Blake Bell wasn't even supposed to play on Saturday.
The polarizing Oklahoma quarterback hadn't played two weeks ago against Kansas State after leaving the Iowa State game in the second quarter with a head injury.
Yet, after all the ups and downs Bell has experienced this year, there he was on the field, preparing to lead the Sooners on their final drive of the game. 1:46 remained on the clock and Bell had thrown just eight passes in the game, completing five of them for 83 yards.
Bell put together his best drive of the year and saved his best pass for the biggest moment as he led the Sooners to a go-ahead touchdown in the Sooners' 33-24 win over Oklahoma State on Saturday in Stillwater.
That Bell had an opportunity to lead OU to a win was a miracle in and of itself. The only reason Oklahoma had a chance to win was thanks to spectacular play of the Sooners' special teams, which had accounted for all 20 of OU's points on a Jalen Saunders punt return, two Michael Hunnicutt field goals and an improbable touchdown on a fake field goal.
For those who had been following the Sooners this season, it was pretty fitting that in arguably the Sooners' biggest game of the season, they would have all three quarterbacks (and the holder) throw passes. It's also fitting that barely any of them worked. But, give credit where credit is due. Bell was fantastic on the game-winning drive.
Bell was only in the game because Trevor Knight got hurt on OU's last offensive play of the first half. It was called a separated shoulder and Knight didn't return after halftime. The Sooners threw fan-favorite Kendal Thompson into the fray, but Thompson threw an interception on his first pass and the best thing he did all day was throw a key block to spring Saunders for a 37-yard gain on a double reverse.
It's been a rough year for OU quarterbacks, but at their best this season, it appears Bell was the best thrower of the bunch. That's not an endorsement for him as the starting quarterback going into the bowl game and next season. That job is Trevor Knight's unless injury otherwise dictates. That's simply an observation based on how the trio has played this season.
However, Saturday did show that Bob Stoops and Josh Heupel are comfortable with any of their three quarterbacks. Even through Thompson wasn't great, Heupel didn't have him simply turning and handing off to Brennan Clay, or throwing bubble screens to wide receivers. Thompson chucked the ball all over the field—erratically, but still—and nearly had a 62-yard touchdown bomb to Sterling Shepard, but just overthrew it.
In the end, it was Bell—who seems to enjoy making Bedlam his personal stage—who came through for the Sooners. Last season, it was Bell plowing into the end zone for the game-tying touchdown on fourth down with two seconds remaining. This year, it was Bell marching the Sooners down the field, armed with a single timeout and facing weather that should prevent 57 passing yards for a game, much less a single drive.
Bell's winning pass to Saunders in the back corner of the end zone was perfect. It's hard for a quarterback to throw a ball that well once, much less consistently.
But Bell only needed to do it once and he made that throw, perhaps putting a bit more of a positive spin on his 2013 season and once again stealing glory from the Cowboys.
If Knight is healthy, he should get the start in the Sooners' bowl game, wherever that may be. He should also be the starting quarterback going into next season. Based on that, and barring injury, Bell made have just made the last significant drive of his career.
If he did, he couldn't have picked a better way to go out.