Oklahoma denies Oklahoma State Big 12 title and BCS bowl
Saturday may have been Bob Stoops’ finest hour.
Trick plays and quarterback switches. A double-reverse and a fake field goal. All of it coming together in a potion that was good enough to beat an Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., – a team that came in as a 10-point favorite, with a BCS bowl game, a Big 12 title and a chance to be big brother for a day.
Stoops has his legacy, his fistful of Big 12 titles and a crystal ball championship, too.
But Blake Bell will always have Bedlam.
First used two seasons ago as a rogue running back, a desperation move to get first downs in short-yardage situations, Bell was good enough that his running style birthed a nickname – The Belldozer. But getting a chance to start this season didn’t work out quite as well. His passing touch matched his nickname – bold, lacking appropriate finesse and a shortage of touch.
But Bedlam is when Bell has been his best. Last year, he ran it for a tying touchdown in the fourth quarter with time running out. This year, he passed it for the winning score with just 19 seconds left.
But unlike 2012 season where Bell overpowered Oklahoma State for that fourth-quarter touchdown, his performance Saturday was unexpected.
“The legend of the ‘Doze’ grows,” tweeted center Gabe Ikard. “What a drive.”
The quarterback who was supposed to be a thrower like Sam Bradford and Jason White and Landry Jones never really showed up in the last month. Then Bell was hurt against Iowa State and benched against Kansas State, or some combination of the two.
The likelihood he’d be seen Saturday against Oklahoma State, much less make a difference was as believable as a two-week forecast.
But all Bel did against OSU was shake off a month of rust, brush off a truckload of doubters and lead Oklahoma to an improbable win in an unlikely situation.
Remember, Bell couldn’t pass. That was the knock on him. Probably still is. That’s why we didn’t see him for a prolonged portion of the schedule. So what was he doing out there going 10-of-16 passing for 140 yards and leading the Sooners down the field in the final 1:46 on an eight-play, 66-yard drive that looked way more Bradford than it did Bell?
Yet there Bell was, finding Jalen Saunders, another Bedlam killer with two punt returns for touchdowns in the past two seasons against OSU, in the endzone for the final 7 yards with just 19 seconds left.
OSU had taken the lead with 1:46 to play. Bell took over. He went five-of-seven passing on the drive, one of the incompletions looking a like a game-ending interception on a pass Bell lobbed with nearly no direction or purpose. It was the kind of pass that gave Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson supporters traction. It was the kind of pass that ends games and causes heads to shake. But it was ruled an incompletion and Bell rallied.
And the Sooners won, 33-24 because Bell made it so.
Not bad for a quarterback who wasn’t part of the game plan Saturday. He wasn’t the second team quarterback who came in when Knight went down and stayed out with an injury to his shoulder right before halftime. He wasn’t the quarterback who received second-team snaps in practice all week. That was Thompson. So Bell’s performance becomes even more notable, because in this game the Sooners were supposed to run it, not pass it.
Knight ran it 11 times in the first half. Running back Brennan Clay had 24 carries. The Sooners ran for 165 yards and Bell, the original running quarterback at OU the past three seasons, didn’t have a single carry.
“Their attitude, their toughness,” Stoops said after the game. “I’ve always had faith and confidence.”
And Bell will always have Bedlam.
Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK