Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State: 10 Things We Learned from 2013 Bedlam Series
One of the most storied rivalry games in college football gave us yet another thrilling edition on Saturday, with Oklahoma pulling out a 33-24 win over host Oklahoma State on Saturday.
The game, played in below-freezing temperatures, prevented Oklahoma State (10-2, 7-2) from winning the Big 12 Conference and earning its second trip to the Fiesta Bowl in the past three seasons. For Oklahoma (10-2, 7-2), it marked the school's fourth straight 10-win season and the 12th time under Bob Stoops.
So much happened in this game, it could take a novel to chronicle it all. But click through the slideshow to read about some of the most important things we learned from the 2013 edition of the Bedlam Series.
This Rivalry Has a Very Appropriate Name
On the 25th anniversary of one of the wildest Bedlam games ever—with Mike Gundy's game-winning touchdown pass dropped in the end zone—it was only fitting we'd get yet another crazy finish.
The craziness of the final quarter-plus of Oklahoma's 33-24 win over Oklahoma State was exacerbated by what had been, prior to that, one of the more boring and inefficient games in the series.
But then the Sooners pulled off a fake field goal for a touchdown, OSU's passing game suddenly came alive in the fourth quarter and then Blake Bell emerged from a sea of criticism to execute a game-winning driving for Oklahoma in the final 1:41 of play.
Special Teams Are Called That for a Reason
Until Blake Bell's seven-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Saunders with 19 seconds left, Oklahoma hadn't scored a point on offense.
The Sooners' first touchdown came on a 64-yard punt return by Jalen Saunders, and the second came when kicker Michael Hunnicutt caught a pass from holder Grant Bothun on a fake field goal. Hunnicutt also had two field goals, making him appear to be the star of the game until Bell came alive in the fourth quarter.
Both teams' punters were also superb in a game that had many offensively challenged moments. Jed Barnett had two kicks downed by his blockers at the OSU 1-yard line, while OSU's Kip Smith also had a kick land at the 1.
Oklahoma State Struggles Without Strong Quarterback Play
It took a while for Clint Chelf to emerge as Oklahoma State's best quarterback option, but once he did it coincided with the Cowboys making a huge push late in the season to win the Big 12.
But Chelf was not his usual self against Oklahoma, and that cost OSU.
The 6'1" senior was 19-of-35 for 200 yards and one touchdown and one interception, but those numbers include a 4-of-4, 84-yard effort on OSU's late go-ahead drive. Other than that, Chelf either couldn't hit his target or had receivers drop the ball.
Issues with the passing game led to Oklahoma State's other loss, back in September to West Virginia, and it's a big reason the Cowboys aren't going to the Fiesta Bowl.
Jalen Saunders Is a Multifaceted Weapon
Saunders finished with 157 all-purpose yards, which isn't that huge of a number. But it seemed like every time he touched the ball for Oklahoma, something electric happened.
Saunders returned a punt 64 yards for a touchdown in the first half, marking the second year in a row he brought back a punt for a score in Bedlam.
The senior caught the game-winning touchdown pass from Bell and also had a key reception to keep the drive alive a few plays earlier.
And Saunders also had two rushes, both of which resulted in first downs. One of them was on a 4th-and-2 play when he came in motion, stepped back and looked a modified option pitch for a 12-yard gain.
Desmond Roland Was Strong, and Underused
With Oklahoma State's passing game struggling early, Gundy smartly went with the run game and had Desmond Roland churning out big yards.
Roland had 110 yards by halftime, and he finished with 144 yards and two touchdowns.
But there were plenty of drives—usually of the three-and-out variety—where Roland seemed like a forgotten player. He finished with only 21 carries, while Chelf threw it 35 times.
That's a big reason why OSU punted seven times and was 2-of-13 on third down: It didn't go to Roland enough.
Blake Bell Can Be Effective
When Trevor Knight headed into the locker room early for halftime, it got people wondering what would happen if the Oklahoma QB couldn't go in the second half.
When it was announced Knight was done for the game with an apparent shoulder injury, Bob Stoops said he'd split time with Kendal Thompson and Bell.
But it wasn't until Stoops decided to stick with Bell—a decision aided by Thompson going 2-of-9 for 17 yards, with an interception on his first throw—that Oklahoma's offense finally started to produce.
Bell, who had started eight games this season but came into Bedlam as the No. 3 quarterback for the Sooners, completed 10 of 16 passes for 140 yards and the game-winning TD, a seven-yard strike to Saunders on a sweet corner route with 19 seconds left.
On that final drive, he was 5-of-8 for 57 yards, avoiding a sack to hit Saunders for a key pass at one point and also getting gifted by a dropped interception.
Mike Gundy Must Hate Bedlam
Gundy is 77-37 in his nine seasons as Oklahoma State head coach, and he's still regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in school history.
But Gundy has just had no luck when it's come to facing Oklahoma.
Saturday's 33-24 loss to the Sooners made him 1-12 all time in the Bedlam Series, including 0-4 as a player from 1986 to 1989. His history in the rivalry game has been rife with despair, including last year's overtime loss and the 1988 game that saw Gundy rally the Cowboys down the field late but have them come up short when his throw into the end zone was dropped.
He just can't catch a break when it comes to facing Oklahoma.
Bob Stoops Will Try Anything to Win
You don't get to be the winningest coach in Oklahoma history by doing everything by the book, or just by simply having the best players all the time. Sometimes, creativity is necessary.
While Stoops' choice to go with Thompson ahead of Bell (after Knight was injured) seemed weird, most of his other decisions were spot on in a game full of adversity.
Oklahoma was missing several starters off it offensive line, which meant the Sooners weren't going to be able to use a dropback passing approach or just try to run straight ahead. Instead, Stoops dialed up double reverses, zone reads, option pitches, whatever it took to warm up the offense on a freezing afternoon.
And then there was the clincher of the great-call resume: the fake field goal late in the third quarter, trailing 17-10. Knowing receiver Grant Bothun had the ability to throw, if needed, and that kicker Michael Hunnicutt played receiver in high school, Stoops dialed up a play that OSU had no idea was coming.
The Big 12 Didn't Have Its Best Officiating Crew Working the Game
It's the general consensus among college football fans and experts that the Pac-12 Conference has the worst officiating in the country.
But the crew working this game might need to get consideration for the worst collective unit.
Several questionable calls occurred during the game, with flags getting thrown (or not thrown) at strange times. There was even the picked up flag that resulted from a linesman tripping over an Oklahoma player—who was not in the field of play, or on the white part of the sideline—as the official tried to track a long passing play.
And that's not even counting some of the decisions made by replay officials. At least twice a review was called for on Oklahoma receptions that were called just short of the first down on both occasions. While TV replays made it seem that at least one, if not both, should have resulted in a first down, both were upheld as correct.
Even more puzzling: On Oklahoma's fantastic fake field goal TD, it took the replay booth a good three minutes to see what was clearly evident—that Hunnicutt crossed the goal line before losing the ball.
Frigid Temperatures Can't Cool This Heated Rivalry
The temperature in Stillwater at kickoff was 20 degrees, making Saturday's game the coldest ever in the 110-year history of the Bedlam Series.
But that didn't stop the fans from coming out, as roughly 55,000 people huddled together in Boone Pickens Stadium for this one.
With a national broadcast and the ability to watch the game indoors, and under many blankets, the fans still flocked to the game. Many were likely there in hopes of OSU parlaying a win into a trip to the balmier climate of Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl.