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Oklahoma football: Who outside of San Diego knew Brennan Clay could run that fast?

COMMENTARY — OU's dominant first-half defense and Brennan Clay's big run were enough to allow the Sooners to survive TCU and stay unbeaten.
by Berry Tramel Published: October 5, 2013

NORMAN — With 7:27 left in the game, TCU began a possession with 113 total yards and a chance to win the game Saturday night.

Has Big 12 football gone kooky or what?

The Sooner defense had put a beatdown on a foe unlike anything seen since that Bedlam game back in 1993, when the Cowboys had one first down all game long and Pat Jones was just trying to get out of town alive.

At halftime, TCU had no first downs, just 16 total yards and a 13-0 deficit that seemed as insurmountable as 63-0. But that deficit was trimmed to just three midway through the fourth quarter, and trepidation lorded over Owen Field.

“When you're down to a one possession game and you've got a quarterback like that (scrambling Trevone Boykin), it's scary,” said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “Then they're just one play away from tying it or winning.”

Not even a TCU punt four plays later improved the mood much. That duty was left for Brennan Clay.

With one play, the senior tailback sprang to life an offense that had slumbered throughout the second half. Clay took a handoff from Blake Bell, cut back almost immediately and within three yards of the line of scrimmage found himself in the clear.

No one this side of San Diego knew Clay could run that fast, but blaze he did, to a 76-yard touchdown run that gave the Sooners the 10-point lead they needed in an eventual 20-17 victory.

Welcome to 2013. Gone are the 50-point shootouts that defined the Sooners a year ago. In their stead are tight games won with a play or two in the fourth quarter: 16-7 over West Virginia, 20-17 over TCU, they all count the same.

They won't get the Sooners a lot of love in the polls. But they do have OU atop the Big 12 standings going into Texas Week.

“Championship teams finish games as a complete team,” said OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. “Offensively, the last couple of weeks, we've been able to eat up the clock and not put our defense on the field in critical situations.”

A week ago at Notre Dame, the Sooners prevailed 35-21 with a dominant fourth quarter of ball control. That, too, was led by Clay, not exactly a workhorse throughout his career but who suddenly is becoming a prime timer.

“If they put the ball in your hands, they trust you,” Clay said.

The Sooner running game had been so-so to that point. But on second-and-4 from the OU 24-yard line, Bell checked to a different play, which gave Clay the option of taking the handoff and finding his own hole. Which he did.

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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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