STILLWATER — Some championships are built with fabulous players and glorious plays. Not this one. Not the Big 12 South Division banner that suddenly, remarkably, flies proudly in Soonerville. Not the hill scaled by the first-place Oklahoma Sooners, who Saturday won Bedlam not with grandeur, but with grinding. Who beat Oklahoma State 27-21 not with flare, but with fight. Nothing particularly pretty about winning a game in which you total in the fourth quarter one yard of offense and no first downs. Not pretty, but pretty special. A football team that seven weeks ago seemed destined for OU's second straight mediocre season instead has clawed its way to the Big 12 championship, where ancient foe Nebraska awaits on Kansas City's neutral ground. Call it old school Oklahoma. These Sooners run the ball and don't give in on defense, even when mere inches from their goal line, and long ago and far away that exact recipe was the tonic for conference supremacy when scrumming the Cornhuskers on a frozen piece of prairie. "Hasn't always been pretty," said OU defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "But our guys have fought as much as any since we've been here. As a coach, nothing makes you happier than seeing your guys fight." Reprieved by Texas A&M's upset of Texas on Friday, OU cashed in the blessing by riding its secret stars: blockers who open lanes for a bevy of backup tailbacks and a defense that has grown sharp fangs since September. True fact: Oklahoma State had more offensive playmakers Saturday. Flankers D'Juan Woods and Adarius Bowman. Tight end Brandon Pettigrew. Rotating quarterbacks Bobby Reid and Zac Robinson. All were bigger threats with the football than their Sooner counterparts. But OU won because it lined up and said here we come. "We're just trying to do our job," said senior tackle Chris Messner, the lone upperclassman among the Sooner blockers. "Early in the year, everybody doubted us. We tried to prove everybody wrong." Most of the time, when someone starts talking about being disrespected, wave them off as windbags. But this time, Messner was right. This OU offensive line, doubted last August, has become the face of this offense with help from fullbacks and tight ends. Tailbacks Allen Patrick and Chris Brown combined for 243 yards on 42 carries. They combined for 15 carries of at least five yards in the first three periods, before the Sooners went on safe mode and tried to burn the fourth-quarter clock. "We're going to be a smashmouth team, no matter where we play," said freshman tackle Trent Williams. "I felt really good when I see AP (Patrick) run for a 70-yard (actually 65) touchdown. That can be the best feeling I can get in a game." This must be a satisfying season for Bob Stoops. His other division champs employed star quarterbacks, using the Mike Leach offense or remnants thereof. Not these guys. They won at Texas A&M throwing 12 passes; they won Saturday throwing 11. Somewhere, Thomas Lott smiles. "I love to win games any you can," said tight end Joe Jon Finley. "But I love the way we got out there and grinded. Get seven, eight yards. We're having fun doing it. "All year, we've been doubted by everybody. People kept saying, ‘The Sooners are done.' We kept grinding it out. I never stopped believing." Grind is the operative word. Many Sooners used it in the post-game press melee, and for good reason. Nothing easy about this one. The Cowboys got down 20-7 and 27-14, yet kept coming back. The Sooners turned them away despite OSU's first-and-goal at the 2-yard line in the second half and two possessions in the final four minutes needing only a touchdown to win. "We've definitely come a long way," said OU d-end C.J. Ah-You. "We answered at the end." And now it's on to Arrowhead Stadium, where figure it for frigid and the Huskers for venom. Sounds like old times. Sounds like the old-school Sooners will be ready.
NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.