STILLWATER, Okla. —
“Sooner Magic is back,’’ said a happy Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops following the Sooners’ improbable 33-24 win over No. 6-ranked Oklahoma State Saturday.
So is Big Game Bob (Stoops).
Stoops showed again he’s at his best when others write the Sooners off as many did after a 41-12 loss to Baylor on Nov. 7.
OU was down to its third quarterback option after Trevor Knight went out with a shoulder injury and Kendal Thompson was ineffective the third period with OSU stacking the box to stop the Sooners’ zone read option.
No panic — he puts in Blake Bell, who throws for 134 yards in the final period on drives that produce a field goal and the game-winning touchdown.
OU was without two of its captains (fullback Trey Millard and linebacker Corey Nelson), its best defensive lineman (Jordan Phillips) and two starting offensive lineman (Tyrus Thompson and Adam Shead), and its best defensive back (Aaron Colvin) was playing with a bad shoulder.
“We have had some adversity, but no one flinched, no said anything about it,’’ Stoops said. “Everybody just kept working. I was proud of our attitude, our resilience, our toughness and the way we competed out here today. Guys stepped up.’’
Stoops has had a “no excuses’’ attitude ever since taking over the Sooner program in December 1998. It carried over to his players.
“We don’t listen to you people,’’ said Sooner defensive lineman Chuka Ndulue about being the underdog.”We just came here to play football. It’s just a good old rivalry. You know where the ball is and if you beat your man, it’s good.’’
Stoops flashed some of the riverboat gambler stuff he was known for in his early days at OU.
The Sooners scored a game-tying touchdown on a fake field goal with holder Grant Bothun hitting kicker Michael Hunnicutt on an eight-yard touchdown pass.
OU had only put that play in on Thursday. They had used it successfully against Texas in 1999 and Missouri in 2002.
Stoops said he didn’t see it as a gamble.
“We just felt a field goal wasn’t going to be good enough,’’ Stoops said. “We had a numbers advantage to that side lining up. Grant and Hunny executed it real well. When we put it in, we made sure everyone knew what to expect.’’
It was victory No. 159 for Stoops at OU. It’s the 12th time in 15 seasons the Sooners have won 10 or more games in a season. He is 12-3 against OSU and 8-1 against current OSU coach Mike Gundy.
“It’s up there,’’ said Stoops when asked if it was one of his most satisfying wins. “There’s no denying it’s satisfying with as many good players as we had out. I don’t know how to rate it, but it’s up there with a lot of the good ones.’’
Like 2009 when an underdog OU team shut out OSU 27-0 with three future first round NFL draft picks out (Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham and Trent Williams).
“I wasn’t hearing that at the end of the day,’’ Stoops said. “I had faith in our team because of our attitude. It’s really a fun group to coach. We came into this game expecting to win and I thought we had a good game plan and we would play well.’’
As Al Davis would say, “just win baby.’’
“When it came down to it, we played well enough to win,’’ said OU center Gabe Ikard. “We shuffled guys and put them where we had to put them, it worked out.’’
Campbell is a News & Eagle sports writer.