MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bob Stoops' voice was gone, and his pride all but went with it.
But Stoops was happy. He had seen this game before, with a different ending, and this was better. Much, much better.
The Sooners beat West Virginia 50-49 Saturday night in the Allegheny Mountains, and it's not as crazy as it sounds.
It was crazier.
This was Baylor II, that wild game in Waco last November that knocked OU from national title contention and hastened a change in Stoops' defensive staff.
Except this time, the Sooners had the ball last. Which in this kind of game, made all the difference.
“Very proud of the players, their efforts,” Stoops said. “Incredibly proud of the team to hold it together.”
The Sooners won despite the worst defense in school history. But they won because Landry Jones earned his stripes.
Landry took the Sooners on two touchdown drives in the final seven minutes, with precision passing and clutch decision-making. Landry's fourth-down, five-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills – Landry's sixth TD throw of the game, Stills' fourth TD catch – with 24 seconds left was the game-winner.
Stoops was so fired up about the win, he didn't even try to defend his defense. So you know it was bad.
“I'm obviously disappointed,” Stoops said. “We haven't been in a lot of shootouts. We deserve some of the criticism for not playing as well, but again, they're a good team.”
Maybe a great offensive team. But not as great as the 2011 Baylor Bears, who stunned OU 45-38 with a Heisman Trophy-winning performance from Robert Griffin III. West Virginia's Geno Smith is a fallen Heisman contender, but his offense carved up the Sooners much more than did Griffin's.
The numbers were ugly. The school of Larry Lacewell and Gary Gibbs and Rex Ryan and, yes, Mike Stoops, on Saturday night allowed 778 total yards, obliterating the previous opponents' record of 616 set last year by Baylor.
West Virginia had four touchdown drives longer than 90 yards; six longer than 77 yards.
Scatback Tavon Austin, who hadn't played tailback all year, rushed for 344 yards. Flanker Stedman Bailey had 205 receiving yards. Surely this was the first 300-rushing, 200-receiving yard game by teammates in NCAA history.
Clearly, West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen outschemed Mike Stoops.
Austin “at the running back position, that's where it really hurt us,” Bob Stoops said. “Obviously, we weren't ready for it. It did really mess us up.”
But give Stoops credit for this. Clock management. Stoops figured out a way to keep the ball until almost the very end. Even then, with just 21 seconds at their disposal, the Mountaineers reached the OU 49-yard line, and Smith tossed a Hail Mary pass on the final play that was knocked down by free safety Javon Harris.
“They ended up making one more play than we did,” Holgorsen said.
And that one play means OU remains in Big 12 title contention. That's right. Title contention.
Kansas State's loss to Baylor turns the Big 12 back into a horse race. If the Sooners win out and get some help from their friends the Longhorns in a season finale at KSU, OU will be the Big 12 champ.
Stoops was so consumed with his game, he didn't know of K-State's demise. He was stunned. But Stoops also was pragmatic.
“I'm just trying to get to next week,” Stoops said.
In the bowels of Milan Puskar Stadium, Stoops met his uncle of the same name. The original Bob Stoops is an old Youngstown State coach who drove down to Morgantown and saw himself a whale of a game.
“Oh what a game,” Bob Stoops the Elder told his nephew. “I was praying.”
The prayer was answered, because this time, the Sooners had the ball last.
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 FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.