As an Oklahoma fan, the build-up to this year’s Bedlam game felt kinda weird.
Rarely in the last 15 years have the Sooners found themselves playing for nothing more than pride in their final game of the regular season. Yet, with no hope of winning another Big 12 title, Bob Stoops and his players instead spent the week bristling at questions about playing spoiler to Oklahoma State’s chance at a crown.
The Sooners may have balked at the underdog label, but their play suggested they knew the Pokes had them outgunned. OU pulled out all the stops and, in some cases, reached way down the depth chart in an effort to manufacture enough plays to get the 33-24 upset.
In a season in which the Sooners have looked nothing like their most recent predecessors, it seemed fitting that they would win in such bizarre fashion. Redshirt freshman quarterback Trevor Knight had provided a spark in the last couple weeks for an often moribund offense, but he went down in the first half. It led to a confusing rotation behind center in the second half before between sparingly used sophomore Kendal Thompson and beleaguered junior Blake Bell. In addition to three field goals, the Sooners’ 33 points came from touchdowns on a punt return, a fake field toss to their kicker, a fumble recovery and Bell’s game-winning throw to do-it-all wideout Jalen Saunders in the corner of the end zone with 19 seconds left to go.
Frankly, OU shouldn’t have won this game. Boone Pickens’ debriefing with OSU coach Mike Gundy will be pretty ugly. After the Cowboys took control of the game early in the second half, the Pokes played tight the rest of the way while ignoring their punishing ground game.
Even so, Stoops and his staff did arguably their best coaching job of the year in this game, and that’s a year in which OU’s staff has, for the most part, coached their asses off. Bottom line: the Sooners scored an entertaining win on the road against a pretty solid in-state rival.
There was no conference championship trophy waiting for OU when all was said and done Saturday, but that doesn’t make the Sooners’ 10th win of a trying year any less satisfying.