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Rose Bowl | NOTES

Griffin Passes on Try for Sooner Rushing Mark

January 02, 2003|Steve Henson, Shav Glick and Robyn Norwood | Times Staff Writers

Someday Quentin Griffin might regret turning down an offer to return to the Rose Bowl game with less than two minutes to play to chase an Oklahoma rushing record.

This, however, was not the day.

"I didn't want to go out there just to pad my stats," he said.

Griffin, a senior tailback, rushed for 144 yards to finish with 1,884, eight behind the record set by Billy Sims in 1978.

When Washington State's Sammy Moore returned a kickoff for a touchdown with 1:34 to play, the Sooners unexpectedly got the ball back one last time. Coach Bob Stoops informed Griffin that he was close to the record and asked him if he wanted to pursue it.

Griffin, whose shoulder was sore after toting the ball 30 times, declined.

"I couldn't talk him into going back in," Stoops said. "That's his humility. His shoulder was sore and he wanted to see other guys play."

Griffin did extend his school record by eclipsing 100 yards for the 10th game in a row.

*

Stoops' elation turned to aggravation when reporters asked questions that appeared to disparage quarterback Nate Hybl and speculate on whether Stoops might take an NFL job.

The first question was prefaced by the observation that Hybl has been asked throughout his career simply not to lose games.

"That is not the case," Stoops bellowed. "The way he handled himself on the field tonight was the way he's been all along. How many touchdowns did he throw for this season? He's an excellent leader and an excellent football player."

Hybl, the game's most valuable player, certainly played an excellent game, completing 19 of 29 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.

The next question centered on reports that Stoops would consider leaving Oklahoma for NFL riches. Again, he bristled.

"This [talk] happens every time," he said. "We just won the Rose Bowl. I don't need to deal in rumors and innuendoes."

*

When Jerome Riley scored Washington State's first touchdown with six minutes to play, it was the first time the Cougars had scored on Oklahoma in three games -- a total of 174 minutes.

Oklahoma won, 28-0, in 1938 and 21-0 in 1967.

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With 239 yards passing, Jason Gesser passed Drew Bledsoe for second on Washington State's single-season passing list, finishing with 3,398

Ryan Leaf leads with 3,968.

*

Defensive end Jonathan Jackson and linebacker Teddy Lehman each had two of Oklahoma's six sacks.

"That was the best pressure up front I've seen us have," safety Eric Bassey said.

*

Signs outside the media interview rooms:

"Interview Room-Winning Coach" and "Interview Room-Runner-up Coach."

That's also known as the losing coach.

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