Bedlam brings final home start for Sooners’ Jones

Landry Jones wouldn’t consider his career as Oklahoma’s starting
quarterback to be a mixed bag.

Entering his final home game Saturday night against No. 22
Oklahoma State (7-3, 5-2 Big 12), Jones chooses to focus on the
highs he’s experienced with the 14th-ranked Sooners (8-2, 6-1) and
not the occasional fierce criticism he’s endured.

Jones has won one Big 12 championship and is trying to keep
Oklahoma in the mix for another, and he’ll be going for his third
Bedlam rivalry win – to go with three rivalry victories against
Texas.

He’s won the most games in school history and ranks fourth in
Bowl Subdivision history with 15,624 yards.

That hasn’t always been enough to win over his team’s faithful
followers because he’s never put the Sooners in position to play
for a national championship.

”There’s been a lot of great players here, especially the guy I
came after. Sam had done so many good things around this place.
There are some high expectations of me here,” Jones said. ”But at
the end of the day, I wanted to be who I was.

”I didn’t want to be Sam. I didn’t want to be Jason. If you try
to do those things, you aren’t going to live up to the capabilities
of who you are as a player and as an individual.”

As Jones makes his 48th career start, he’ll be opposing Clint
Chelf – who has gone from third-stringer to cult hero while winning
his first two starts for Oklahoma State. He’s earned an oddball
nickname – ”Choo Choo” – that’s been perpetuated on Twitter, but
more importantly the trust of his teammates and coaches.

After dancing around quarterback questions for months while
dealing with injuries to starter Wes Lunt and backup J.W. Walsh,
coach Mike Gundy has named Chelf his starter even though he says
both of the others are available to play.

To some degree, it’s vindication for Chelf after he waited his
turn for two seasons behind Brandon Weeden and then finished third
in a three-way competition this spring.

”That was the coaches’ decision. You have to go with it
sometimes, and it doesn’t always work out for you. You’ve just got
to keep working hard, and that’s what I tried to do,” Chelf
said.

”I’m just happy that we’re winning.”

A Bedlam victory would be a big addition to either quarterback’s
resume. Jones won his first two starts against Oklahoma State
before committing four turnovers in last year’s 44-10 blowout
loss.

The Sooners had a chance to earn a split of the Big 12
championship in that game, but instead allowed Oklahoma State to
snap an eight-game losing streak in the series and win its first
conference title outright.

”Beating OU was great and I think it just kind of proves that
OSU isn’t the little brother anymore,” Cowboys defensive end
Cooper Bassett said. ”We’re a team that’s nationally ranked every
year, we’re at team who gets great recruits every year, we’re a
team that won the Big 12.

”We’re the defending Big 12 champions. So, it’s not the big
brother-little brother effect anymore. I think that the gap is
being closed immensely.”

Jones and his Sooners are again flirting with the Big 12 title
entering this year’s game. They’re currently tied with No. 6 Kansas
State but could claim an outright championship by closing the
season with back-to-back wins against OSU and TCU, plus a K-State
loss to Texas.

At best, Oklahoma State can earn a share of the Big 12
title.

”It’s kind of out of our hands, the Big 12 championship. But
that would be huge for our program if we’re able to sneak in there
and get one this year,” said Jones, who’s 37-10 as a starter.
”Some things have to happen for us to have that possibility. But
you never know what’s going to happen in college football.”

Although his defense was shredded for a school-record 778 yards
in a 50-49 win against West Virginia last week, Jones comes in on a
high. He passed for an Oklahoma-record 554 yards and threw for six
touchdowns, the last one a game-winner with 24 seconds left.

Even better, Jones’ pass to Kenny Stills came after he audibled
at the line on a fourth-and-3 play with the Sooners needing a
touchdown.

”It didn’t surprise me at all. Landry is one of the most
productive players in the history of this conference, so for him to
make those types of plays doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s capable
of doing that all the time,” co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell
said.

”He’s finishing his career, he’s a fabulous player and I know
he’s going to be like a lot of the great players that have played
here. When they’re gone, you miss him.”

AP freelance writer Murray Evans contributed to this report.