Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

November 24, 2012

Sooners, Pokes turn in Bedlam classic

NORMAN — Mike Stoops walked into the room. His defense had just allowed 48 points and 490 yards a week after allowing 49 and 778.

“I’ve never had so much fun in my life,” he said. “Oh man, what a classic.”

Which was right in line with everything else that happened in the best Bedlam game ever played, Oklahoma’s 51-48 victory Saturday at Owen Field.

Never had the series gone overtime. Never, probably, had Oklahoma State been this good in back-to-back meetings and, rest assured, the Pokes are going nowhere.

The Bedlam Series is not edging towards the Texas game on the the Sooners’ significance meter. Instead, it has flat overtaken it as the skirmish OU must win if it’s to challenge for conference and national championships.

This time around it transcended everything. All the history and the moment, too.

When Mike Stoops walked in after a rotten day at the office, smiling instead of kicking himself as he had in OU’s previous two victories, it was just one more fantastic moment from a memorable afternoon.

There was Landry Jones, on Senior Day, coming back from one of his heinous interceptions that helped put OU in the hole it only just emerged from. Throwing for 500 yards on the nose, his second straight half-a-thousand-yard performance led two end-of-half drives for touchdowns when OU absolutely had to have them.

“What more do you want from the guy,” said Bob Stoops, almost yelling in a voice hoarse all over again, worn out by a game for the ages.

Also, there was Blake Bell, with his finest singular play of his Sooner life. He’d run for 23 touchdowns since the Belldozer was unveiled, but here he was on fourth-and-1 at the 4, trying to finish off that last drive Jones led down the field, OSU linebacker Caleb Lavey approaching, “unblocked in the hole,” as offensive coordinator Josh Heupel would later say.

“You feel a guy at your feet, you hurdle him,” Bell said, forgetting to mention that Lavey’s shot at his legs came 2 yards behind the line of scrimmage with seconds remaining, the Sooners finished if Bell didn’t get the yard.

To say nothing of Jalen Saunders and Justin Brown, who seem like they’ve been at Oklahoma for about 10 days, one from Elk Grove, Calif., by way of Fresno State and the other from Wilmington, Del., by way of Penn State. What do they know about Bedlam?

Yet Saunders caught Quinn Sharp’s punt, only the second he tried to return all season, and brought it back 81 yards at fourth quarter’s dawn, the Sooners trailing 38-30. And it was Brown who found the open space in which to corral Jones’ two-point pass, retying the game for the first time since the first play of the second half, a 75-yard hook-up between Clint Chelf and Josh Stewart, because you better believe the Cowboys made their plays, too. A ton of them. So many, OU didn’t lead until the game was over.

The Sooner defenders didn’t do a whole lot, but the beauty of Saturday’s challenge demanded they be a part of it at the end, and so they were, allowing one first down in the fifth quarter, but only the one, holding the Pokes to their OT field goal and giving the offense its chance.

“It was a thriller,” said Sooner cornerback Aaron Colvin, who belied his unit’s effectiveness, turning in two sacks and an interception, all of them big. “My heart was jumping the whole time. It was just one of those games.”

One of what games?

We know what Colvin means. We know there are games that need not be broken apart, layers peeled back for dissection. They just are. And still, this was so much more.

Last home game of the season, a statewide rivalry reaching new heights, and dizzyingly great stuff from both sides of it, the home team finally getting the best of it.

Barely.

The only one of “those games” is this one, played on Bedlam’s greatest day.

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