Sooners run down Cowboys, 38-20
OKLAHOMA CITY – For one-half of the Bedlam matchup Saturday between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, it appeared to be a fight to the finish with a 17-17 tie. But the Sooners took command with a dominant running game in the second half to beat the Cowboys, 38-20, and claim the Big 12 Championship for the second straight year and 10th in the last 16 years.
With Saturday’s win, No. 7 Oklahoma (10-2) is headed to the Sugar Bowl to meet No. 14 Auburn (8-4) on January 2. The 12th-ranked Pokes (9-3) will face No. 10 Colorado (9-3) in the Alamo Bowl on December 29.
OSU took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter lead over the Sooners with Ben Grogan’s 19-yard field goal. The Cowboys appeared poised to score a touchdown marching from their 45 to the OU 2, but Mason Rudolph fumbled the third-down snap from Brad Lunblade.
The Sooners got uncorked with an 88-yard, three play drive late in the first and into the second period. Baker Mayfield hurled a 69-yard scoring strike to Dede Westbrook for a 7-3 lead.
Westbrook, who also caught a 20-yard pass one play earlier, caught the TD pass at the OSU 35, shed a tackler and raced to the end zone. Westbrook later left the game after suffering a concussion in the second quarter. He finished with 4 catches for 111 yards.
Austin Seibert’s 34-yard field goal on the next series gave OU a 10-3 lead. The Pokes later rolled 90 yards to tie the game. Chris Carson’s 6-yard scamper capped the drive.
The Sooners stalled on their next possession and punted to midfield. Eight plays later, OSU took a 17-10 lead when Rudolph scored on a 6-yard run. Oklahoma answered with a 76-yard drive in five plays. Mayfield scrambled and then found Geno Lewis open in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown to knot the game at 17 with 27 seconds left until intermission.
Barry J. Sanders’ 49-yard kickoff return gave O-State a chance to make a statement with a couple of plays and a timeout. Carson gained 5 yards, and the half ended without a fight.
After rushing for just 40 yards in the first half, OU opened up the running lanes and produced 301 rushing yards in the second half. Samaje Perine led the way with 204 second-half yards to finish with 239 yards on 37 carries in the game.
The Cowboys, who rushed for 118 yards in the opening quarter, rushed for 99 yards the rest if the way. Oklahoma held the Pokes to three points and 143 total yards in the second half.
OU took the lead for good at 24-17 with an 81-yard drive to start the third period. Perine’s 66- yard run to the OSU 15, set up his 1-yard score six plays later. He took the direct snap from center and bulled his way through the middle for the score.
The Sooners then went 80 yards in 13 plays. From the OSU 12, Mayfield danced around looking for an open receiver. He then found Mixon open in the end zone for the score and a 31-17 advantage.
Grogan’s 30-yard field goal with a minute left in the third frame cut the Pokes’ deficit to 31-20.
He later missed a 21-yard chip shot midway through the fourth quarter. One the next play, Mixon sliced off tackle and flew 79 yards for the final tally with 9:35 remaining.
The Sooners won the Big 12 title on their home field and were presented with the trophy in front of the Crimson crowd. OU has won eight straight games this year and holds a 16-game conference streak.
“That was a big deal to the players through the week, that we’ve never had the chance to hoist a Big 12 Championship trophy on our own field,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “Did we need any more motivation? I wouldn’t think so, but the players thought it was pretty cool to be able to do that here.”
“Hard-fought, good game, and with that, I’m just incredibly pleased with our players’ resiliency this season, and in particular, just going through and battling to the end in this game,” Stoops continued. “Really, it’s kind of, flipped the script at halftime. They were running the football a lot better than we were in the first half. We didn’t play good enough defense against the run, and we couldn’t run in the football.
“Then, in the second half, it was the complete opposite. We played really well against the run, and we ran the football really well. I think that was a big part of the game. Some of it’s just overall execution. Obviously, some adjustments in the game, both sides of the ball. We talked about what the issues were and executed it better, obviously, in the second half. That’s a big part of this game up on the soaked field to be able to run the football, and in the second half, I thought that was a major difference in the game as well as the exceptional running of two great backs. Those guys were incredible: Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon.”
Mixon finished with 99 rushing yards and 19 receiving. Mayfield completed 13 of 19 passing for 288 yards and didn’t toss an interception.
Rudolph didn’t have a good game as OSU’s quarterback. He finished with 11 of 25 for 186 yards and no touchdowns nor interceptions. Many of his throws were off target as OU’s pass rushers harassed him many times. Ogbonnia Okoronkwo sacked him twice, and Rudolph was hurried twice, but the OSU quarterback was off rhythm most of the day. James Washington, the team’s leading receiver, had only two catches for 50 yards. Safety Jordan Sterns had the Cowboys’ best performance with 19 tackles.
“We couldn’t get a very good grasp of the ball,” said OSU coach Mike Gundy. “It wasn’t a really good day for us to have an opportunity to throw it down the field. When you look at it, with a minute and thirty to go in the half, we were up by seven, and the big plays in the second half were what got us.
“One of the things that I had concerns with coming in was them getting big plays, and that’s what happened. We were very limited in our ability to throw. Right before half and in the second half, the big plays really got us.”
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