STILLWATER â€” With the game, and the season, and maybe a rivalry's course, all on the line, here's what Bob Stoops did.
He let his offensive coordinator call a pass for a quarterback who had been throwing the ball to the wrong color much of the night. And not just any pass. But a deep pass to a receiver who had been benched much of the season.
Then Stoops did it all over again, except this time to a tight end whose most notable play was a dropped touchdown.
You can list all the fake punts and fake field goals you want. The old Riverboat Bob never was as brazen as he was Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium.
Oklahoma won this every-sense-of-the-word Bedlam 47-41, a wild affair that sends the Sooners to just exactly where two months ago we all thought they'd be, the Big 12 title game against Nebraska, but where not too many of us thought they'd be after a rocky road through the conference.
And Stoops won this because he did what not every coach can bring himself to do: believe in players who hadn't always given him reason to believe.
In the final 3 1/2 minutes of the game, Landry Jones threw touchdown passes of 86 yards to Cameron Kenney and 76 yards to James Hanna, both with the Sooners clinging to two-point leads.
Jones had thrown three interceptions to keep the Cowboys in the game. Kenney had been replaced in the lineup earlier this season and had just five catches since September. Hanna dropped that beautiful fake-field goal pass that might have cost OU the Texas A&M game.
Yet there they were Saturday night, delivering victory to the Sooners and keeping OU in control of this series for the eighth straight year and Stoops in line for his seventh Big 12 title in the 2000s.
â€œI was so pleased at how ... we made big plays in the fourth quarter when we had to have them,â€ Stoops said.
Remember when OU had a fourth-quarter problem? And a road-game problem? The Sooners scattered both Saturday night. They entered the fourth quarter tied at 24, yet beat the ninth-ranked Cowboys in front of a frenzied crowd delirious for State victory.
Even better than that, Jones grew up. Not a bad night, a monumental victory and a quarterback who should now have removed all doubts about his gamesmanship.
â€œA few tough spots, but we loved his resilience,â€ Stoops said of Jones, who completed 37 of 62 passes for 468 yards, which matches Sam Bradford's school record for yards.
Stoops even got a little giddy, for him, trotting out phrases like â€œJoe Montanaâ€ and â€œspecial quarterback.â€
â€œIt says a lot about a guy's resilience,â€ Stoops said. â€œHis character. You watch some of the great quarterbacks, they'll have a bad game, then they have a great fourth quarter that wins the game.â€
Maybe this verdict elevates Jones in the minds of his constituency, who have not been sold on a guy with good numbers but few big wins.
No one could see either big throwing coming. Especially not after a Jones deep ball was almost intercepted with OU nursing a 33-31 lead and the clock under 3:20.
Run the ball, everyone thought, even if tailbacks DeMarco Murray and Roy Finch were banged up and the Sooners had gone to fumble-prone Mossis Madu (another sign of Stoops' belief).
Instead, Kevin Wilson went back to Jones, who on 3rd-and-12 from the OU 14-yard line hit Kenney in stride on a deep slant. Kenney motored to an improbable 86-yard touchdown.
â€œCameron did an excellent job of just crossing the middle and outrunning everybody,â€ Stoops said. â€œAnd Landry put the ball right on him, otherwise that's not a touchdown.
The fireworks had just started. OSU's Justin Gilbert returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown, requiring another Jones stunner.
On 2nd-and-6 from the OU 24, and the Cowboys down to one timeout, the Sooners again went with a power formation. Jones faked a handoff and hit Hanna behind the OSU secondary. The big tight end rambled 76 yards for a touchdown that capped this Saturday night special.
â€œThey were expecting us to run and try to eat up clock,â€ Stoops said. â€œInstead of blocking down and running it, these guys pop out, and James has great speed to get past people.â€
So the Sooners won more than the Cowboys lost, and OU did it with guys that only the coaches could have trusted.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.