-4 overall, responded to the firing of Coach Jim Criner by clinching their first winning season in six years.
The players, in their first outing under acting Coach Chuck Banker, secretly wore Criner’s initials inside their helmets.
Criner, who was fired last Wednesday as the school completed its investigation of alleged NCAA rule violations, watched the game from an end-zone fence and later from the stands.
Tony Jordan set a school single-game rushing mark with 218 yards in 34 carries, including an 89-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for Kansas State (1-5 and 2-8).