STILLWATER — Winning a rivalry game on the road when you're an underdog takes lots of solid play — and that's what the Sooners got. High marks all around.
JALEN SAUNDERS: A
Oklahoma State is happy to have seen the last of Saunders. A year after returning a punt for a touchdown in Bedlam, the wide receiver/return man scored two of OU's three touchdowns on Saturday. He scored on a 64-yard punt return in the first quarter that gave the Sooners life, then snagged the game-winning 7-yard touchdown catch from Blake Bell with 19 seconds left.
JED BARNETT: A
With the offense struggling early, the Sooner punter twice pinned the Cowboys at their own 1-yard line. Reversing the field like that gave the Sooner defense a chance to work and helped the Sooner offense get some favorable field position. Barnett also kept OSU's dangerous return game in check. The Cowboys had no punt return yards.
LATE-DOWN DEFENSE: A
The Cowboys converted only 2 of 13 on third down and 0 of 1 on fourth down. When the Sooner defense had a chance to get off the field, it did its job 86 percent of the time. That's amazing efficiency.
LATE-DOWN OFFENSE: B
The Sooners weren't great on third down. Actually, that's being nice. They were horrid. They went 2 of 15, which would normally get them a failing grade, but they get high marks for late-down offense because of what they did on fourth down. The Sooners converted 3 of 3 on fourth down, including an 8-yard touchdown pass on a fake field goal.
Sooner coach Bob Stoops contends that some of the plays that fans and media consider gambles aren't really that, but still, the Riverboat Gambler rolled the dice. A pass to a tight end. A double reverse. A fake field goal that resulted in a touchdown. And those were all on one drive. The Sooners took some chances Saturday, and when the coaches called them, the players made good on them.
BLAKE BELL: A
What a day. It's impossible to overstate what a great day the third-string quarterback had. He came in after starter Trevor Knight was injured and back-up Kendal Thompson was ineffective. Bell took very few snaps in practice these past few weeks, but he was masterful. He was 10 of 16 for 140 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions.
BALL CONTROL: A
Time of possession is overrated, but ball control isn't. The Sooners had the ball for 34 minutes, 20 seconds, nearly nine minutes more than the Cowboys. They put together some sustained drives that kept the OSU offense sitting on the cold sidelines and shortened the game. And the Sooners had just one interception, an ill-advised pass thrown by back-up quarterback Kendal Thompson on his first snap of the game.
SOONER SENIORS: A
On OSU's senior day, OU had some seniors who played big. Safety Gabe Lynn made two tackles on the goal-line stand after missing a tackle on a big run earlier in the drive. Running back Brennan Clay rushed for 70 tough yards on 24 carries. Cornerback Aaron Colvin played with a still-injured shoulder and helped keep a talented OSU receving corps in check.