Bedlam got wild Saturday in Stillwater, but Oklahoma escaped with a 62-52 win. Here are three thoughts from a whiplash-inducing College Football Playoff elimination game.
1. A game that defense forgot in the first half turned on a critical defensive stand. After a targeting penalty on Oklahoma cornerback Will Johnson nullified a Sooners interception that might have allowed Oklahoma—which led by three at the time—to run out the clock, Oklahoma State was granted a first down at the Oklahoma 40. The Sooners, playing two true freshmen at cornerback, forced a turnover on downs against an offense that piled up 661 yards on the day. Sooners tailback Trey Sermon then ran for a 53-yard touchdown that allowed Oklahoma to seal the win and keep its College Football Playoff hopes intact.
After the teams combined for 857 yards and 76 points in the first half, it seemed neither defense would be able to turn the game. In fact, both did as Bedlam barreled toward the finish. The Cowboys only had the ball with a chance to tie or win because of a goal-line stand. Up three with 3:44 remaining, Oklahoma faced second-and-goal from the Oklahoma State six-yard line. Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield dropped back to throw and got sacked by Oklahoma State’s Calvin Bundage. On the next play, Mayfield was intercepted by linebacker Chad Whitener as he tried to hit tight end Mark Andrews over the middle in the end zone.
Mayfield completed 24 of 36 passes for 598 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. Sooners sophomore receiver Marquise “Hollywood” Brown caught nine passes for 265 yards with two touchdowns. Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph completed 28 of 54 passes for 448 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions. Oklahoma State star receiver James Washington caught seven passes for 128 yards with a touchdown, but he was hobbled late by an ankle injury.
2. Oklahoma remains in contention for the College Football Playoff, and given the fact that the Sooners have a non-conference win at Ohio State, a typical amount of chaos over the next four Saturdays would put Oklahoma in an excellent position to make the playoff if it can win its remaining games. That won’t be easy, though. The Sooners face TCU next week in Norman, and they’d still have to win the Big 12 title game against the best conference opponent they’ll have played (whichever team that is).
With Ohio State and Penn State each picking up a second loss on Saturday, it appears the Big Ten could be left out of the playoff if the East champion wins the league title. (An undefeated Wisconsin would make the playoff, though.) That helps the cause of a one-loss Big 12 champ, but Oklahoma might not need any help depending on what happens in the rest of the country. The Sooners don’t need to worry about that, though. They need to worry about winning their next three regular-season games.
3. So will there be another Bedlam in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 2?
If the Cowboys want to see the Sooners again at AT&T Stadium, they’ll probably need to win their final three regular-season games against Iowa State (in Ames), Kansas State (in Stillwater) and Kansas (in Stillwater). TCU (which beat Texas Saturday) would have to have three Big 12 losses for the Cowboys to have a chance at 7–2 in league play.
After a 20-16 loss at West Virginia on Saturday, Iowa State now has two losses in Big 12 play. That’s important, because the Cyclones are the only team to beat the Sooners this season. Now, Oklahoma can guarantee itself a spot in the Big 12 title game by beating TCU (in Norman), Kansas (in Lawrence) and West Virginia (in Norman). That certainly isn’t a gimme, but the Sooners now find themselves in the most enviable position in the Big 12.