By Clay Horning
CNHI News Service
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – If you thought Oklahoma came out on the short end of two games that might have gone ether way earlier this season, merry Christmas.
If you were under the impression the Sooners were just plain unlucky, falling to turnovers against Kansas State and a young quarterback who had the game of his life the day Notre Dame came to town, happy birthday.
If you thought OU’s 50-49 victory Saturday night at Milan Puskar Stadium had a ring of justice to it, the way previous losses did not, you need to get your head examined.
Landry Jones deserved to win. Kenny Stills deserved to win. The offensive line, just as long as it was pass blocking, deserved to win. But, plain and simple, OU did not deserve to win.
This was victory-from-the-jaws-of-defeat stuff. This was are-you-kidding-me stuff.
Even on a day Jones threw for more yards than any Sooner quarterback ever had and Kenny Stills caught four touchdown passes and the Sooners came up with two huge late answers that ultimately handed them their victory, this was a day OU stole its good fortune.
Perhaps only a terrific team can pull such a thing off, so it sure counts, but if OU wasn’t supposed to be a two-loss team entering the game, it certainly was supposed to be one exiting the game.
Mountaineer Tavon Austin had carried the ball 14 times for 103 yards before the day began. He’d also caught 96 passes for 968 yards. It’s like West Virginia saw how OU defended Baylor and decided to make their top receiver a running back. Austin ran 21 times for 344 yards
The first play of West Virginia’s second fourth-quarter drive was a 54-yard run from Austin. The first play of the Mountaineers’ next drive was a 47-yard run from Austin.
In all, West Virginia ran for 458 yards and threw for 320. Almost half a mile.
In the fourth quarter, including its last drive, that included two incompletions, West Virginia snapped the ball 14 times and picked up 279 yards. That’s 19.9 yards a snap.
If OU’s goal down the stretch was to keep the Mountaineers under 20 yards a pop, it pulled it off. But it sure as heck wasn’t winning football.
A week ago Bob Stoops said he loved the yards Baylor picked up on the ground, because it was part of a plan to keep the Bears’ passing game in check.
Stoops has to love winning, but he can’t possibly feel the same way again a week later.
Morgantown’s craziness was right in line with a baffling day of college football.
The Sooners may have continued their lip service to a possible conference crown, but nobody really believed it. Well, don’t look now, but it could happen. OU has lost only to Kansas State and the Wildcats must beat Texas coming up, assuming the Sooners take Bedlam, to keep OU from winning it itself.
But is OU even the Bedlam favorite? It has only lost at home this season and the game is in Norman, and correct me if Oklahoma State isn’t playing like the best team in the conference after whipping Texas Tech on Saturday.
That’s just the Big 12. Nationally, should Notre Dame lose to Southern Cal (and the way things are going, why wouldn’t the Irish lose? Everybody else has), we might just be stuck with another all-SEC national championship game.
College football is insane.
UCLA beat USC and Stanford beat Oregon and Baylor beat Kansas State, and OU should have been upset, too.
But it wasn’t.
Maybe the Sooners weren’t supposed to and maybe they didn’t deserve to, but they bucked Saturday’s trend by winning.
What a day.
– Clay Horning is the sports editor for the Norman Transcript.