ARLINGTON, Texas â€” Nebraska's Prince Amukamara might be the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
And Huskers Alfonzo Dennard, Eric Hagg and DeJon Gomes might be high-round NFL Draft picks.
But Saturday night in the Big 12 Championship, college football's best secondary couldn't hold down wideouts Kenny Stills and Ryan Broyles and â€œMr. Fourth Quarter,â€ Cameron Kenney, who all came up huge in Oklahoma's 23-20 victory.
â€œThey really did,â€ said Sooner coach Bob Stoops. â€œMy compliments to Nebraska's secondary. They are difficult to work the ball against and do an excellent job. But I'm proud of the guys we have. Cameron Kenney again steps up, has a huge night. The mainstays, Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills for sure, all stepped up and had their time.
â€œWhen you're playing these guys, it takes all of them. They make you work. It's not easy.â€
It didn't come easy, especially early on. Nebraska jumped to a 17-0 lead and was on the verge of putting the game away.
But it was OU's receivers who provided the spark to get the Sooners back in the fight.
Off a play-action fake, Stills got a step off a post pattern on safety Austin Cassidy and hauled in a pass from quarterback Landry Jones for a 49-yard touchdown that gave OU life in the second quarter.
â€œKind of laid it out there for him,â€ Jones said. â€œAnd he used his speed to run past everybody and made a great grab.â€
Stills and the Sooner receivers were just getting started.
With just under two minutes to go before halftime, Jones and Stills hooked up for another big play. Stills was trying to run a stutter-and-go, but Dennard blocked him from breaking down the sidelines. In a gorgeous piece of ad-lib, Stills changed routes and cut inside for an impromptu post. Jones put the ball into Stills' chest for a 31-yard gain to the 1, setting up a touchdown sneak by Jones the next play that tied the game, 17-17.
â€œI figured I couldn't go outside,â€ Stills said. â€œSo I slipped inside him, and Landry and I happened to be on the same page.â€
The second half, it was Broyles' turn. Out of the slot, Broyles broke loose on a wheel route past Hagg and, arms fully extended, reeled in Jones' pass 47 yards to the Husker 3, setting up a Jimmy Stevens field goal to re-tie the game, 20-20.
â€œThe receivers, they beat their guy that was covering them,â€ Jones said. â€œThey beat their man coverage.â€
But as clutch as Stills and Broyles were, Kenney was most clutch of all.
Facing third-and-24 in the fourth quarter, the Sooners seemed destined to give the ball back to Nebraska. But fighting off Amukamara, Kenney dashed across the middle of the field for a 23-yard gain.The next play, on fourth-and-1, Kenney beat Amukamara again, this time on a slant pass to give the Sooners a huge first-down conversion and keep the drive alive.
Two plays later, he shook loose from Amukamara again for another reception and another first down, setting up Stevens' game-winning 27-yard field goal.
â€œI've got to give it to the receivers,â€ Jones said. â€œThey got open.
â€œOur receivers were great.â€