Here are some quick observations from Oklahoma’s 33-24 win over Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Saturday.
1. OU’s special teams: With most of the Sooners’ points on the day, OU’s special teams kept the Sooners in the game. Jalen Saunders’ 64-yard punt return touchdown tied the game at 7-7 and the ST unit tied the game again at 17-all in the third on a gutsy fake field goal pass from kick holder Grant Botham to kicker Michael Hunnicutt (!?) Oh yeah, punter Jed Barnett was outstanding. With OU’s offense struggling to find its rhythm in the first quarter, Barnett punted twice to the Cowboys’ 1-yard line (with great coverage work both times by Trey Franks). Hunnicutt alone accounted for 15 points.
2. Second half switches: It was a revolving door at quarterback. Trevor Knight did not return for the second half and the Sooners went with Kendal Thompson out of halftime. Thompson was picked off on his first pass play by Kevin Peterson. The Oklahoma State offense also switched it up, going uptempo on offense, leading to a six-play, 82-yard touchdown drive after Peterson’s pick. Clint Chelf hit Desmond Roland with a 15-yard TD pass for the 17-10 lead. Chelf had his least effective performance in months, but rebounded in the second half, engineering a massive go-ahead 89-yard scoring drive with less than two minutes to go. But Blake Bell saved the best for last.
3. Blake Bell: The junior who lost his job to Knight was marvelous down the stretch for OU Saturday. With the Sooners trailing 24-20, he put together an eight-play, 66-yard drive for the win. His 7-yard touchdown pass to Saunders with 19 seconds left was straight out of the Jason White/Sam Bradford/Landry Jones pantheon of throws. Bell was 10-of-16 for 140 yards, none bigger than his game-winning throw.
4. How about that earthquake?: As OSU writer Gina Mizell stated during the game, OSU kicker Ben Grogan has gotten better throughout the season. He saved his best for last, nailing a 41-yard field goal in the second quarter … during an earthquake. According to the Oklahoma Geological Survey, the quake measured at 4.5 on the Richter Scale, but Grogan clearly wasn’t bothered, putting OSU briefly ahead 10-7.
5. What could have been: Some what ifs: Three penalties on the first drive killed what would have been a promising start for Oklahoma State. Roland scored three touchdowns on the day, but had a 75-yard TD run called back on the first play of the game via a holding call.Also, on OU’s game-winning drive, Justin Gilbert appeared to come down with an interception, only to have it ruled an incomplete pass. Two key plays that could have been the difference for OSU.