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Oklahoma 48 – Virginia 14

December 29, 1991 ▪ at Jacksonville ▪ Attendance 62,003

It would be the first meeting ever between the two schools. Tenth-year Virginia head coach George Welsh brought his 8-2-1 Cavaliers into the Gator Bowl, making their fifth post-season appearance during his tenure and third consecutive. They were ranked #19 in the AP poll and were riding a five-game winning streak and an eight-game unbeaten streak, and they were making their third consecutive bowl appearance, and fourth in five years.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma was off NCAA probation, and they were making their first bowl trip since the '88 season. Under third-year coach Gary Gibbs, they came into the game ranked #20 with an 8-3 mark, having lost to rivals Texas, Colorado and Nebraska. But they were a talented group led by All-American senior linebacker Joe Bowden, who was joined on the All-Big Eight team by defensive end Reggie Barnes, senior defensive back Jason Belser and senior offensive tackle Brian Braununger. Also named to the post-season conference team was senior running back Mike Gaddis, who had scored 14 touchdowns and rushed for 1,240 yards, becoming the first Sooner in eight years to reach 1,000.

In front of over 62,000 fans, Oklahoma punted to end their first drive of the game, but then, using a more wide-open attack instead of their traditional run-oriented offense, they found the end zone each of the next five times they touched the ball. The Sooners opened the scoring in the first quarter with a ten-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Cale Gundy, an honorable mention all-conference pick who hit 91 of 172 passes for 1,228 yards and eight touchdowns, to tight end Joey Mickey, the only score of the frame. It was followed in the second quarter by Gaddis' two-yard and eight-yard runs, Russell Jones' four-yard blocked punt, and another scoring strike through the air of 13 yards from Gundy to Mickey. After Scott Blanton's missed extra point, Oklahoma was up 34-0 in the second quarter.

Virginia managed to get on the scoreboard with 2:24 remaining in the first half when quarterback Matt Blundin, the '91 Atlantic Coast Conference's Player of the Year, completed a 22-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Tyrone Davis. Moments later, Oklahoma fumbled the ball away on their own 22-yard line and it was recovered by Mike Frederick, but their offense was unable to penetrate the Sooners' defense, which held on downs.

In the third quarter, Oklahoma engineered two more touchdown drives, capped by a pair of seven-yard runs by Kenyon Rasheed and Gaddis, to put the game out of reach at 48-7 heading into the final period. Virginia did manage to cross the goal line when Blundin fired a 23-yard strike to receiver Terrence Tomlin. But it was merely window dressing in a 48-14 blowout.

For Oklahoma, it was a triumphant return to the bowl schedule, their first win since the Orange Bowl following the '86 season. For Virginia, the loss snapped an unbeaten streak and was a disappointing ending to an otherwise outstanding season.

Oklahoma's offensive strategy was executed almost perfectly as they piled up 618 yards in total offense and picked up 36 first downs. Gundy completed 25 of 31 passes for 329 yards and two touchdowns, and was named the game's Most Valuable Player, and Cory Warren was on the receiving end of five of his passes and picked up 110 yards. Gaddis led the Sooners' 261-yard rushing attack with 104 yards on 20 carries, and scored three touchdowns.

Meanwhile, the defense completed the domination by holding Virginia's offense to a season-low 243 yards in total offense and permitted just 13 first downs. Blundin completed 12 of 26 passes for 142 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.

Although disappointed with the Cavaliers' poor showing, the coaching staff appeared determined to gain something positive from the loss. "This is not a tape we're going to burn," said Welsh. "We'll look at this and see if we can learn something from it."

Added defensive coordinator Rick Lantz, "I talked to each and every (defensive) player. I said, 'Don't forget this game. It shows all of us where we need to go and what we need to do to reach the level we want to be at.'"

Source: Jeff Linkowski