Glendale, AZ (Sports Network) – Landry Jones passed for 429 yards and three touchdowns and No. 9 Oklahoma rarely had trouble with upstart Connecticut in a 48-20 win at the Fiesta Bowl.
The Big 12 champion Sooners (12-2) earned their first BCS bowl win in eight years, moving the ball with ease behind Jones and returning two interceptions for touchdowns.
The 25th-ranked Huskies (8-5) were playing in their first BCS bowl game after winning the Big East, but they never really sniffed an upset despite scoring touchdowns on an interception and kickoff return.
Jones’ favorite target in the win was Ryan Broyles, who had 13 catches for 170 yards and a touchdown. Cameron Kenney caught seven passes for 154 yards and a score.
The Oklahoma quarterback finished 34-of-49 and set a school record for bowl game passing yards. Afterward, he offered a well-deserved thank you to his line, which anchored a 524-yard offensive performance by the Sooners.
“They made my job easy tonight,” he said.
Connecticut quarterback Zach Frazer threw for 223 yards, with both of his interceptions returned for touchdowns, while the strong Huskies running game got 121 yards on 32 carries by Jordan Todman.
Prior to Saturday, the Sooners had lost five straight BCS bowl games dating back to 2003, including the National Championship Game to Florida two years ago and back-to-back Fiesta Bowls before that to Boise State and West Virginia.
But Oklahoma controlled the game from its first possession on this New Year’s Day, and the defense didn’t give up a touchdown.
“I’m proud of the players. They sure deserve the credit,” said Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. “Both sides of the ball really did play well all night.”
Connecticut won five straight games to finish the regular season and tied West Virginia and Pittsburgh for first place in the Big East. The Huskies won a tiebreaker for the conference’s BCS bowl spot, and although the game didn’t turn out in his team’s favor, Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall called it “a great experience.”
“It is something now that they can strive for each and every year,” Edsall said. “They know what it takes.”
Jones completed all six of his passes on Oklahoma’s first possession — he was 11-for-11 to open the game — including an eight-yard touchdown throw to tight end James Hanna that made it 7-0 just 4:45 into the game.
The Sooners went 70 yards in nine plays on the drive and were able to move the ball well in the first half, but a turnover kept Connecticut in the game early on.
Oklahoma stopped the Huskies on a fourth-down attempt and Jones’ 39-yard pass to Broyles set up a three-yard touchdown run by DeMarco Murray, giving the Sooners a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.
But Connecticut’s Dwayne Gratz picked off a poorly-thrown pass by Jones in the middle of the field, then took it outside and down the left sideline for a touchdown to halve the Huskies’ deficit.
Oklahoma responded with back-to-back field goals from Jimmy Stevens, from 41 and 24 yards, and Connecticut got a 37-yarder from Dave Teggart to pull within 20-10 at halftime.
Jones was 21-of-27 in the first half for 233 yards but threw maybe his best pass early in the third quarter, finding Cameron Kenney behind the safety on the right sideline for a 59-yard touchdown.
Kenney used a stiff-arm at the three-yard line to get in. He finished the game with seven catches for 154 yards.
Connecticut barely got the ball back before its deficit increased even further.
Receiver Michael Smith let a short pass bounce off his hands as he fell to the ground, and Jamell Fleming came up with it, taking the interception down the right sideline for a touchdown and 34-10 Oklahoma lead.
But just as they gave points away with a big mistake, the Huskies took them right back with a big play — Robbie Frey’s 95-yard touchdown return on the ensuing kickoff.
Teggart kicked a 38-yard field goal on their next possession to draw the Huskies within 34-20.
Broyles broke free on a punt return later in the third quarter and looked likely to score, but he was caught from behind after 55 yards and fumbled the ball away inside the Connecticut 20.
The Huskies failed to capitalize on the turnover, however, and Oklahoma pushed its lead to 41-20 on Broyles’ leaning five-yard touchdown catch near out of bounds with 7:49 remaining in the game.
Tony Jefferson returned an interception 22 yards for a touchdown and the final margin, snagging a ball that popped out of a Connecticut receiver’s hands and taking it down the left sideline.
“There were a lot of big plays made,” Stoops said.
It was the 40th Fiesta Bowl…Oklahoma ended the regular season with four straight wins, including a victory over Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship Game…The Sooners improved to 26-17-1 overall in bowl games. They are 3-2 in the Fiesta Bowl…Broyles extended his single-season records to 131 catches and 1,622 receiving yards.