NORMAN — Bill Young tried to throw out every look in the defensive playbook. He tried to make adjustments on the fly. He called a timeout to try to allow his players to regroup.
But his Oklahoma State defense that had bent all day was breaking in the final minutes, as Oklahoma marched down the field for the tying score.
Then it broke.
In a wild, instant classic-worthy Bedlam shootout, the OSU defense gave up an 86-yard touchdown drive that knotted the score in the final seconds of regulation, then the game-winning touchdown by Brennan Clay in overtime to give the Sooners a 51-48 victory at Owen Field.
“It's very frustrating,” Young said. “It really is. Obviously, it's my job to put the players in the very best position they can be in to have success, and I didn't do a very good job of that.”
Clay's 18-yard score gave OU its only lead of the game and sent the players and crowd into a frenzy. But that play wouldn't have been possible without the Sooners' 17-play marathon drive that nearly ate up the final six-plus minutes of regulation and ended with Blake Bell 4-yard run on fourth down.
OU quarterback Landry Jones completed 10 of 13 passes for 77 yards on the drive that features seven Sooner first downs — two on third down. And on fourth-and-1 from the 4, Bell side-stepped OSU linebacker Caleb Lavey's diving lunge and carried cornerback Brodrick Brown into the end zone with four seconds remaining.
“The whole time I was thinking, ‘We're going to get off the field the next play. We're going to get a turnover,'” OSU linebacker Lyndell Johnson said. “But unfortunately, they were making plays and getting down the field.”
OSU's defense was touted as — and had been performing as — a much-improved unit in the second half of the season. Entering Saturday, the Cowboys were allowing 25.4 points in Big 12 play and were getting more conventional stops versus relying on the takeaway.
But for much of the Saturday's game, that unit was reminiscent of the 2011 edition.
The Cowboys allowed plenty of yardage in between the 20s and 44 total first downs, the second-most in NCAA history. But they tightened up in the red zone and came up with opportunistic, momentum-swinging plays.
They forced the Sooners to settle for two field goals by Michael Hunnicutt, who missed a third attempt. They snagged a third-quarter fumble by Trey Millard at the OSU 14, a turnover that sparked a drive ending with Joseph Randle's fourth touchdown run and a 38-27 Cowboy lead.
On that final drive of regulation, though, OSU couldn't get off the field. And in overtime, after Quinn Sharp's 26-yard field goal on the Cowboys' possession, it couldn't keep the Sooners out of the end zone.
“I went over and looked at the players in the face (before overtime started), and I thought they were OK,” Gundy said. “But I can see where you would feel like we didn't overcome it, because we went out there and just let them run the ball down our throat and score.”
And throughout the game, the Cowboys could not consistently pressure Jones, a component of last season's Bedlam game plan that worked brilliantly and a part of a stout defense just a week ago against Texas Tech.
Jones was sensational in his final game at Owen Field, completing 46 of 71 passes for 500 yards and three touchdowns. Early in the game, he used quick passes to counter OSU's blitz packages. Later, the Cowboy linebackers and safeties sat back more in zone coverage to try to slow down the passing game.
One of the few times OSU's pass rush did get in Jones' face, he tossed an interception right to Cowboy linebacker Lyndell Johnson, who nearly scored on his 46-yard return and set up a Randle score that gave OSU an early 14-0 lead.
“He did a great job of evading our rush and did a great job of staying on task and getting the ball to the receivers,” Young said. “He got it there with a lot of velocity and he got it there in the right spot.
“There were several plays we were right there, and the ball was a back-shoulder throw where we couldn't get to it.”