Oklahoma maintains its hopes for a sixth successive Big 12 championship on Saturday – something that seemed unlikely more than a month ago.
In the process, the Sooners did what they do with regularity – beating rivals Bedlam Oklahoma State and coach Mike Gundy 41-13 in front of a pandemic-limited 22,700 crowd at Norman. Gundy lost 2-14 against Oklahoma.
Soon quarterback Spencer Rattler threw four goals and ran for one more goal in the win.
No. 18 Oklahoma (6-2, 5-2 Big 12) is now in a solid position to make the Big 12 championship tie at the AT&T Stadium on December 19 with matches remaining in West Virginia and against Baylor. Iowa State (6-2, 6-1) leads the Top 12 with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas having two conference defeats each.
The Sooners are clearly a different team from the team that excelled in the fourth quarter and lost back-to-back matches against Kansas State and Iowa State earlier in the season.
“Wish we had 10 games to go.” The team is fun, “said OU coach Lincoln Riley, then added,” It’s really interesting how this team is playing now, what this team is capable of. “
Key parts of that improvement were running returns to Rhamondre Stevenson and holding midfielder Ronnie Perkins, back from a five-match suspension.
Stevenson with a weight of 236 pounds rushed for 141 yards on 26 carries.
“He’s been our supporter,” said Rattler. “When we need positive yards, when we need the first down, he’s the guy we want to go to. Giving him a stone is not a bad idea. “
Perkins was dominant, especially in the first half, with two sacks and three tackles for defeat.
No. 14 Oklahoma State (5-2, 4-2) has champion hopes this season with the return of playmakers Chuba Hubbard and Tylan Wallace and is still alive in hot pursuit. The Cowboys are close to Texas Tech and on the road at TCU and Baylor in a rescheduled game.
“We lost to the better teams,” said Gundy. “They beat us. They beat us. “
The Sooners took a 21-point lead in the opening nine minutes before the Oklahoma State defense confirmed itself. At one point, sandwiched between the second and third quarters, OU had three consecutive three-and-outs – a rarity in the Riley era.
While the defense was doing its job, Oklahoma state hopes of being hurt again by injured midfielder Spencer Sanders began.
Trailing 21-0 in the first quarter, Oklahoma State lost to Sanders in the first quarter when he was sent off for a sack by Ronnie Perkins. Sanders went to be examined by medics and was replaced by Shane Illingworth. The freshman from California started two games earlier this season when Sanders injured his ankle.
While he led Oklahoma State on a first-quarter touchdown drive helped by OU’s unsportsmanlike behavior penalty, Illingworth completed just 5 of 21 passes for 71 yards, including 2 of his last 15.
Oklahoma held the Cowboys’ total attack of 246 yards, 165 yards below their season average.
“I wish we could get back in the first quarter,” said Gundy. “We put ourselves in a hole and can never come back. We’re not as explosive as the previous years, so it’s a little more difficult. “
Sanders returned in the fourth quarter, but by then Oklahoma had built up its lead to 34-13 with a bit of Riley’s magic.
Oklahoma snapped the ball straight at Stevenson, who was handed to Rattler, who faked the reverse, slid out and found Jeremiah Hall for a 30-yard touchdown with 14:15 to play.
The Sooners almost stopped the game before it started.
Rattler led touchdown drives from 75 and 74 yards in Oklahoma’s first two holdings.
Then the Oklahoma defense forced Sanders and Rattler’s interception to hit Theo Wease on a 9-yard touchdown pass with just 8:51 gone to take a 21-0 lead.
Rattler completed 17 of 24 for 301 yards, completing passes to nine different receivers.
“Game by game, we were just improving and improving,” said Rattler. “You can see him going on.”
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