Winners and Losers from the Week 13 Game Against OSU
The Bedlam Series turned in another thrilling edition Saturday when Oklahoma outlasted Oklahoma State 51-48 in overtime. The contest featured the first overtime in the history of the rivalry, and the two teams put on a high-powered offensive shootout, something Big 12 fans have grown accustomed to this season.
Once again, credit Landry Jones and the Sooner offense for putting on a clinic. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the OU defense, which yielded 48 points and almost 500 yards of offense.
After another thrilling Bedlam Game, let's take a look at the winners and losers from Oklahoma's dramatic win.
Winner: Landry Jones
Once again, Landry Jones was on fire. He followed up his career day against West Virginia by throwing for 500 yards and three touchdowns against the Cowboys. He has played his best football lately, and his poise and steady leadership have made the difference for the Sooners in two thrilling victories.
Jones benefited from solid protection and a suspect OSU pass defense. Without a doubt, he exploited the Pokes' weaknesses in the secondary. Jones completed an astonishing 46 passes on 71 attempts and connected with six different receivers; three of his targets finished with more than 100 yards on the day.
If you still aren’t sold on how sharp Jones has been as of late, consider this: In the past four games, he has thrown for 1,736 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The senior gunslinger has put the Sooners in good position to earn a BCS berth, and OU’s nail-biting victories preserve their chance of winning the Big 12.
He has had plenty of impressive performances and also some frustrating showings in his Sooner career, but when Jones is on, he is as impressive as any quarterback in the nation.
Winner: Jalen Saunders
Jalen Saunders is stealing the show in his debut season for the Sooners. All he did against OSU was snag 10 passes for 162 yards and a touchdown. If that’s not enough, he also weaved his way down the sideline for an 81-yard punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter.
His performance was integral in the Sooners’ victory, but his performance can’t be lauded without giving praise to the wide receivers in general. Justin Brown and Kenny Stills also finished with more than 100 yards, and together, the trio logged 34 catches for 411 yards and two touchdowns.
Saunders and Brown, particularly, are two of the newly minted Sooners who are dazzling week in and week out. They are making life easier for star Kenny Stills and showing just how talented the OU wide-receiving corps is. With Landry Jones playing extraordinarily and the wideouts making impressive catches galore, the Sooner offense has been a thing of beauty recently.
Winner: Michael Hunnicutt
Michael Hunnicutt is rehabilitating Sooner fans from the days of suspect special teams, when you could never be sure if the play would turn out right.
The sophomore has been consistent and important for Oklahoma this season, especially in close games. Against Oklahoma State, Hunnicutt nailed three field goals. His final one was good from 45 yards and was pivotal in keeping the Sooners within striking distance of the high-octane Cowboys.
It’s easy to take kickers for granted, especially when they are overshadowed by high-powered offenses. But OU’s level of success would not be possible without a reliable player like Hunnicutt. He has made 14 of 17 kicks this season and 35 of 41 in his career, and his ability to convert gives the Sooners a valuable option to capitalize on drives when the offense stalls near the end zone.
Winner: Blake Bell
The Sooners have one of the most effective red-zone offenses in the nation, and Blake Bell deserves much of the credit. He has proven to be almost impossible to stop near the goal line and has tallied 11 rushing touchdowns this season.
Although he only carried the rock three times for eight yards against OSU, his touchdown on 4th-and-1 with four seconds left in regulation was one of the plays of the game.
After taking the snap, Bell ran to his left, and he found very little room to maneuver. Cowboy defenders surrounded him, and it looked like he would be stuffed, eliminating OU's chance to win. But Bell, as he has done so many times this season, showed patience and calmness, rumbling his 6'6", 254-lb. frame into the end zone to tie the game and force overtime.
The "Belldozer" has been one of the keys to the Sooners' success this season. He serves as an incredibly reliable and devastating weapon when OU gets near the end zone. He also has ameliorated Oklahoma's struggles to convert near the goal line in recent seasons.
Loser: Rush Defense
OU's defense was in dire need of respite after being mauled by Tavon Austin and West Virginia last week. Unfortunately, they faced another one of the nation's best runners in OSU tailback Joseph Randle Saturday.
And again, the Sooners' run defense struggled. The D wasn't embarrassed like it was in Morgantown, but Joseph Randle had a huge day, running for 113 yards and four touchdowns.
Quarterbacks Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh added 63 yards and a touchdown on the ground, respectively. In total, the Sooners allowed 201 rushing yards with five touchdowns.
Although none of the touchdowns were longer than seven yards, the Sooners have the athletes and strength to clamp down on the run and should not have enabled the Cowboys to have this level of success. Reviewing the footage of Notre Dame's goal-line stand against USC Saturday night would provide inspiration.
But at least the Sooners rush defense was capable of stopping the OSU attack, something that cannot be said for the track meet in Morgantown last week.