The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

November 25, 2012

Winning only thing for OU

By Bruce Campbell, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

NORMAN — — Just call it the “Belam Series.’’

There seems to be no “D’’ when arch-rival Oklahoma and Oklah-oma State meet.

The Sooners’ 51-48 thriller over the Cowboys Saturday just followed a pattern of recent offensive explosions — 44-10 OSU, 2011; OU 47-41, 2010; OU 61-41, 2008 and OU 49-17, 2007.

Defensive players just followed the motto of the late Al Davis — “Just win, baby.’’

“In this game,’’ said OU defensive back Demontre Hurst, “you don’t worry about the yards. You just worry about getting the W.’’

OU head coach Bob Stoops, a defensive guru, said he would take a 51-48 win over a 7-6 loss.

Ditto for defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.

“I’ve never had so much fun in my life,’’ he said. “What a classic in a lot of ways.’’

So true.

The Southeastern Conference may play better football than the Big 12 (six straight national championships), but what would you rather watch — LSU’s 9-6 regular season overtime win over Alabama last year, or a game that had 1,108 yards in total offense?

“It’s never going to be perfect playing these teams,’’ said Mike Stoops. “They are too good offensively.’’

Take Enid’s Clint Chelf, who has become a folk hero after going from third-stringer to starter. OSU offensive coordinator Todd Monken had a brilliant scheme to suit Chelf.

He hurt OU with his arm (253 yards), his legs (his 38-yard first quarter run was OSU’s longest gain on the ground) and even as a receiver (36 yards on a throw back from Joseph Randle).

“I thought he played good,’’ said Mike Stoops. “I think it is incredible of those guys to have three quarterbacks that can play that well every time they step on the field. You’re not going to see that in a lot of places. That’s pretty amazing the way it’s turned out for them.’’

But for all the yardage OU gave up, the defense came through when it absolutely had to.

The defense had two three-and-outs in the final period, including OSU’s final possession. In overtime, OU held the Cowboys at the nine-yard line, forcing a field goal.

“Coach had some great calls at the end,’’ Hurst said. “You just have to put all the stuff (negative) in the back of your head and get ready to fight for the next play.

“At the end, it was all heart  ... we bit down and wanted to make the play and we did. We had a lot of character. The big thing was that we stayed together and trusted that we could make the play.’’

Mike Stoops said the Sooners tried to pressure Chelf more in the second half with some success.

“I think we got him out of rhythm a little bit,’’ he said.

But Chelf was 8 of 12 passing for 124 yards in the third period, including a 75-yard touchdown pass to Josh Stewart.

Chelf wasn’t the only improbable star. Two of OU’s biggest heroes — transfers Justin Brown (15 catches for 146 yards) and Jalen Saunders (10 catches for 162 yards and 81-yard punt return for touchdown) weren’t being counted in the fall. Both got special waivers to be eligible.

Bob Stoops said the staff decided to let Saunders get a chance to return punts “because of how dynamic he is.’’

“It didn’t surprise us that he would squirt out of there, and fortunately he did,’’ Stoops said.

And if you think Bedlam was crazy, think about next Saturday.

Whoever thought OU would be cheering for Texas? The Sooners need the Longhorns to beat Kansas State to win the Big 12 championship and automatic BCS berth.

Of course, OU must win at TCU, too.

But it’s going to be hard to come down from the high of overtime win over OSU.

Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.