BOULDER, Colo. - Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops envisioned it going down to the wire. Colorado's Dan Hawkins had a hunch his team would pull off the big upset.
Both coaches turned out to be correct, and the Buffaloes dealt a serious blow to the Sooners' national title hopes when Kevin Eberhart kicked a career-long 45-yard field goal as time expired to send Colorado past No. 3 Oklahoma, 27-24, yesterday.
"I told them all week they're going to win the game," Hawkins said. "You know when your team's ready, you know when you're poised."
His players certainly didn't doubt his weeklong declarations of this impending upset.
"He just reinforced what we already knew," defensive tackle George Hypolite said.
This was the Buffaloes' first win over a top-five team since Dec. 1, 2001, when they beat Texas in the Big 12 title game, and their most significant victory in Boulder since a 62-36 drubbing of second-ranked Nebraska a week before that Texas win.
"They outplayed us and outcoached us," Stoops said. "They fought their way to a heck of a win."
After Eberhart's kick cleared the crossbar, the Sooners, who had blown a 24-7 second-half lead, walked off dejected, trying to avoid the onslaught of Buffs fans storming the field in celebration of what they hope is a revival of the once-proud program.
The Sooners (4-1, 0-1) came in averaging a whopping 61.5 points to lead the nation. But behind a tough defense, the Buffs (3-2, 1-0) earned their first big win under Hawkins, who went 2-10 in his inaugural season last year.
The Buffaloes trailed, 24-7, after Allen Patrick scored from 17 yards following safety D.J. Wolfe's second interception. His first one led to Juaquin Iglesias's 13-yard TD catch in the first half.
But Oklahoma, which had scored 50-plus points in each of its first four games, was stifled after that, and Colorado outgained the Sooners, 219 yards to 56, in the second half.
"It was just everybody doing their job and doing the right thing when they had to do it," said linebacker Jordon Dizon, the nation's leading tackler.
Colorado began its comeback with Eberhart's 41-yarder to make it 24-10 in the third quarter. After Ryan Walters picked off Sam Bradford, Cody Hawkins hit Tyson DeVree for the score on fourth and goal from the 4, pulling Colorado to 24-17 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Sooners gave the Buffaloes a huge assist in their comeback when Reggie Smith muffed a fair catch and Colorado's Justin Drescher recovered at the Oklahoma 16. Four plays later, Colorado tied it on Hawkins's 15-yard touchdown strike to Dusty Sprague with 4:05 remaining.
The Buffaloes forced another punt and Chase McBride's 33-yard return set up Colorado at midfield. Hawkins drove to the 27, where Eberhart made the winning kick to give Colorado its biggest upset in years.
Next week's Texas-Oklahoma matchup lost a lot of its luster with the Sooners' loss and Kansas State's equally stunning rout of the seventh-ranked Longhorns in Austin yesterday.
"We have to bounce back from the loss like good teams do, like great teams do," Iglesias said. "We think we're a great team."