STILLWATER — Chuka Ndulue took his helmet off and ran alongside Eric Striker to celebrate the final exclamation point on a wild Bedlam Saturday.
“It was just amazing,” Ndulue said. “Watching the crowd that was going loud just silent.
Oklahoma silenced the Oklahoma State fans and plenty of critics with a 33-24 win.
Striker's final-play fumble return for a touchdown capped an up-and-down day for a defense that entered the season with plenty of doubters and entered the game battered and bruised.
Though far from perfect, the Sooners bottled up OSU's running game after halftime, forced two second-half turnovers and made several critical plays to deny their rivals a Fiesta Bowl berth.
After the embarrassing end to last season, Sooners defensive coordinator Mike Stoops retooled the defense into a 3-4 designed to take advantage of personnel and slow down offenses like the Cowboys'.
“It's validating,” Stoops said. “To come up here and do what we did today, it's just a great way to end the regular season.”
The Sooners' halftime adjustments paid off. OSU rushed for 158 in the first half, 42 after the break.
“Our linebacker was scraping too wide and leaving an inside hole,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. “Once he realized where he needed to fit, we were better defending it for the most part. That was a big adjustment.”