NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops was playing the percentages when he called timeout with 46 seconds left Saturday night at Baylor.
After the Bears ran the ball up the middle on first down, content to run out the clock and head to overtime, Stoops' plan was to get a defensive stop, force Baylor to punt and drive for a game-winning field goal.
“I was playing to win,” Stoops said. “They were on their own 20. We have the wind, they're against it. To me, that's a 15-yard swing. Michael (Hunnicutt) made a 53-yarder with the wind at Kansas State with a similar type wind.
“We just stopped them two straight series. They didn't have any timeouts. I felt if we could get a stop we could get field position and have a chance for a field goal. Landry (Jones) had been hot. I felt even if they were able to get a first down there wouldn't be enough time.”
After the timeout, Baylor changed strategies.
Quarterback Robert Griffin dropped back to pass then scrambled 22 yards for a first down.
On the next play, Griffin scrambled for eight more yards followed by a 12-yard pass to Kendall Wright. The game-winning TD drive culminated with a 34-yard TD pass to Terrence Williams.
“On the first scramble, our player (in the flat) runs off to the deep middle,” Stoops said. “If he stays in the flat, he's going to be right there to come up and get him off the scramble like we had done earlier in the game. He didn't do it. That's how it goes. You take a gamble. I was playing to win.”
Was Stoops surprised Baylor coach Art Briles changed strategies?
“I was surprised,” Stoops said. “I thought he'd run it one more time and then throw it. But to be totally honest, I wasn't totally surprised. In the end, we were in good coverage. He pulls it down and our flat defender didn't stay in the flat.”
Stoops in preseason talked about “it's about time we won one.” Now with two losses OU, ranked No. 1 in preseason, is out of the national title game chase.
“To do it over a long period of time, isn't the easiest thing to do,” Stoops said. “For the most part we've had a pretty good measure of consistent success of continually hovering around and being in the discussion, being in the hunt for a good number of years.”
But there is disappointment OU didn't meet preseason No. 1 expectations. That led to a question whether some changes are needed for the Sooners “to get over the hump.”
“In the end who else is there that much?” Stoops asked. “Who else has that many opportunities? I don't think anybody. So what are they doing to be there more than they've been? It's not easy. There are 110 or whatever number of teams.
“Everybody is well aware of what's talked about all the time — parity. Every school has (good) players anymore. It's no different than anyone else over the last 10 or 11 years. We've been in it as much as anybody. It's just not easy to do.”
During Stoops' 13 seasons the Sooners have played in four national title games. They won the national championship in 2000 and lost the national title game in 2003, 2005 and 2008.