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Playoff committee sends OU to Miami where historically the Sooners have been very good
I don’t know if many of you noticed, but it’s been 15 years since we won a national championship. And it was 15 years before that when we won the one before. I don’t know if that means anything, but I’d like to think it does.
And both of those championships came in Miami. All of it in Miami. It seems that any glory that we earn must come with a trip to the land of beaches, gators, Art Deco, pastels and neon. And so it is again.
Yes, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth over Michigan State jumping us on the final day to take away a spot in Dallas.
The logic of it, frankly, still escapes me. The press seemed fixated on Oklahoma not having the advantage of playing close to home. As if they ever had a problem with it when the other guys were playing us close to home.
I was one of the many who thought that maybe, just maybe, we would finally get our chance to play one of our biggest games in our own backyard. At least I thought that until the morning after Championship Saturday, when I had resigned myself to what appeared to be ready to happen. It was bound to happen this way.
Two Orange Bowls against Florida State in Miami’s old Orange Bowl Stadium.
National title games in Miami at the Dolphins’ stadium against Florida and Florida State. A de facto national title game against Miami on their own home field.
Even in hoops — the Final Four against Kansas in Kansas City. Even in the 60s — a Gator Bowl against Florida State in Jacksonville. And the most egregious of all — a national title game against LSU in New Orleans, a crime so heinous that it made even sober men in black robes vow never again to travel to that raucous town so wisely built by the French in a broad ditch between a lake and a river.
But Miami is our destination, once again. And while it’s not strictly in Clemson’s backyard, it’s a damn sight closer to there than it is to Norman. But to Miami we must go.
In the end, though, there’s a certain symmetry to it. While we cannot win the title in Miami this time, we cannot win the title without winning in Miami, like so many times before.
In the end, how could it not be the Orange Bowl?
An initial measure of glory awaits in South Florida, with the rest waiting in the Arizona desert. Glory awaits — and a final measure of redemption.
We don’t often get stories of redemption like this season. Certainly, there are payback games from time to time, but never like this. Five times the Sooners fell in 2014, often in the most painful of ways.
A pick-six here, a missed chip-shot field goal there, a punt return that shouldn’t have been. And a beatdown in a bowl game that nobody appeared to care about.
And in 2015, all of those losses, save one, have been redeemed, many in the most satisfying of ways. Kansas State — destroyed and shut out on their home field. TCU — beaten. Baylor — beaten for the first time in its new stadium in the biggest game in their school’s history. Oklahoma State — destroyed on its home field with a conference title on the line.
All of them redeemed — save one. And that one awaits in South Florida, with a trip to the National Championship Game on the line.
So as it was a year ago, it is Oklahoma, and it is Clemson, and it is in Florida. They will wear orange helmets and we will wear crimson. But while the teams and the state and the helmets are the same, that’s about all.
Clemson is the only undefeated team in major college football. They held the top spot in the playoff committee rankings from wire to wire.
And Oklahoma? Well, we hardly resemble the sad sacks that enjoyed their week at Disney World and acted like they were still at the theme park when they hit the field at Citrus Bowl Stadium. That game was for nothing and meant nothing, and we surely played like that was the case. This game?
Well, this game is for everything and means everything, and we will surely play like that’s the case.
And while the vast majority of Sooner fans bemoaned the placement in far-away South Florida, those who will take the field on New Years’ Eve felt quite different.
They get another shot at Clemson. They get another shot at redemption. They get a chance to wipe away the last lingering vestige of the disappointments of 2014, and in the process, to punch their ticket for the biggest game of them all.
So we will go back to Miami, where Oklahoma plays for titles. Back to the Orange Bowl, where Oklahoma wins titles. We will go back to playing for the national championship. We will go back where we belong.
Boomer Sooner. See you in South Beach.
(The Road Warrior column appears in every issue of Sooner Spectator. To read more or subscribe, call 405-364-4515)