Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sooners to Play Stanford in Sun Bowl

The University of Oklahoma and Stanford University have both accepted invitations to play in the 76th annual Brut Sun Bowl , announced Sun Bowl Association football committee chairman John H. Folmer. The game will pit the Sooners and the No. 19 Cardinal on Thursday, Dec. 31 at noon (MT) at Sun Bowl Stadium.

"We are excited to invite Stanford University, which has one of the hottest head coaches in the nation in Jim Harbaugh and one of the leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy in Toby Gerhart," said Folmer. "On the other side, how can you ever go wrong with Oklahoma? Everybody in college football would die for an opportunity to have a dynamic head coach like Bob Stoops and Oklahoma play in their bowl game.

Stanford (8-4, 6-3 Pac-10) finished tied for second in the Pac-10 Conference and is the only school to beat league champion Oregon. This is Stanford's third appearance in El Paso, after winning the 1977 and 1996 Sun Bowls.

"Our players, coaches and staff are truly honored to accept the Sun Bowl Committee's invitation," said Harbaugh. "Stanford football is privileged to join the proud tradition of the Sun Bowl and the wonderful people of El Paso. We move forward with humble hearts, unwavering focus and relentless preparation."

Oklahoma (7-5, 5-3 Big 12) finished tied for third in the Big 12 Conference South Division after upending intrastate rival Oklahoma State, 27-0, in the annual Bedlam Game. This is Oklahoma's third appearance in the Sun Bowl, after winning the 1981 and 1993 Sun Bowls.

"We appreciate the invitation from the Brut Sun Bowl and are anxious to make the trip to El Paso. We look forward to a number of our fans being there as well," said Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. "In Stanford we are facing a fine program. Like many others, we have been impressed by the job Coach Harbaugh and his team have done this season and we understand the quality of the opponent we'll be facing."

The 2009 Brut Sun Bowl will mark the fifth time these two teams have meet, but the first time in 25 years. Oklahoma holds a 3-1 lead in the all-time series that spanned from 1978 to 1984.

"We are excited about the matchup and what it means to El Paso," said Bernie Olivas, executive director of the Sun Bowl Association. "Stanford has really caught the nation's attention and Oklahoma is one the nation's premier programs. This should make for an exciting matchup."

Stanford is led by senior running back Toby Gerhart, who leads the nation in total rushing yards with 1,736 yards and scoring with 26 rushing touchdowns. Gerhart is the ninth national rushing yardage leader to participate in the Brut Sun Bowl. Others include LaDainian Tomlinson (TCU), Barry Sanders (Oklahoma State), Tony Dorsett (Pittsburgh), Bob Gaiters (New Mexico State), Pervis Atkins (New Mexico State), Jim Crawford (Wyoming), Fred Wendt (UTEP) and Rudy "Little Doc" Mobley (Hardin-Simmons).

Stanford's offense is averaging 441.4 yards per game, which ranks 13th nationally. The Cardinal offense is paced by freshman quarterback Andrew Luck, a native of Houston, who is averaging 244.1 yards per game of total offense. Luck's primary targets are Ryan Whalen and Chris Owusu.

"Stanford University is very proud to be representing the Pacific-10 Conference in the Brut Sun Bowl," said Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby. "This bowl has a rich tradition and I have personally enjoyed several visits to El Paso and the Sun Bowl. We are very excited to be participating in the game with Oklahoma. Coach Stoops and his staff do an exceptional job with their football program and we look forward to the competition. I want to offer my congratulations to Coach Harbaugh, his staff and our football team, especially our seniors, on completing an excellent season. They have all worked hard and are truly deserving of playing in this prestigious bowl game."

Oklahoma is led by freshman quarterback Landry Jones, a native of Artesia, N.M., who is averaging 244.5 yards per game of total offense. The Sooners rank 28th nationally in total offense, averaging 419.4 yards per game. Oklahoma is paced on the ground by the running back tandem of DeMarco Murray (61.6 yards per game) and Chris Brown (58.6 yards per game). Ryan Broyles paces the Sooner receiving corps with 87.6 yards per game, while racking up 142.3 all-purpose yards an outing.

The Sooner defense ranks seventh nationally in total defense (273.5 yards), scoring defense (13.5 points) and rushing defense (88.58). Linebacker Travis Lewis has anchored the defense this year with 100 tackles, while Jeremy Beal has 11 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss this season.

"The Sun Bowl is a game rich in tradition and we appreciate the opportunity to play there. It is known for its first-class treatment of fans and teams. The renovated Sun Bowl Stadium is a scenic place to watch. The setting is picturesque and something our fans will enjoy," said Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione. "Stanford had an outstanding season and we appreciate the quality of their program."

Stanford will be making its 22nd bowl appearance and its first since 2001. The Cardinal are 9-10-1 (.452) in bowl games. This is Oklahoma's 43rd overall bowl appearance and 11th straight under Stoops. The Sooners are 24-17-1 (.600) in bowl games.

The 76th Annual Brut Sun Bowl is scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 31 at noon (MST). CBS Sports will broadcast the game for the 42nd consecutive year, which is the longest running partnership between a network and a bowl game. Ticket prices for the game are $15, $20, $30, $40, $50 and $60. (SoonerSports PR)
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