Oklahoma survives the Bedlam
With a thrilling finish in a Bedlam game that lived up to its name, Landry Jones chased away the demons that had hounded No. 14 Oklahoma all season.
Jones matched the school record with 468 yards passing and threw two long touchdown passes 29 seconds apart in the fourth quarter as the Sooners beat No. 10 Oklahoma State 47-41 on Saturday night to forge a three-way tie atop the Big 12 South - a tie that should break OU's way.
Jones and Oklahoma (10-2, 6-2 Big 12) came in as a rare underdog in a series it has dominated for over a century, thanks to a pair of second-half meltdowns on the road.
But in an exhilarating sequence that saw the teams exchange two touchdowns apiece within 92 seconds, Jones put the Sooners in position to play for the Big 12 title for an eighth time since 2000.
"You watch some of the great quarterbacks - the Joe Montanas and those guys - they'll have bad days and then they'll have a fourth quarter that wins the game and that's all anybody talks about. ... The important thing is to stay after it," coach Bob Stoops said. "You're still going to have opportunities to make your plays. And maybe, he's getting that."
Jones threw an 86-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Kenney then answered Justin Gilbert's kickoff return score for Oklahoma State (10-2, 6-2 Big 12) with his fourth TD toss - a 76-yarder to James Hanna 29 seconds later to make it 47-38 with 2:34 remaining.
Dan Bailey got Oklahoma State within striking distance with a 34-yard field goal with 36 seconds left, but Ryan Broyles recovered an onside kick to allow the Sooners to run out the clock on their eighth straight win in the series.
"I started to take a deep breath right before they ran that kickoff back," Hanna said. "But stuff happens, and you've got to come back and keep playing."
The division will be decided based on which team comes out ahead in the Bowl Championship Series standings on Sunday between the two in-state rivals and Texas A&M. Oklahoma State came in ninth, with Oklahoma 13th and A&M 17th.
It's the second time in three years the Big 12 South comes down to a BCS tiebreaker. The Sooners came out ahead against Texas and Texas Tech in 2008 and won the Big 12 title before losing in the BCS championship game to Florida. And once again, the Sooners figure to be in good position to move on.
Texas A&M (8-3, 6-2) would have to make up at least three spots on the Sooners in the standings, or the Cowboys would have to have the slightest of drops to prevent an Oklahoma-Nebraska matchup for the final Big 12 championship game next Saturday night in Arlington, Texas.
"I know we still have to have a vote here. In the end, what would be more fitting, though?" Stoops said. "How exciting to be able to pair up against Nebraska. ... The tradition there and the history between Nebraska and Oklahoma and with them departing from us, to have one more go at it is really pretty exciting and special."
This game marked the first time the rivalry had been played at the end of the season with a conference or division title at stake since 1984, when No. 2 Oklahoma beat No. 3 Oklahoma State 24-14 to claim the Big Eight title. Oklahoma State had chances to knock the Sooners out of contention for the conference and national titles - and did so back in 2001 - but never to get a trophy of its own.
"We certainly would have liked to have taken advantage of the opportunity we had to play next week," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said. "But with the way these guys have played this year and improved and come together, I wouldn't say that they've blown an opportunity. We just didn't take advantage of one."
Weeden had 257 yards passing with two touchdowns and three interceptions for Oklahoma State.
Jones threw three first-half interceptions - two on balls he was trying to throw away, and one that Shaun Lewis returned for a touchdown - and did as much to keep Oklahoma State in the game as to put the Sooners ahead early on. But down the stretch, he was able to make the key plays that were lacking in second-half failures on the road earlier in the season at Missouri and Texas A&M.
He engineered drives for three Jimmy Stevens field goals in the fourth quarter to take a seemingly comfortable nine-point lead with under 6 minutes left, but the game was just getting interesting.
Oklahoma State marched downfield to get within 33-31 on Justin Blackmon's 15-yard touchdown catch from Weeden, then had a chance to get the ball back when Brodrick Brown - who had a highlight-reel tip for an interception earlier that Stoops called "one of the better plays I've ever seen" - let another pick go through his arms.
Jones connected with Kenney on the next snap, and he zoomed across the field and down the left sideline to make it 40-31 with 3:03 remaining.
Gilbert responded with an 89-yard runback on the ensuing kickoff, but Oklahoma had some more big-play tricks up its sleeve. After pitching the ball to Mossis Madu on first down, Jones found a wide-open Hanna behind the defense on a play-action pass and he was off to another touchdown.
"You've just got to put your head down and you're like, 'OK, well, we've got to go back out there and do it again,"' Jones said.