But the fourth quarter, which has been so disastrous for Sooners in big games in recent years, proved to be OU's time.
And Stoops, loath to compare much of anything, admitted this victory ranks right up there with any in his 13 years.
“What an environment,” Stoops said. “That's what you want. It was awesome.”
Jones, who was battered by Mark Stoops' pass rushers all night, proved his toughness, with solid throws in the fourth quarter under pressure.
“We're a tough team,” Jones said, which frankly has not been true all the time in recent years but is true in 2011. “We've grown a lot since last year.”
This game was like Bedlam 2010, in that it was there for the losing and OU instead persevered. But unlike Bedlam, the Sooners had no great treasure chest of confidence to use. They had to grown their own on this one.
“This is why we came to Oklahoma,” said center Ben Habern. “No. 1 vs. No. 5. Huge game. The crowd was into it. It was huge for us to fight through this game.”
The best sign of all – OU won this game with line of scrimmage dominance in the fourth quarter. The Sooners had it early in the game, lost it somewhere in the middle and found it just in time.
OU's line gave Jones enough time to make season-making throws to Ryan Broyles (on 3rd-and-12) and Kenny Stills (37-yard touchdown) on consecutive plays. Then OU's defensive front harried Trickett into a poor throw, tipped by Ronnell Lewis and speared by Harris. And finally back came the O-line to run off two first downs and set up Jimmy Stevens' clinching field goal.
“Don't give up, keep playing,” said Harris, who lived by the advice, considering he lost his starting job to Jefferson, who was moved back to safety upon Travis Lewis' return. “There's four quarters of football.”
And Saturday night, that fourth quarter belonged to the nation's No. 1 team.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.