Needing a first down to win the game, the Sooners’ offensive coaching staff finally called the right play.
The Sooners hadn’t done much of anything offensively against Texas on Saturday in the Cotton Bowl, but on that play and for much of the game, Oklahoma’s offense did just enough.
“We did well enough to win the game,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “ . . . The offense, again, got it together in the second half and had a nice drive when we needed it. When you play another good team, they’re going to have their plays too.
“Fortunately, we made more of them.”
Maybe not more plays than Texas, which finished with twice as many yards at the Sooners, but Oklahoma made the bigger plays when they had to be made.
Freshman running back Samaje Perine converted the 3rd-and-4 on a swing pass for the Sooners’ lone third-down conversion on 11 tries and then picked up one more first down to all but ice the Sooners’ 31-26 victory.
“We’re never satisfied with a performance like this,” Perine said. “But we got the win and in the end, that’s all that matters.”
Don’t mistake opportunistic for good because Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) was far from good. The Sooners had just 29 yards of offense in the first half and only one first down. Stoops credited some of that to Texas, but realistically, Oklahoma did more to hurt itself on offense than any gameplan the Longhorns could have put together.
Even when Oklahoma started playing well, it was nothing dominant. It was gimmicky.
The Sooners’ first touchdown started with great field position and benefitted from two big plays.
Their second, two drives later, had even better field position and came after quarterback Trevor Knight found Sterling Shepard, who had a team-high 63 yards, on a bubble screen – that came with a quick pump fake.
“We’re resilient,” Stoops said. “I keep saying it. The group has a great attitude, great team chemistry. We just have to keep playing. We made some mistakes or some bad plays through the game, but we have to keep coming after it and make other plays to make up for it. We were able to do that.”
The Sooners resorted to trick plays to spark offense with a handful of reverses, three to Shepard – one of which went for minus-11 yards. Shepard finished the game with 36 rushing yards, including a 31-yard reverse.
For the second week in a row, Knight was shaky – although he completed more 60 percent of his throws and didn’t turn the ball over.
The offense line allowed only one sack but averaged just 3.4 yards per carry.
Statistically, Oklahoma wasn’t any better offensively than in its loss to TCU. In fact, they were worse.
“Do I like everything that happened today? Heck no,” Stoop said. “We’ve got to a lot to work on. That’s obvious. But it’s always good when you win and you didn’t play very well and you’ve got things you can correct.”
After the game, there were plenty of phrases passed around that most might not associate to a team with total confidence.
Oklahoma did “just enough.”
The Sooners made plays “when they needed to.”
Like Alex Ross said though: A win is a win, sir.
The offense didn’t play well enough to win. When it needed to, Oklahoma played just well enough to win.
“We knew their defense was gonna come prepared and ready to play,” Perine said. “They did, and we just had to do enough. . . . We just did enough to get the win.”