STILLWATER — The Oklahoma State offense had suddenly come to life, zipping down the field for the go-ahead score against Oklahoma with fewer than two minutes remaining.
That put the Cowboys in, presumably, a spectacular spot. A defense that had been so reliable and remarkable all season long — and had not given up an offensive touchdown Saturday — simply needed to keep the Sooners out of the end zone.
OSU couldn't get that final stop. A 7-yard touchdown pass from Blake Bell to Jalen Saunders with 19 seconds left proved to be the decisive score in a wild and wacky 33-24 Bedlam victory for the Sooners, which also dashed the No. 6 Cowboys' Big 12 title hopes and will keep them out of a BCS bowl game.
“There were a lot of drives of the games that they didn't (score) and we had a lot of great stops,” Cowboy defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said. “And that's what hurts so bad, when you have a chance to make that stop and we didn't.
“Yeah, that tears you up.”
With the time crunch, the 17th-ranked Sooners (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) were forced into an all-passing situation on a drive that started from their own 34. Spencer said the Cowboys (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) tried to mix up their looks, sending pressure on some plays and dropping more guys into coverage on others.
But Bell, the one-time starter who was the Sooners' third quarterback used Saturday, delivered. He completed 5-of-8 throws, starting the drive with two straight strikes to Sterling Shepard for nine and 18 yards, respectively, and later connecting with Saunders off a scramble for 13 yards and safety valve Brennan Clay for 10 yards.
Then came the winning toss floated to the corner to Saunders, who had beaten safety Lyndell Johnson on the play.
“The quarterback made some good plays, and there were some good catches that moved the ball down the field,” Cowboy coach Mike Gundy said. “Our defense was tremendous all year, and you play the percentages based on what we've done all year.
“In most cases we would have been able to get that stop.”
For a moment, the Cowboys — and their supporters braving the elements on a day where temperatures hovered in the teens and 20s — thought they had made that stop to clinch the victory.