BOULDER, Colo. — Top-ranked Oklahoma has built their undefeated season on big plays, and on Saturday night in Boulder they would use another big play to put away upset-minded Colorado.
Facing a crucial third down and a furious Colorado comeback leading 27-20 with 2:13 left in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma's offense came through again. The Sooners only needed six yards, but got 59 when OU quarterback Jason White hit Mark Clayton on the sideline and the junior receiver zig-zagged his way through the Buffaloes' secondary en route to a touchdown that sealed the Sooners' 34-20 win.
"Jason put it right to Mark when he needed to," said Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops. "Mark is sensational. What a run and what a catch. What execution too."
"It's great that when you had to you stepped up and did it," Stoops continued. " I'm glad it happened the way it did. You're not going to sail through everything the entire year. You want to be challenged with your back against the wall and see how your guys will respond. They stepped up and made a huge play."
The Sooners began the game just like they ended it — with a big play. Facing a third down on their first possession of the game, White dropped back and found Brandon Jones wide open over the middle for a 54-yard touchdown pass at the 11:49 mark of the first quarter.
Oklahoma tacked on another touchdown on their next possession when Renaldo Works capped a four-play, 70-yard drive with a 2-yard TD run to extend the lead to 14-0 with 6:03 to go in the first quarter.
At that point it looked like the rout was on, but the Buffaloes stormed back on their next possession and cut OU's lead to 14-7 with 1:54 to go in the first quarter when CU quarterback Joel Klatt hit D.J. Hackett for a 3-yard touchdown pass.
Sophomore running back Donta Hickson fumbled on the Sooners' next possession and it looked the Buffs would tie the game until OU safety Brandon Everage forced a fumble at the 5-yard line which was picked up by safety Donte Nicholson.
Trey DiCarlo would later add a 42-yard field to give OU a 17-7 halftime lead, and the sophomore kicker then capped a 13-play, 77-yard drive on the Sooners' first possession of the second half with a 20-yard field goal to extend the lead to 20-7.
Later in the third quarter White would connect with Clayton on a 15-yard touchdown pass to put OU up 27-7 and it looked like the rout was on. But despite the fact that the Oklahoma defense held Colorado to just five plays and nine total yards of offense in the third quarter, the Buffaloes stormed back.
Colorado used a 20-yard run on a fake by punter John Torp and and an interference call on a fake field goal to get into position for a 21-yard touchdown pass from Klatt to running back Brian Calhoun as the Buffs closed to within 27-14 with 11:41 to go.
Colorado then cut the Sooners' lead to 27-20 with a 9-yard TD pass from Klatt to Derek McCoy with 5:03 to go, but the extra point was blocked by Brodney Pool.
Oklahoma then took over possession and the rest is history as White and Clayton hooked up for the game-clenching score.
"I always say I don't like moral victories, but at this point in time, I guess you have to take this as one," said Colorado Head Coach Gary Barnett, who is now 1-3 vs. Stoops. "I want the guys to walk away knowing that they stood toe-to-toe with what has been labeled as the best team in the country."
Overall, it was another outstanding day for White. The senior from Tuttle threw three touchdown passes (two to Clayton) and completed 19-of-28 passes for 248 yards. Clayton finished with 96 yards on six catches. OU running back Renaldo Works rushed for 137 yards on 20 carries while Kejuan Jones added 71 yards on 13 attempts.
The Oklahoma defense, despite their lapse in the fourth quarter, was also dominant for most of the night. The Sooners held CU's offense to 227 total yards (233 below their season average), sacked QB Joel Klatt seven times and held running back Brian Calhoun to just 33 yards on ten carries.
"Regardless of what anybody wants to write about Colorado, this is a team that was back-to-back North Division Champions and has been in the Big 12 Championship game the last two years," said Stoops. "They've got good people and a lot of pride. To come in here and make plays was special."
"I'm really proud of our players," Stoops said. "Our character was tested. Our guys stayed in there and still made plays that made a difference."
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