In case you haven’t heard, the Milliron Sports crew is headed to Ohio Brew Week, in Athens, OH this upcoming weekend. I’m a proud Bobcat, even though I left after my sophomore year to pursue my education back home in Cincinnati. There are so many memories (some a little hazy) from my time at OU that stick out, but my favorite memory from an OU sporting event happened in September of 2005.
The Pittsburgh Panthers had started the season ranked #23 in the nation under new coach Dave Wannstedt, who had just the previous season been coaching in the NFL for the Miami Dolphins. Ohio had also welcomed a new coach that year; former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich. Solich was tasked with turning the Bobcats program around, and bringing them back into MAC Championship contention.
On a warm Saturday night in September, Peden Stadium was ROCKING with a record crowd on hand for Solich’s home debut on a nationally televised stage. Mac, Whitty (both fellow Milliron Sports bloggers) and I had pre-gamed with some friends in the dorms before heading to the game a little later than we should have. On our way in, we heard the crowd moan, and go silent. Pitt had returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
We were down, but we weren’t out. Not if Dion Byrum had anything to say about it. The Senior CB picked off a pass and took it to the house, tying the game up. Another drive before halftime, and OU took a 10-7 lead with a FG. I’ll never forget Mac heckling Wannstedt as he talked to a reporter heading into the locker rooms at halftime. After the interview, Wannstedt shot us a look; we know he heard us.
The buzz was beginning to wear off for me, as the game wore on. There wasn’t a ton of offense from either side; it was pretty brutal to watch in person, especially with my initial expectation of a loss coming our way, and as someone who badly wanted to go get more booze. We took that 10-7 lead into the fourth, and the craziest thought crept into my head: we may actually win this game. The seconds ticked away in the fourth as we held a 3 point lead. On a last-minute drive, Pitt kicked a field goal to tie the game up and send us to OT. And then this happened:
Dion Byrum picked off his 2nd pass of the game and returned it for a TD to seal the Bobcats victory. I was one of the thousands that stormed the field to find a couple of friends that I had on the football team. We celebrated like we had won the BCS championship game that night, and though I may have blacked out, it’s a night I’ll never forget.