A party ain’t a party without a little ‘Sooner Magic’, and magic is precisely what the Oklahoma Sooners (9-1, 6-1) needed to come all the way back from a 25-point deficit against the Baylor Bears (9-1, 6-1). Fortunately, OU made the proper adjustments at the half to seize a critical 34-31 victory in front of the college football world.
As the game started, there were reports of junior WR CeeDee Lamb listed as questionable for the night. The Sooners’ star playmaker was eventually seen fully dressed out and going through warmups, but ultimately he was a scratch from the game.
That left Jalen Hurts and company to make due without Oklahoma’s most dangerous offensive weapon, and throughout the first half the offense couldn’t have looked much uglier. The Sooners’ senior QB almost appeared lost half the time, while overconfident during the rest. Too often he tried to force plays when they simply weren’t there, and his carelessness for the ball cost OU in the worst way twice. The first was from an awful fumble that Hurts had no business of putting on the ground, and the other was a pick that the Bears returned a long way into the red zone. Both resulted in Baylor touchdowns, and before anyone knew it the score had ballooned to 28-3 in favor of BU.
By the half, the Sooners were able to trim Baylor’s lead to 21, but not only was Hurts going to have to make adjustments in how he managed the game moving forward, Alex Grinch was going to have to adjust his defense. The Bears’ Charlie Brewer was met with almost no resistance — he was able to run and pass at will, and Oklahoma was struggling to stop anything. Of course, the inability to create turnovers persisted through the first two quarters, making the next 30 minutes of the game a virtually impossible task.
However, if college football has taught us anything, it’s that the unexpected typically happens when we least expect it to.
It was Oklahoma’s possession to start the second half, and a methodical drive led by the Sooners’ running game ended with freshman TE Austin Stogner hauling in a three yard TD reception on fourth down.
Even with the success coming out of the break, trailing by two scores against this Baylor team was not where the Sooners wanted to be, and it was going to take a lot more than Lincoln Riley’s offense to make this one a real game again. That’s when it finally happened. For the first time since Sept. 28, the defense finally secured a takeaway thanks to senior CB Parnell Motley and sophomore S Patrick Fields.
The Sooners’ offense was quickly on the march again, but on a goal-to-go situation, Hurts fumbled the ball before breaking the plane. Of course, the Bears recovered it, and the comeback lantern flickered just a little bit more.
Fortunately for the Crimson & Cream, this team doesn’t have an ounce of quit in them, and when the going got tough, they never relented. Another defensive stop and this incredible TD catch-and-run from true freshman WR Theo Wease Jr. made it a one score game with more than half of the fourth to play with.
Baylor has solid talent and great coaching across the board, but down the stretch, Oklahoma simply wanted it more. Another stop for the defense gave Lincoln Riley’s resurgent offense the ball back with all the momentum in the world. It wasn’t always smooth sailing, but when the Sooners needed to convert on third down, or pick up critical yardage, the right plays were called and made more often than not. For the tie, Hurts found TE Brayden Willis all by his lonesome in the end zone.
Kicker Gabe Brkic continues to play a key role in Oklahoma’s games as of late. Tonight, the redshirt freshman came up clutch with two field goals, including the game-winning 31-yarder. On the season, he’s now a pristine 12-12.
No matter how you want to dissect this one, the story of the night has to be Oklahoma’s defense. After one of the worst halves this season, Grinch and his group completely flipped the script and gave Baylor virtually nothing. Forcing punts and turnovers, including this game-sealing INT from Nik Bonitto, was just what the doctor ordered.
‼️NIK BONITTO FOR THE WIN‼️ pic.twitter.com/Go7YSf3pFv— Sooner Gridiron (@soonergridiron) November 17, 2019
This might be the understatement of the year, but while it wasn’t always pretty, Jalen Hurts had a heck of a game considering his No. 1 option was missing from the lineup. In total, the Heisman hopeful completed 30 of 42 pass attempts for 297 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He also logged another 114 rushing yards on 27 carries while coughing it up twice. Meanwhile, Lee Morris and Kennedy Brooks each had a whale of a night with 86 yards receiving and 93 yards rushing, respectively.
Jalen Hurts and Lincoln Riley were fired up after the Sooners comeback pic.twitter.com/0n4c40MbxA— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) November 17, 2019
Up next, the Oklahoma Sooners return to Norman for the final home game of the 2019 season against the TCU Horned Frogs. With a win, OU can clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship game. Kickoff is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m. CT on FOX.
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