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December 7, 2013

Sooners win Bedlam battle

Adam Troxtell
The Express-Star

STILLWATER — Any questions regarding the top team in Oklahoma were answered Saturday afternoon, as the Sooners came out on top against Oklahoma State 33-24 in Stillwater in a frenzied ending that fit the “Bedlam” description.

A 66-yard drive with a minute and a half on the clock was capped by a seven yard pass from Blake Bell – the third Sooner quarterback to play in the game after Trevor Knight started – to Jalen Saunders to put OU up 27-24 and essentially win them the game. The excitement was brought to an official end when Eric Stryker ran in a three-yard fumble return as the Cowboys scrambled through a series of laterals and backwards passes to keep a dim hope of scoring alive.

Few would blame them for the madness, since it was only two offensive series before that they marched down to take the lead. Desmond Roland, who rushed for 144 yards, capped a seven play drive with his third touchdown of the game to light the way to their second Big 12 title in three years and an automatic bid for a BCS Bowl. As quick as it opened, that door was slammed as time expired.

“I’m certainly not disappointed in them,” OSU head coach Mike Gundy said. “I’m just disappointed for them, because they’ve been a really good group for us. Unfortunately, we just came up a little big short today.”

The most crucial call of the game came with two minutes left in the third quarter. Faced with a fourth down, the Sooners lined up to reduce the lead to four with a Michael Hunnicutt field goal. Holder Grant Bothun suddenly scrambled into the corner on the fake, where he passed it to the kicker Hunnicut for an eight yard touchdown to tie the game.

“Of course, everybody was charged up,” OU head coach Bob Stoops said. “Instead of a field goal, you tie it up. It’s a big boost.”

In the gripping cold, OSU actually started off the hotter of the two teams. On their first play after receiving the opening kick, Roland found acres of space down the left side and ran into the end zone untouched for 75 yards. But the best start the Cowboys could have had was called back for a holding and the favorites ended their first series with a punt.

He picked up from that by breaking through the middle for 23 yards on a few drives later to put his team inside Sooner territory. A one-yard touchdown run by Roland opened the scoring and put OSU in control.

Special teams proved to be a big contributor for the Sooners, and it was their way back into it. Jalen Saunders provided Cowboys fans with an uncomfortable case of déjà vu, returning a punt 64 yards for a touchdown, just as he did last year, to tie things up before the first quarter ended.

Chucka Ndulue stopped Roland cold at the goal line on a brave fourth down conversion that would have seen OSU repond, and the score remained 7-7. They did take the lead with a Ben Grogan 41-yard field goal with 8:40 left in the first half. But Hunnicutt and the Sooners responded with a 21-yarder of their own to tie things up 10-10 by halftime.

Kendall Thompson stepped into the Sooner backfield when Knight went down at the end of the first half with a shoulder injury, but his first play was less than memorable. His attempt downfield to LaColtan Bester was intercepted by Kevin Peterson at the OSU 26 where the Cowboys took over.

In “anything you can do” fashion, Chelf sparked the OSU drive with a 38 yard pass down the left. He helped the Cowboys capitalize on the early turnover by finding Roland on a play action 15-yard pass in the flats for a waltz into the end zone to make the score 17-10, Cowboys.

Sooner deep back Julian Wilson provided OU a way back with an interception to give them ball at their own 40. A fake field goal and two quick, eye-catching offensive displays later, and it was OU who emerged with their foot planted at the top of the Oklahoma football pile.

Stats:

Rushing- OU, Brennan Clay: 24 carries, 70 yards; Jalen Saunders, 2 carries, 49 yards; Trevor Knight, 11 carries, 49 yards; OSU, Desmond Roland, 21 carries, 144 yards, 2 TDs; Jeremy Smith, 7 carries, 42 yards.

Passing- Blake Bell, 10-16, 140 yards, 1 TD; Kendall Thompson, 2-9, 17 yards, 1 INT; OSU, Clint Chelf, 19-35, 200 yards, 1 TD

Receiving- OU, Sterling Shepard, 7 catches, 112 yards; Jalen Saunders, 5 catches, 39 yards, 1 TD; OSU, Josh Stewart, 7 catches, 68 yards; Jhajuan Seales, 4 catches, 36 yards; Desmond Roland, 1 catch, 15 yards, 1 TD

For full Bedlam coverage, see Tuesday's edition of the Express-Star.