The Norman Transcript

November 25, 2012

Sooners’ best efforts saved for last in Bedlam

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — It was a fitting way for an unpredictable game to end: the No. 2 running back for the team that struggled to run the ball darted 18 yards right up the middle for a game-winning touchdown.

Brennan Clay’s run on Oklahoma’s only overtime possession was the only play that didn’t have an equal Oklahoma State reaction on Saturday. It was the difference in the 14th-ranked Sooners’ 51-48 overtime victory at Owen Field.

Clay’s eyes relayed what an insane afternoon it was when told OU never led until he crossed the goal line.

“I did not realize that.” he said. “That’s crazy.”

It seemed to fit right in. The list of abnormalities was lengthy.

· Clay’s run was the deciding factor even though OU quarterback Landry Jones threw for 500 yards, three touchdowns, but only completed 64.8 percent (46-for-71) of his passes.

· The Sooners (9-2, 7-1 Big 12) erased double-digit deficits in both halves.

· OU never led until the final play despite piling up 618 yards and a school record 44 first downs — the second most in NCAA history — on 106 plays.

· The Cowboys (7-4, 5-3) never trailed until the final play in overtime despite only forcing two punts.

“Initially, the only thing it reminded me of was our Big 12 championship game with Nebraska (in 2010),” OU coach Bob Stoops said recalling OU’s victory two years ago in Cowboy Stadium that included a rally from an early 17-0 deficit. “For some reason, we had a certain calm about it.”

There was a lot to panic about early in the game. The Sooners fell behind 14-0 after a little less than nine minutes. There was a strong sense OU was on the verge of getting blown out of their own stadium.

Once again, OU’s run defense was carved up. OSU running back Joseph Randle rushed for four touchdowns and quarterback Clint Chelf rushed for 63 yards. Chelf tossed in another 253 yards through the air.

About the only thing OU did right was keep the Cowboys out of the end zone for the final 10:41 of regulation and their lone overtime possession.

“We know how to play in these types of games,” said OU cornerback Aaron Colvin, who had two sacks and an interception. “The more experience you have, the more comfortable you get with it. We’ve been in this a few times.”

The key was not getting caught up in the emotional swings. The Sooners didn’t. They forced OSU to punt with 6:14 left and trailing 45-38. It was the game’s pivotal stop.

The Cowboys never got another one. Jones engineered most of the 17-play, 86-yard drive to tie the game. He wasn’t on the field for the play that sent it to overtime.

Blake Bell broke through three tackles for a 4-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 play with 4 seconds left.

The Sooners won the overtime toss and elected to play defense. They limited the Cowboys to a 26-yard Clint Sharp field goal.

“That’s what we wanted,” OU safety Tony Jefferson said. “Our defense came and stepped up when we needed it to. I let them know that it was all on us now. This is the type of game you live for. I’m just proud in how that defense overcame the adversity.”

Two plays later, the Sooner sideline was celebrating one of the wildest victories in Owen Field history and “Jump Around” was blaring throughout the stadium. Players ran around the field and joined fans in the celebration.

The victory allowed OU to stay in the race for the Big 12 title with idle Kansas State. Its shot at receiving an at-large berth in a BCS bowl game remained intact. It still has one more regular-season game to go. They face TCU (7-4, 4-4) next Saturday in Fort Worth, Texas.

However, Saturday’s victory allowed the senior class, which includes Jones, to celebrate a final victory at home.

“I think it was because it’s my last one, it’s my last time to play in here, in this stadium in front of our fans and it always feels good to go out that way,” Jones said. “It always feels great to go out on a win.”

John ShinnFollow me @john_shinnjshinn@normantranscript.com

 

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.