Bradford's injury dooms Oklahoma's upset hopes

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

DALLAS -- Sam Bradford had wanted to play again in the favorite stadium of his youth, a place where he spent many idyllic fall afternoons with his father watching many previous Red River Rivalries.

But Bradford's return to the Cotton Bowl turned into a nightmare Saturday when he re-injured his right shoulder early in Texas’ 16-13 victory over Oklahoma.

It was an injury on the same shoulder that caused him to miss three games earlier this season with a sprained joint.

“It was the same shoulder as the one against BYU,” Bradford said. “And it felt pretty much like it did against BYU.”

Saturday’s game turned for the Sooners on the first play of their second possession when blitzing Texas cornerback Aaron Williams smashed into Bradford with a clean hit.

Bradford had not looked particularly sharp in his first drive, completing only two of six passes. But his confidence influenced how the Sooners played on the drive. And his 64-yard swing pass to DeMarco Murray -- the longest play of the game for either team -- was a result of the swagger the Oklahoma offense had when he was playing.

With leading receiver Ryan Broyles back and Bradford in control, it was the best offensive team the Sooners could play since before Bradford’s injury.

But an unexpected blitz from Bradford’s blind side changed all that.

It was a defense that Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said he hasn’t called all season. With the idea that most teams would roll their protection packages for Sergio Kindle, he sent Williams from the left side where he had a clear shot at Bradford.

“Nobody had seen that before,” Texas safety Earl Thomas said. “I don’t know if they were ready for it.”

The result was a clean hit on Bradford that left him writhing in pain for nearly a minute on the field.

And while Oklahoma backup quarterback Landry Jones directed a scoring drive on the next possession, the loss of the Heisman Trophy winner had an effect on the Sooners’ offense during the rest of the game. Oklahoma produced 77 yards on that drive but then amassed only 234 yards on 63 other snaps during the rest of the game -- an average of 3.7 yard per play.

Bradford’s condition isn’t known. He’ll be checked by team doctors on Sunday to see if he will be available during the rest of the season.

Bradford was wearing a t-shirt and his football pants for the second half after being unable to throw farther than 15 yards when he tried after the injury. It was obvious that he was disappointed he couldn’t help a Sooner team that has now lost three games by a combined five points. All of the losses have been to ranked teams.

“It’s extremely frustrating to me to miss three games and then this one,” Bradford said. “It’s hard to put into frustration I feel right now.”

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said he had no second thoughts about playing Bradford, considering he had tried 49 attempts against Baylor last week and had withstood pain without much problem.

“I know people will talk about it,” Stoops said. “But Sam had a great week of practice. I saw him throw the prettiest 60-yard pass to finish our warm up as I’ve ever seen him throw. We were going with good information from our doctors and he understood the whole situation.”

Bradford said after the game he’s not sure whether he will ever return to the Cotton Bowl to play in another Texas-Oklahoma game.

A bigger question may be if he’ll ever again play for the Sooners. He passed on a chance for the NFL draft for a chance at the national title after the Sooners’ loss to Florida in the BCS title game.

“Sam is a bright young guy,” Stoops said. “He knows what he wants and it’s unfortunate it just hasn’t worked out for him very well.”