Comebacks keep No. 12 Sooners in Big 12 title race
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Given a choice, Landry Jones would rather avoid the type of late-game heroics he's had to provide for Oklahoma on two straight Saturdays.
Even so, he's not about to trade away the experiences he's had in rallying the Sooners to back-to-back wins when they simply had to score a touchdown in the final 30 seconds to win.
"You always remember those tight games," Jones said. "You always remember the games where you come from behind and you get a victory."
The Sooners (9-2, 7-1 Big 12) won in the final moments of regulation at West Virginia, then tied the Bedlam rivalry with 4 seconds left before beating Oklahoma State 51-48 in overtime on Saturday night.
After failing to overcome a fourth-quarter deficit and win for five years, Oklahoma has done it in back-to-back games to stay right in the thick of the Big 12 championship chase.
The Sooners can win the title outright by winning at TCU on Saturday if No. 7 Kansas State loses to Texas. They'd earn a split if both teams either win or lose, although the Wildcats would claim the league's automatic BCS berth after winning in Norman in September.
"We need the ball to bounce a little bit in our direction. Yes, we will one week be rooting for Texas and hoping they pull it out," Jones said. "That would be so special to end my career with a ring and get to go play in another BCS game."
Even if K-State wins, the Sooners have a chance at an at-large BCS bid. Only two of the six SEC teams ahead of them in the standings can be picked for BCS bowls, leaving an at-large bid possibly up for grabs. But Oklahoma could see it snatched away if Kent State (17th), Boise State (20th) or Northern Illinois (21st) can get into the BCS top 16 and claim an automatic bid.
"We've got one game to play and have an opportunity to be Big 12 champions again," coach Bob Stoops said. "So we'll just see."
Nothing has been predictable lately with these Sooners, with each of their last two games coming down to fourth-down plays near the goal line. Jones threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills with 24 seconds left in a wild 50-49 win at West Virginia. He then directed a 17-play drive that took over 6 minutes before backup Blake Bell ran in for the tying 4-yard touchdown with 4 seconds left in the Bedlam game.
The Sooners trailed throughout the game but limited Oklahoma State to a field goal in overtime to give Brennan Clay a chance to win it on an 18-yard touchdown run.
"We knew what we were capable of. We don't ever really panic or anything for doubt," Clay said. "We know we can score from anywhere on the field. We just went out there and got the job done."
The last two weeks, that has all started with Jones. He's put together back-to-back 500-yard passing games - just the second and third such games in school history - and come up with some of the most clutch plays of Stoops' tenure.
"It didn't just start last week. Our guys know how good Landry is and how well he throws the ball, which always gives you a chance for big plays and to score quickly," Stoops said. "Of course, last week doesn't hurt that confidence.
"And the way he was throwing, up `til the last drive, the way we he had played all game. What would make you think he was not able to come in and do it?"
Jones set the Oklahoma records with 46 completions and 71 attempts in the game and passed Texas Tech's Graham Harrell to become the most prolific passer in Big 12 history. He's now third on the Bowl Subdivision career passing chart.
"The guy has thrown for over 1,000 yards in the last two games. That's virtually unthinkable," defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "He can do a lot of amazing things. I've said that since I got here. He's unbelievable throwing the football. His endurance and perseverance always pays off."
Jones said he has learned not to ride the highs and lows of the game and that all he has to do is find his comfort level to lead the Sooners. If he's not being genuine, he thinks his teammates notice and he can't be as effective.
"It's not my resiliency. Not one player wins or loses a game for a team," Jones said. "But I think our focus and our toughness as a collective offense does rub off and does infect other people."
That seems to be the case lately. While the defense struggled for a second straight week, there were just enough timely stops to get the win.
Demontre Hurst broke up a third-and-18 pass to set up Jalen Saunders' 81-yard punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter, and the Sooners forced a pair of three-and-outs in the period.
"At the end of the day, you're not even thinking about how many yards you gave up," Hurst said. "You're just thinking about (how) you've got to be that guy to make that play at the end."
In overtime, limiting the Cowboys to Quinn Sharp's field goal provided just the opening the offense needed to claim the lead for the first time all game.
"We just don't give up. It just shows the heart that many guys have on the team," safety Tony Jefferson said. "I think that's what it all falls down to. When it comes to the end of the game, stuff like that, it's about heart."