November 30, 2008

OSU is passed by: Sooners win Bedlam

STILLWATER- Bedlam 2008 wasn't just Bedlam, it was bonkers as well.

In a game full of momentum shifts and huge moments, Oklahoma ended up pulling away, 61-41, in front of 49,031 fans at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday night.

The final score of the game was a little deceptive. OSU (9-3 overall, 5-3 Big 12) weathered the typical early oppressive onslaught the Sooners have proved capable of doing to teams.

It wasn't until later in the game that the Cowboys finally succumbed to the Sooners.

Close most of the first half, OSU and OU staged a great Bedlam battle most of the way. After one quarter, the Sooners were up only 7-3. Toward the end of the second, OU only led 14-13 before scoring a late touchdown to take a 21-13 lead into the half.

But the third quarter proved to be the Cowboys' downfall.

Getting the ball first in the second half, OSU (9-3 overall, 5-3 Big 12) drove downfield and scored a touchdown on an amazing play where Zac Robinson was nearly sacked before getting a pass off to Dez Bryant, who ran it in for the score. After that, the Pokes attempted a two-point conversion to try and tie the score at 21. But Robinson went down and lost the ball and OU ran it all the way back for a defensive two-point touchdown.

The real backbreaking moment for OSU was actually due to the Cowboy defense keeping theirs eyes on the ball. A Sam Bradford pass was tipped - it was intended for Manuel Johnson - and Jermaine Gresham caught it and managed to run 73 yards for the score. After that, the Sooners were up 30-19.

A magnificent run by Robinson followed up that OU touchdown, cutting the score to 30-26 with 6:13 to go in the third quarter. From there, things started bouncing around, as the teams traded scores into the first part of the fourth frame.

After that, the Sooners (11-1, 7-1) took control, scoring three more times, including a field goal and touchdown in the final three minutes. And a Bedlam game which was close and competitive throughout ended with a 20-point margin in favor of OU.

"It was a very disappointed team in that locker room and they're very emotional right now - and justly so," head coach Mike Gundy said. "This football game came down to the team that made the most mistakes. We made some crucial errors and turned the ball over several times. When you play a football team that is as good as Oklahoma is right now, you can't turn the football over and expect to find ways to win."

In reality, the game came down to three moments that all went in the favor of the Sooners (11-1, 7-1). First, a Robinson interception gave the Sooners a short field in OSU territory, which they capitalized on by scoring a touchdown. Then there was the two-point conversion ran back for two points. And then came the crazy tip play. All of that amounted to 16 points for the Sooners and made a world of difference in what was otherwise a very tight contest.

"I thought our team played extremely hard," Gundy said. "We were down a number of times and fought back, drove down the field and scored. Some players made big time plays and we returned a kickoff. They had a little too much firepower for us on offense."

For the game, OU put up 557 yards, 370 of which came via the passing of Bradford. He also threw for four touchdowns on 30-of-44 passing. The Cowboys held their own on O, putting up 452 yards. Robinson had 254 of those yards through the air, with three touchdowns on 17-of-26 passing. He also ran for 90 yards and a score.

"Give Zac Robinson some credit," said OU head coach Bob Stoops. "He played an excellent game. He just frustrated us so many times because you thought you had him sacked and he'd break through or throw the ball and make plays or he'd run for a first down. That kind of play really threw us off some."

OSU felt like it needed its "Four Aces" - Bryant, Robinson, Kendall Hunter and Brandon Pettigrew - to do well in order to win. Three of those performed well, but Pettigrew never really got into the game. His lone reception was for 38 yards. A tough way for a senior to finish his regular-season collegiate career.

"I told our team after the game that what really hurt me was for our seniors to not finish with a win," Gundy said. "But we do have a bowl game to finish the season with and we can still finish with a win. And what the seniors need to know is that they're responsible for turning this program around and brining it to the level it is now. They've provided great leadership."

Now the Cowboys await the announcement of their bowl destination. That should be announced by the end of next weekend.

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