HEART OF ICE: Sooners Stun Oklahoma State With Late Touchdown
STILLWATER, Oklahoma - There's a reason they call it Bedlam.
On a frigid day in Stillwater, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State lived up to the rivalry's name, pulling everything out of their respective hats and putting it all on the line.
In the end, it was the Sooners pulling off the surprising upset, 33-24, crushing their rival's hopes of a Big 12 championship and BCS bowl berth.
Blake Bell, filling in at quarterback for the injured Trevor Knight, hit Jalen Saunders in the back of the end zone for a seven-yard score with 24 seconds remaining. Bell's pass capped an impressive drive for the Sooners, who went 66 yards on eight plays in 1:27 for the go-ahead score. The entire drive came through the air, vindication of sorts after Bell's ability to throw the ball had been questioned for much of the season.
Bell finished the day 10-for-16 for 140 yards and the game-winning score. He was aided on the final drive by a pass interference penalty on Oklahoma State safety Zach Craig and a dropped interception by Justin Gilbert that gave the Sooners new life on two occasions.
The most surprising part of the Sooners' win was the fact that Saunders' touchdown was the only offensive touchdown Oklahoma scored all day. Yet, despite that, the Sooners led, 20-17, with 4:16 remaining in the game.
Oklahoma State had retaken the lead with a seven-play, 89-yard drive, capped by a Desmond Roland rushing touchdown that took just 2:41 off the clock.
The Cowboys had one last chance to tie or win, but a sack by Charles Tapper on second down, followed by a fumble on the Cowboys' last gasp hook-and-ladder play—that was recovered in the end zone by Eric Striker—provided the final margin and sealed the Sooners' 10th win in the last 11 meetings between the two schools.
The first half was thoroughly dominated by the Cowboys' offense, as OSU pounded out 158 yards on the ground, 110 of those coming from Roland. Roland ripped off a 75-yard touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage, but a holding call on wide receiver Charlie Moore negated the play.
Roland finished the game with 144 yards and two touchdowns, but was mainly neglected in the second half, as OSU opted for 23 passes compared to 14 run plays after halftime. It was an iffy decision at best, seeing as the Cowboys were averaging 7.5 yards per carry in the first half.
Roland's one-yard touchdown run capped a 99-yard touchdown drive for the Cowboys with 4:00 remaining in the first quarter.
The special teams unit was the MVP for the Sooners until Bell's final drive. In the first quarter, punter Jed Barnett placed two punts at the Cowboys' 1-yard and two possessions after Roland's score, Saunders ignited the Sooners with a 64-yard punt return for a touchdown to knot the score at 7-7.
Oklahoma State looked to regain the lead, but the OU defense stood strong inside the 10-yard line, standing the Cowboys up twice from the 1-yard line to force the turnover on downs.
The team went into the locker room tied at 10, the result of an eight-minute field goal drive for the Sooners to close out the half. However, on the drive, quarterback Trevor Knight, who started the game and gained 47 yards on the ground in the first half, hurt his left, non-throwing shoulder diving out of bounds. Knight would not return.
With Knight out of the game, Kendal Thompson came in at quarterback for the Sooners. On his first play, he uncorked a deep pass for Lacoltan Bester that was intercepted by Kevin Peterson. OSU promptly drove down the field and Chelf hit a wide-open Roland for a 15-yard touchdown pass.
The rest of the quarter was marred by an abysmal offensive display from both teams. After the touchdown, the teams combined for two first downs on six possessions. On the sixth, Chelf was picked off by Julian Wilson, which turned momentum in the Sooners favor at just the right time.
Chelf was far from the player that torched Baylor two weeks ago. Against OU, Chelf was just 19-of-35 for 200 yards and a score. He was consistently behind his receivers and never found a rhythm.
The Sooners pulled things from the back pages of the playbook on the drive, running a double reverse to Saunders for 37 yards with Thompson throwing the key block. On 3rd and goal from the OSU 8-yard line, Bell—who had rotated with Thompson at quarterback throughout the quarter—escaped pressure to find Brannon Greene alone in the back of the end zone. However, OSU's Daytawion Lowe punched the ball away as Green was going to the ground, forcing a fourth down.
Instead of kicking the field goal, Stoops opted for the fake and holder Grant Bothun, a former high school quarterback hit kicker Michael Hunnicutt, a former high school wide receiver for an eight-yard score. Hunnicutt caught the ball outside the end zone and backed quickly across the plane before getting plastered by OSU defenders.
With the win, Oklahoma put itself in position to possibly claim the final BCS at-large spot. The win, combined with Northern Illinois' loss in the MAC championship game opened the door for the Sooners, who will probably have to wait and see how the Big 10 championship game between Michigan State and Ohio State goes.
The Cowboys missed a golden opportunity to win its second Big 12 championship in three years and also cost itself a Fiesta Bowl berth.
Coming into Saturday, the Sooners didn't have a lot to play for besides pride and bowl positioning. It wasn't pretty in any way, but the Sooners rose to the occasion, spoiling yet another opportunity for glory for their arch rival.