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College Football Musings from the Train: Bedlam Recap Edition

9:37 AM EST on December 9, 2013

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The Game

In what was likely the best Bedlam game in history, the Oklahoma Sooners improbably defeated the highly ranked and favored Oklahoma State Cowboys 33-24 on the frozen tundra of Boone Pickens Stadium. The Sooners were outgained by the Pokes 400 yards to 358, but scored twice on special teams and rode the unlikely Bedlam hero Blake Bell to a last-minute victory. Bell was one of three quarterbacks used by Oklahoma in the game, with starter Trevor Knight sustaining a dislocated shoulder to his non-throwing ... shoulder ... late in the first half. And with Kendal Thompson being largely ineffective, likely due to the ridiculous manner in which he was used, Blake Bell stepped up and led the Sooners' to victory, culminating with a seven yard touchdown pass to Jalen Saunders with 19 seconds left in the game.

It was a result OSU Fan will lament for years. In one shocking drive, the Cowboys' conference championship aspirations and BCS bowl game went up in flames and the OU jinx encased itself in carbonite. OSU Fan will inevitably blame the refs for two non-reviews that final OU drive. That blame would misplaced. They guys who lost this game wore black and orange.

The Pokes' defense, the best total defense in the conference by a relatively wide margin, pissed away the lead, allowing a 3rd string quarterback to march down the field and score. Their All-American corner dropped an INT of a ridiculous three-story tall, underthrown ball by Bell. It could have ended the game.

Then there is offense. The Cowboys rushed for 200 yards on 35 carries. Perhaps hellbent on establishing a balanced offense, the Pokes also threw the ball 35 times, with limited success until the last four minutes of the game. To everyone in the stadium and at home, it was painfully obvious OSU could run the ball on OU. Yet, the Cowboys offensive brain trust elected to run the ball only 10 times in the second half, while throwing 20 passes. At no point save their last drive was OSU able to establish a rhythm throwing the ball, yet they kept chucking it. OSU' s best drive? 99 yards. 10 plays. Six rushes.

And how about those Sooners? For OU to defeat what appeared to be a superior OSU team on its home field, with the conference championships on the line, with the local media and, hell its own fans against them, the victory must be Bar Rafeli gratifying. Though to the layman they were completely outplayed, the Sooners played enough defense, ran a good enough offense when it counted, and played exceptional special teams to beat the prohibitive favorite by a touchdown plus. Bob Stoops was masterful in his motivation and management of the game, particularly the unconventional gimmick plays, which seemed to work in OU's favor each time. It felt like 2002 or something.

The Sooners were able to control the clock and did just enough on offense to keep the game close. OU ran the ball 40 times for 165 yards and passed the ball 33 times for 193. Those number are pretty awful, but considering they played three quarterbacks, missed two starting offensive lineman, and were hampered by the ever pass happy Josh Heupel, it's not so bad. Though the final play skewed the total number of yards accumulated by the Cowboys, Oklahoma forced OSU to punt seven times, and allowed four scores on 15 Cowboy drives.

The Sooners were simply good enough when it mattered to defeat the Cowboys.

The Drive I

Down 20-17 with 4:27 left, Oklahoma State needed 89 yards from a struggling Clint Chelf in order to exorcise decades of Bedlam demons and avoid the stunning upset against Oklahoma. Chelf turned his Baylor switch on and delivered, executing a brilliant seven play drive, highlighted by four straight competitions to take the ball to the Sooner 5-yard-line. Three running plays later, OSU had a 4-point lead with under two minutes to play.

Chelf was 15-31 for a paltry 115 yards prior to the drive. It was his seminal moment in a brilliant second half of his Senior season, and likely cemented his place among Cowboy folklore. Well, that is if the OSU defense could stop a much maligned, back-up quarterback from going 66 yards in 90 seconds ...

The Drive II

Which it couldn't.

blake-bell-to-jalen-saunders

Blake Bell, he of the five practice reps during bedlam week. He of being benched after sustaining a concussion against ISU. He of the third option at quarterback for a team that couldn't score an offensive touchdown until the 59 minute mark. He of the brilliant 66 yard game winning touchdown in 20 degree weather in Stillwater against a top 10 OSU team and the top defense in the conference.

Aside from a terrible throw to Justin Gilbert LaColton Bester (which was the correct call, as documented by Ryan Stewart of News 9), Bell brought back memories of Sam Bradford (or Landry Jones), going 6-9 for all 66 yards, including the game winning touchdown to Jalen Saunders in the right back corner of the endzone. Bell completed every pass out there – screens, crosses, outs, and a corner route. It truly is hard to believe the guy who managed the offense so efficient and effectively on the road was the same guy who looked so wildly inept against Texas and Baylor. 13-16 for 140 yards and a touchdown (and a second should have been touchdown on a spectacular scramble and throw in the first half that was dropped by the tight end). His second highest quarterback rating of the year. A stunning game winning drive. Considering the circumstances, the most impressive end game drive during the Stoops era.

The Play Of The Game

There were several. You have the Saunders punt return that woke up the OU sideline. You had the Gilbert "did he, didn't he" interception. You have the Bell to Saunders game winning touchdown.

But then there was the fake.

oklahoma-fake-field-goal-against-oklahoma-state

With 2:41 left in the 3rd, the Sooners completed their first drive of the second half that didn't end in a three and out. Oklahoma had no discernible offense, having played all three quarterbacks to minimal success (including two on this drive alone), particularly after halftime. Down by a touchdown, Oklahoma lined up for a chip shot field goal by Michael Honeycutt by bring the score to 17-13.

Then something happened. Something pretty awesome. After running a double reserve earlier in the drive, Bob Stoops continued to channel the golden years and faked the mf'ing field goal.

It is difficult to tell when coach decided to call the play. Rumors are he made said decision on 2nd down. OSU has eight guys lined up in field goal defense to the right of the center, leaving three defenders to cover three blockers, the holder, and the kicker. It was either sound game planning against the Pokes, idiotic defense from OSU, or a moment of spontaneous brilliance by OU after the first field goal attempt by Honeycutt. Probably all three, as evidenced by OSU using the same defense on Honeycutt's's first field goal, which not coincidentally was on the same left hashmark. When the ball was snapped, OSU was outnumbered to the short side of the field, leaving Grant Bothun with either a difficult run into the end zone or a simple pass to Honeycutt for the touchdown.

With the Sooner offense unable to move the ball well in the second half, save the aforementioned double reverse, the fake was ballsy, perfectly timed, and well executed.

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The Player Of The Game

Plenty of options to choose from. Desmond Roland was the best offensive player on either side of the ball. Michael Honeycutt accounted for 15 of Oklahoma's 34 points. Blake Bell engineered the last-minute scoring drive. Sterling Sheppard caught 7 passes for 112 yards.

But the guy who made the big plays for the winning team was Jalen Saunders. Saunders caught five passes for 39 yards, including the game winner with 19 seconds left. He ran the ball twice for 49 yards. He ran back a punt 64 yards for a touchdown and created this gif of herp derp greatness.

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If not for Saunders' big plays, OU does not win Bedlam.

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Classless Act of the Game

Once again, there were several nominees. The easy choice is this:

whNLHID

Not that it matters, but the tripper is on twitter. This one seemed prophetic:

But I'm going with...

bedlam turkey leg

Looks like he couldn't hang on...

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The Statistics

Oklahoma won the turnover battle 2-1.

The teams went 4-28 combined on third down conversions.

Oklahoma converted all three fourth down attempts.

The Sooners' held a 9 minute time of possession advantage.

OSU averaged 5.7 yards a rush ... yet threw the ball 35 times.

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The Result

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Berry Tramel called it a cataclysmic loss for OSU.

Jake Trotter called it a catastrophic loss.

I call it the usual.

The Cowboys have managed a single win against his rival the last 11 tries, with that lone win coming against a battered Sooner team in Stillwater by the best OSU team in history. Gundy is now 1-8 against Stoops, often outcoached by Big Balls Bob, particularly in the fourth quarter of each contest.

OSU isn't going to descend into mediocrity for the long haul, but is a program about to go through some serious changes on both sides of the ball. The defense, lauded for its play this year and rightfully so, loses eight starters and several additional contributors to graduation. They lose their starting quarterback, two starters on the offensive line, and two good possession receivers in Tracy and Charlie Moore. This is going to be a team in transition next year and perhaps beyond.

Oklahoma, in a season of injuries, disappointment, and general discombobulation, is going to a BCS bowl game.

Un-effig-believable.

This is the same team that, for the better part of the season, couldn't score with $20 on South Robinson. They couldn't stop Texas running the ball. They couldn't stop Kansas State throwing the ball. They couldn't stop Baylor from doing either. Yet, for the 9th time in school history, OU is going to a BCS bowl game.

Now, don't get me wrong - the Sooners are going to get bitch slapped by Alabama in New Orleans. Josh Huepel offense versus a Nick Saban defense? Good luck, but honestly, who would have thought this team would be in the Sugar Bowl after that embarrassment in Waco a month ago. Stoops never ceases to amaze me. He's made BCS bowls with Nate Hybl, Paul Thompson and now the two-headed monster of Trake Bellknight. When things seem completely hopeless and lost, the guy has a way to motivate his team to accomplish what seems wildly unlikely. He has done a masterful job coaching the past month.

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What's Next

Oklahoma State vs Missouri, Cotton Bowl: Half the fun of a bowl is seeing two schools that rarely play each other meet-up in a big game. Therefore, this game already loses half the fun. That being said, it is Oklahoma State and Missouri, so it will probably have a crazy ending or hectic finish.

Oklahoma vs. Alabama, Sugar Bowl: It was fun while it lasted, OU Fan. Half of the chess match in Sugar Bowl will feature this guy:

josh heupel batman

vs this guy...

ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE v LSU TIGERS in BCS Championship game

Things could get ugly.

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