OU notebook: Sooners defense closes with strong performance

by Michael Baldwin Modified: December 5, 2010 at 7:52 am •  Published: December 5, 2010

A 37-YARD PENALTY?

Oklahoma was called for a holding penalty on a Ryan Broyles punt return early in the fourth quarter. It ended up costing the Sooners 37 yards. But thanks to a Travis Lewis fumble recovery it didn't cost them any points.

Broyles returned the punt to the 42-yard line but the Sooners were flagged for holding. Three times officials continued to step off the penalty until eventually spotting the ball at the 5-yard line.

With the game tied 20-20, the Sooners went three-and-out, giving the Cornhuskers good field position. Lewis, though, recovered a Rex Burkhead fumble, which set up OU's go-ahead field goal that proved to be the difference.

OU fans booed for several plays.

What made the play more confusing is the referee announced the holding penalty was on No. 23 Jermie Calhoun, who is sidelined following ACL surgery. Later it was reported the penalty was on No. 32, Jamell Fleming.

JEFFERSON'S ROLE REDUCED

Freshman nickel back Tony Jefferson entered the game tied for sixth on OU's roster for tackles (60) but played his fewest snaps all season because the Sooners played a lot of their base 4-3 defense to combat Nebraska's grind-it-out, power running game.

Joseph Ibiloye played strongside linebacker much of the game but Jefferson supplied one of the biggest plays when the Sooners went to their nickel package in the final minutes. Jefferson's sack of Taylor Martinez put Nebraska in a third-and-16 hole. Two plays later OU took over on downs to seal the win.

"That sack at the end of the game was huge," said defensive ends coach Bobby Jack Wright.

STEVENS HAS EVENTFUL GAME

Kicker Jimmy Stevens hit three field goals, including two that accounted for all the scoring by either team in the second half.

Stevens has hit 13 of his last 15 attempts, including a 20-yard attempt that tied the game midway through the third quarter and a 27-yarder that put the Sooners' ahead.

Stevens, though, missed a chip-shot 24-yard field goal, pushing the ball wide right that could have tied the game midway through the third quarter. Given a second chance, Stevens hit the game-tying field goal and then the game winner with 8:28 remaining.

BIG BOARD BOO BIRDS

The giant scoreboard is the highlight of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' $1.2 billion stadium which makes it easy for fans to target things they like and don't like.

A smattering of boos filled the stadium when Oklahoma State players Justin Blackmon (Offensive Player of the Year) and Dan Bailey (Special teams Player of the Year) were shown on the screen that spans from 20-yard-line to 20-yard line.

Texas defensive end Sam Acho, shown on the video screen as one of several academic award winners, received boos from both sides.

What was surprising is a loud chorus of boos erupted when Lou Holtz was shown on the big screen on a Dr. Pepper commercial. Evidently, Sooner fans are still upset from the loss to Arkansas in the 1978 Orange Bowl.

Box Score: OU, 23 - Nebraska, 20

by Michael Baldwin
Reporter
Mike Baldwin has been a sports reporter for The Oklahoman since 1982. Mike graduated from Okmulgee High School in 1974 and attended Oklahoma Christian University, graduating with a journalism degree in 1978. Mike's first job was sports editor...
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