STILLWATER, Okla. —Oklahoma got all the bounces it needed to get past Oklahoma State in the highest-scoring Bedlam rivalry game ever. But did the Sooners do enough to bounce over Texas and into the Big 12 championship game?
That’s for the voters and computers to decide. The third-ranked Sooners took care of their business on the field.
Sam Bradford threw for 370 yards and four touchdowns, cashed in on a 1-yard touchdown plunge after setting it up with an end-over-end flip, and Oklahoma made a case for a BCS bump with a 61-41 win Saturday night against No. 11 Oklahoma State.
On the line was a shot at the Big 12 title next Saturday against Missouri, and also the edge in the national championship race. The Big 12 South will now be decided among Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech in a three-way tie broken by the BCS standings to be released Sunday.
The team that comes out on top will likely be a victory away from going to the BCS championship game in Miami in January.
“I think we have a really good chance,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “You look at what we’ve done the last two weeks. We’ve played the No. 2 team in the country and won by 44. We just played the (No. 11) team in the country in their own place, where no one else has beat them, and won by 20.
“Usually it’s what you’re doing at the end of the year, and we have finished the year really pretty strong.”
Texas hopes the pollsters have a longer memory than that, specifically going back to the Longhorns’ 45-35 win against Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl in October.
A group of Texas fans pulled out all the stops to try to keep the Longhorns in the coveted No. 2 spot in the BCS standings, handing out thousands of signs printed with that score for their game Thursday against Texas A&M.
Longhorns coach Mack Brown was even pleading his case in a telephone interview with television announcers while Oklahoma was making its case on the field.
Brown suggested that the Southeastern Conference’s tiebreaker was better than the Big 12’s because it eliminates the lowest rated team in a three-team deadlock and lets head-to-head decide the winner between the top two.
Of course, that would benefit Texas. But that’s not the way his conference breaks its ties.
The Sooners (11-1, 7-1 Big 12) did the best they could to make up a minuscule eight-thousandths of a point in the BCS standings by putting up as many as they could on the scoreboard.
The problem was Oklahoma State (9-3, 5-3) was able to match them strike-for-strike as both teams scored on six straight possessions beginning at the start of the second quarter. Eventually the nation’s highest-scoring offense was just too much.
And the biggest of the bounces went the Sooners’ way, too. Tight end Jermaine Gresham scored a 73-yard touchdown on a third-down pass that was intended for Manuel Johnson and deflected into the air over three Cowboys defenders and into his arms 10 yards downfield. He was able to outrun the rest of the defenders the final 50 yards to put Oklahoma up 30-19.
Oklahoma’s next touchdown came when Stoops decided to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1, after Bradford somersaulted on his dive for the pylon and came up a yard short. Bradford fumbled the snap on fourth down but was able to pick it up and plunge in for the score.
And the reason the Sooners were able to stay ahead in the first place was a rare defensive 2-point conversion, scored when Oklahoma State went for 2 to try and tie it at 21 and instead fell behind by four on Frank Alexander’s return of Robinson’s fumble.
“Sometimes you do need to have a little luck to win, and I felt like there were a couple plays that luck was on our side,” Bradford said. “But I still think that we played very well tonight overall.”
Bradford completed 30 of 44 passes, leading Oklahoma to its fourth straight 60-point game. The Sooners played out of the shotgun much of the game after Bradford injured his left thumb, which led to a few fumbled snaps.
Gresham ended up with nine catches for 158 yards, both career highs, and two touchdowns. Chris Brown had 98 yards on 19 carries and two scores, including one on the first play after a two-section wide swath of Oklahoma fans started chanting “B-C-S” with 32 seconds left.
“Hopefully we’ll be the No. 2 team when it’s all said and done, and we’ll go play in the championship,” Gresham said. “If not, we’ve just got to go with what we’ve got.”
The Sooners’ defense, which had been improving and made a statement in last week’s 65-21 rout of then-No. 2 Texas Tech had few answers for quarterback Zac Robinson and the Cowboys.
Robinson threw for 254 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score, but never could guide Cowboys (9-3, 5-3) into the lead after halftime.
Dez Bryant caught two touchdown passes to give him 18 for his career, enough to break Oklahoma State’s school record set by Rashaun Woods. Perrish Cox had his fourth career kickoff return touchdown, the most among active players in the country, with a 90-yard dash in the fourth quarter to make it 44-41. But Oklahoma State couldn’t keep it up any longer and the Sooners pulled away.
“We had our chances and just didn’t get it done,” Robinson said.
Robinson refused to get in on the campaigning for any of the three teams in the Big 12 South race, and Bradford said his opinion was “obvious” because he was biased.
“Everything we did tonight kind of says why we should be there,” Bradford said. “It’s out of our hands now.”