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Gritty Sooner's next foe is a familiar one

by Berry Tramel Published: November 26, 2006
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.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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