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Sooners Win Bedlam With Shootout
November 29, 2008
By Wendell Barnhouse
Big 12 Correspondent

STILLWATER, Okla. - Here's what we know:

* The Big 12 Conference regular season ended Saturday. Oklahoma brought down the curtain with an entertaining, back-and-forth 61-41 defeat of Oklahoma State in Boone Pickens Stadium.

* The South Division finished with a three-way tie - Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech (listed in alphabetical order) are all 11-1 overall and 7-1 in Big 12 play.

* The South Division deadlock will be broken by Sunday's Bowl Championship Series standings that will be announced at approximately 3:30 p.m. CT Sunday. The higest-ranked team in the BCS will earn a spot in Saturday's Dr Pepper Football Championship game Saturday in Kansas City, Mo.

* In the most recent BCS standings, Texas was No. 2 in the BCS and Oklahoma was No. 3. The Longhorns' lead over the Sooners was 0.0084. Texas has the edge in the six computer rankings while the Sooners have a 63-point edge in the two human polls. Texas Tech is seventh in the BCS and doesn't figure to move up in Sunday's standings.

And here's what we don't know:

* Everything (OK, that's an exaggeration).

The history made during this Big 12 season has turned into a mystery. How will the 61 voters in the USA Today/Coaches poll and the 114 voters in the Harris Interactive poll parse Texas' 49-9 victory over Texas A&M Thursday and the Sooners' 30-point victory? How much of a boost will the Longhorns get for defeating the 4-8 Aggies and how impressive was the Sooners' 20-point victory over the 9-3 Cowboys?

No matter which team - Texas or Oklahoma - gets left out the Big 12 title game, the other will be rooting for a Missouri upset. That could open the back door for the team that doesn't play Saturday to sneak into the BCS national championship game.

Interviewed by ABC after the game, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops declined the offered soap box and didn't lobby for his team. Speaking with reporters a few minutes later, he put on the stethescope and played spin doctor.

"I think we've got a really good chance (in the tiebreaker) because of what we've done the last two weeks," he said. "We beat the No. 12 team (Oklahoma State) on their home field by 20 points. "Last week we beat the No. 2 team (Texas Tech) by 44 points. Usually it's what you do at the end of the year that matters."

The single-engine plane towing this sign - 45-35 Settled On A Neutral Field - cost a group of Texas fans a $7,000 rental fee. They wanted to make sure the Longhorns' victory over Oklahoma was not forgotten. OU fans countered with signs that had the scores 39-33 (Texas' loss at Texas Tech) and 66-21 (OU's final score against Tech).

"If that's what our system has come to, having to lobby," said Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, who also noticed the 45-35 signs Texas fans displayed during the Texas A&M game. "We're playing really well right now. I think we deserve the chance to play in Kansas City."

And you thought Miss America was a beauty contest.

Asked how it will be waiting for the BCS announcement Sunday, Bradford said, "Nerve wracking."

Yep. Pretty much. Bradford and the Sooners put the South Division into a three-way tie thanks to a frenetic Bedlam Game. Bradford cemented his place as a serious Heisman Trophy candidate by completing 30-of-44 passes (with at least five drops) for 370 yards and four touchdowns.

Tight end Jermaine Gresham, a finalist for the John Mackey Award that goes to the nation's best tight end, had nine receptions for 158 yards and two touchdowns.

Even with 102 total points, 1,009 total yards and a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Oklahoma, the game turned early in the third quarter.

The Cowboys, trailing 21-13 at halftime, took the opening kickoff and drove 81 yards in eight plays for a touchdown. Oklahoma State got a huge break when Kendall Hunter fumbled on the second play and OU recovered; the officials and instant replay missed it.

OSU quarterback Zac Robinson had consecutive completions of 23 and 36 yards on the drive. And on the touchdown play, he Houdini-ed his way out of a sack before slinging a pass to Dez Bryant, who made a shoe-top catch before slipping into the endzone.

Trailing 21-19, Oklahoma State Mike Gundy went for the 2-point conversion. Oklahoma's Jeremy Beal sacked Robinson, who fumbled. Defensive end Frank Alexander scooped it up and returned it 91 yards for a 2-point extra point return. Instead of 21-21 or 21-20, the Cowboys trailed 23-19.

"Ultimately what it came down to was that we made two or three crucial mistakes and it cost us 10, 12, 14 points," said Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, whose teams losses came to teams ranked No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3. "When you play a team that is as good as Oklahoma is, you can't turn it over and expect to win."

Sooner Magic appeared on OU's next series. On third-and-eight from his 27, Bradford zipped a 20-yard pass to Manny Johnson. It bounced off his hands ... and into Gresham's grasp. He caught the rebound at the OSU 45 and raced untouched for the TD that gave the Sooners a 30-19 lead.

"You've got to have a little luck on your side," Bradford said.

Oklahoma State, with Robinson scrambling for 90 yards and throwing for 254, spent the second half in rally mode. The Cowboys pulled to within 30-26, 37-34 and 44-41. That last margin came with 10:43 remaining after Cox's kickoff return. The last 17 points belonged to the Sooners, who scored on their last eight possessions.

Oklahoma has scored 60 or more points in four consecutive games. They reached that plateau thanks to a fumble recovery with 2:20 remaining. It didn't appear that Stoops wanted to score any style points but after OU picked up a first down on three running plays, Oklahoma State called a timeout with 25 seconds remaining.

As Sooners fans changted "B-C-S" Chris Brown broke free for a 28-yard touchdown run that capped OU's 11th victory.

Will that final seven points matter to the voters? Again, until Sunday afternoon, nobody knows.

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