CINCINNATI — Alabama barely escaped the Ozarks with its No. 1 ranking. Temple led Penn State most of the game. And Texas, I assume you've heard about.
With upsets brewed and brewing on a wild Saturday evening of college football, Oklahoma priorities quickly changed.
Forget style points. Forget ironing out wrinkles. Just win on the banks of the Ohio River.
The eighth-ranked Sooners did just that, 31-29 over a wounded but dangerous Cincinnati at Paul Brown Stadium.
The game was not a testament to the coliseum's namesake. Raggedly played by both teams.
The Bearcats didn't take care of the ball and it cost them. Two Jonathan Nelson-produced turnovers in the first half turned away Cincinnati from likely touchdowns, and two fourth-quarter turnovers produced by Sooners you've barely heard of killed UC's chances for a stirring rally.
The Sooners seemed to coast after a 24-9 lead five minutes into the third quarter. Their run defense was awful, as Cincy tailback Isaiah Pead ran free, and he doesn't even play for Air Force.
But on a day when UCLA beat Texas 34-12, a two-point win in Cincinnati seemed downright heartwarming to Sooners.
"We're not trying to win ugly," said OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. "But we're not greedy enough to think winning's not good."
Winning is very, very good. Especially when it comes with the help of people like Pryce Macon and James Hanna.
Macon, a third-team defensive end, dislodged the ball from scrambling quarterback Zach Collaros, with UC trailing 24-22 and facing 3rd-and-9 from the OU 43-yard line midway through the fourth quarter. The Sooners' Jeremy Beal recovered.
Moments later, UC's D.J. Woods muffed Tress Way's punt at the Bearcat 7-yard line. Woods fell on the ball and it should have been Cincinnati's possession, but OU's James Hanna outhustled the officials and dove in before the whistle blew. By the time authorities arrived, Hanna had outwrestled Woods for the ball, and two plays later Landry Jones' 5-yard touchdown pass to Trey Millard gave the Sooners blessed breathing room.
"We just didn't play very well tonight," Beal said. "Good win, I'm happy, but we gotta play better."Box Score: OU, 31 - Cincinnati, 29
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