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Bittersweet Win: Millard's Injury Overshadows Exciting Oklahoma Victory

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

Coming into Saturday's game, there was doubt surrounding both the Oklahoma Sooners and the validity of Texas Tech's unblemished record. A 75-minute weather delay only enhanced the idea the game was going to be a sluggish affair.

What resulted was the most fun game in the Big 12 to date, and one of the wildest games in the country this season. The Sooners came out on top of all the wackiness, dropping Tech from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 38-30 win.

It was a big win for the Sooners, still smarting from a loss to Texas and an unimpressive win on the road against Kansas last week. Oklahoma now goes into the bye week on a high note before traveling to take on Baylor on Nov. 7.

The bye week comes at a good time for the Sooners. Even though there was plenty of excitement surrounding the win, there was also disappointment. Fullback Trey Millard tore his ACL and another ligament in his left knee on a fourth quarter kickoff and is out for the season. It's a huge loss for the Sooners, who were able to find some consistent offense in the second half for the first time since the Notre Dame game.

After a relatively dull and modest first half, Red Raiders' coach Kliff Kingsbury opened up the playbook for Texas Tech and the Oklahoma offense discovered an identity of their own, pounding the Red Raiders on the ground to the tune of 277 yards.

The Sooners opened the second half with a dominating 86-yard touchdown drive, capped by a three-yard Damien Williams touchdown run. Williams carried most of the load on the drive, rushing for 72 yards on seven carries. He finished the game as the Sooners' leading rusher with 97 yards on 19 carries.

Down 21-7, the Red Raiders marched right down the field and scored. After forcing an OU punt, the Red Raiders ran their punt return man away from the punt, drawing the entire coverage team away from a second Tech player, who scooped up the ball and returned it.

The drive resulted in a Tech field goal, but on the ensuing kickoff, Kingsbury called for an onside kick, which the Red Raiders recovered. Texas Tech would score on the drive to go up, 24-21.

The Sooners responded, led by Blake Bell, who looked much more comfortable against the Red Raiders. Bell finished the game 14-of-22 for 249 yards and two scores, both to Jalen Saunders. Saunders did all of his damage in the first half, grabbing six passes for 153 yards and two scores, including a 76-yard bomb from Bell that put the Sooners up 14-7 at the half.

The Sooners ran the same reverse pass to Lacoltan Bester they ran last week against Kansas, only this week, Bester opted not to throw and weaved his way through the Texas Tech defense for a 35-yard touchdown run.

The Oklahoma defense made the big play on the next Texas Tech drive, as Gabe Lynn picked off a deflected pass to stop the Red Raiders' progress. Tech quarterback Davis Webb was solid, hitting 33-of-53 passes for 385 yards and two scores. However, he also threw two interceptions and was constantly harassed by the OU pass rush, taking several big hits throughout the night.

Webb consistently looked to his favorite targets and they responded. Jace Amaro finished with eight catches for 119 yards while Eric Ward grabbed nine passes for 106 yards and two scores. Jakeem Grant also had eight catches for 99 yards and a score.

The Sooners used the next running back up—Roy Finch—to pound the ball down the field once again. On the 58-yard drive, Finch carried for 40 yards and Bell hit Millard with a 14-yard swing pass. Williams accounted for the other four yards, the final three on his second scoring run of the night, which put the Sooners up 35-24 with 11:04 remaining.

After a Texas Tech touchdown and failed two-point conversion, the Sooners ran 5:56 off the clock before Michael Hunnicutt extended the lead to 38-30 with a 37-yard field goal. The Red Raiders got the ball back with 1:17 remaining, but a first down sack by Chuka Ndulue resulted in a 13-yard loss and the Sooners were able to force a turnover on downs to clinch the victory.

The Sooners have a lot to work on in the bye week before taking on a Baylor team that has been eviscerating opponents all season with its high-powered offense. It's discouraging for the Sooners to lose such a vital piece such as Millard, especially since he's so valuable and because the Sooners experienced so much success on the ground against the Red Raiders.

A fun game with so many encouraging signs still found a way to turn sour for Oklahoma.

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