STILLWATER – The Sooners played their most complete game since the West Virginia game last night in Stillwater, pounding the Aggy into a fine paste in the second half in a 34-16 win that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. The Sooner defense held OSU to their fewest points in the series since shutting them out entirely in 2009.
Parnell Motley was the defensive star, with a fumble recovery and an interception, and another interception that was inexplicably reversed on replay review. The Sooner defense dominated, allowing only one TD on the night, only three points in the second half, and no second half conversions of any kind – third down or fourth down.
Kennedy Brooks was the workhorse on the night with 22 carries for 160 yards and a TD. Jalen Hurts carried for 61 yards and a score on 16 carries, while Rhamondre Stevenson had 50 yards on only three carries late in the game.
Hurts was efficient, if not prolific, going 13-16 for 163 yards and a TD. Nick Basquine had one pass – to Hurts – for four yards and a score on a gadget play. CeeDee Lamb led Sooner receivers with four catches for 36 yards, while Basquine added two for 32. Jeremiah Hall had two for 30, Charleston Rambo had two for 10, Lee Morris had a catch for 29, Stevenson had one for 23, and Hurts and Brayden Willis had one each, both for scores.
OSU won the toss and deferred. The Sooners took over on their own 22 and moved swiftly to the lead. Brooks ran for nine yards on the first play of the game, then Hurts hit Basquine for 23. Brooks ran for 18 more and a first down at the OSU 28. Hurts took it in from there on a scramble that was wide open, and the Sooners led 7-0 with 13:14 to play in the first quarter.
OSU answered with an eight-play, 76-yard TD drive sparked by a 22-yard run from Chuba Hubbard and a 33-yard pass to Brayden Johnson. Hubbard’s three-yard TD run made it 7-7 with 9:02 to play in the first quarter. One would have thought that we were in store for another shootout. One would have been wrong, as this would prove to be the only time OSU would cross the goal line on the night.
The Sooners retook the lead for good on the ensuing possession. A 23-yard pass from Hurts to Stevenson on third and 12 gave OU a first down at the OU 47. The Sooners plugged away on the ground before stalling at the OSU 25. Gabe Brkic remained perfect on the year with a 42-yard field goal, and OU led 10-7 with three minutes to play in the first quarter.
OSU moved to the OU 42 on the ensuing possession, but Motley forced a Johnson fumble and recovered it at the OU 41. Motley nearly broke it for a score, but got tripped up at the OU 44. From there, Brooks ran for three, then 18. Hurts then hit Morris for 29 yards and a first down at the OSU six. On second a goal from the four, on the first play of the second quarter, Lincoln Riley dialed up the double reverse pass back to the QB from the Rose Bowl a couple of years ago. Basquine hit a wide-open Hurts for the score, and the Sooners led 17-7 with 14:54 to play in the first half.
On the ensuing OSU possession, backup QB Dru Brown made a horrible throw while scrambling in an attempt to throw it away. He threw it right to Motley, who picked it off and returned it into OSU territory. A replay review ensued, and despite the complete lack of anything resembling definitive proof, Big 12 referee Reggie Smith, he of the onside kick review in Manhattan, decided that Motley was out of bounds, and the interception was reversed. OSU would move as close as the OU 26 before settling for a field goal that made the score 17-10 with 9:40 to play in the first half.
The Sooners’ ensuing drive stalled at the OSU 10, and another Brkic field goal made it 20-10 with 5:06 to play in the first half. OSU moved deep into Sooner territory on the next possession, boosted by a 42-yard pass from Brown to Dillon Stoner. However, from a first and goal at the OU 8, OSU lost a yard on a run, gained seven on a pass, had a false start, and lost a yard on another run. A field goal as time expired in the half made it 20-13 at the break.
The teams exchanged three-and-outs to start the second half. OSU got the better of the exchange, taking over on their own 42. Two plays later, they were at the OU 13, threatening to tie. The Sooners stopped them there, though, and a field goal with 9:41 to play in the third quarter made it 20-16.
The Sooners were backed up to their own seven-yard line on the ensuing possession after a penalty on the kickoff return. It wouldn’t matter. Brooks ran for 15, two, and five, before Hurts picked up a third and three with a four-yard run. After Brooks ran for six more, Hurts found Hall in wide open space for 30 yards to the OSU 31. Lamb caught a pass for eight, then Brooks ran for 12, two, and six, then took it in for the score from three yards out, and it was 27-16 with 3:22 to play in the third quarter. Unlike most other games in Stillwater, an 11-point lead felt like it would hold up in this game.
OSU moved to the OU 27 on the ensuing possession, mostly due to a pair of penalties on the Sooners. OU stopped OSU on a fourth down try from there, and OU took over. Hurts ran for two, five, and four, then on the first play of the fourth quarter OSU’s Tre Sterling was called for targeting on Rambo and was ejected from the game. The 15-yard penalty gave OU a first down at the OSU 47. Brooks ran for two, then Hurts found Lamb for three and Basquine for nine. Three plays later, Brooks ran for 17 and the Sooners had a first down at the OSU four. Two plays after that, Hurts hit a wide-open Willis for the score, and it was 34-16 with 10:21 to play and was all over but the shouting.
OSU went four and out on the ensuing possession, with Hubbard stoned on fourth and one from the OSU 34. The Sooners went backwards from there, punting from the OSU 43. OSU moved to the OU 48, but Motley picked off Brown on a fourth and 10 play from there. The Sooners would run out the clock, although they would have scored again but for a holding penalty that called back a Stevenson TD. Weirdly, the game ended with 38 seconds left after an OSU injury resulted in a 10-second runoff and referee Smith declared that since a 40-second play clock was in effect, the game was over.
Although an 11-1 Alabama would likely have been jumped in the final CFP rankings anyway, their loss to Auburn yesterday took care of any concern about that and assured us of a Bama-free Playoff for the first time. OU’s path back to the Playoff is now crystal clear. Two things must happen – OU must beat Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game on Saturday in Arlington. Then, LSU must beat Georgia in the SEC Championship Game. If those two things happen, regardless of what happens in the PAC-12 Championship Game, OU is likely to get the nod over a Utah team that has blown out a series of rumdums all season. Indeed, it would not be surprising if the Sooners jumped the Utes on Tuesday.
Even better, of course, would be for Utah to lose to Oregon Friday night, thus avoiding a beauty contest for the #4 spot. So, Go Ducks and Go Tigers, just this once. See you in JerryWorld on Saturday morning.