There are many ways the Bedlam rivalry games can unfold, but no matter how it happens, it usually ends in an Oklahoma victory. That held up again Saturday night as No. 18 Oklahoma used a strong 14-point fourth quarter to pull away from No. 14 Oklahoma State in a 41-13 win to take its sixth straight victory in the Bedlam series.
The Sooners have now won five games in a row after starting 1-2 and have the Big 12 Championship Game in their sights. Two more games against West Virginia and Baylor are all that separate this team from yet another trip to Arlington, Texas.
The start to Bedlam made it seems as though Oklahoma was about to run away with the game. The Sooners scored touchdowns on their first three possessions to go up 21-0, one of which was aided by a short field thanks to an athletic David Ugwoegbu interception. However, Oklahoma State’s top 15 defense showed up after getting burned early. For more than two quarters, the Cowboys held the Sooners to just six points.
But then, a steady dose of running back Rhamondre Stevenson paid dividends for OU. Stevenson, who had been bottled up most of the night, started breaking off bigger runs and finished with 141 yards on 26 carries. That also allowed Oklahoma to get more creative and aggressive with its play calls. The first touchdown in the fourth quarter came on a fake reverse that hit H-back Jeremiah Hall out of the backfield for a 30-yard score. The second was a fourth-down toss from Spencer Rattler to Theo Wease for 31 yards to put the game away for good.
Oklahoma State’s offense was never able to get going. Quarterback Spencer Sanders was knocked out in the first quarter with an apparent head injury. That meant freshman Shane Illingworth was thrust into duty, but he finished the night 5 of 21 passing for 71 yards and a touchdown. Though the Pokes coaching staff was initially cautious with putting Sanders back in the game, he reentered in the fourth quarter. By then, it was too little too late.
Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy falls to 2-14 all-time against Oklahoma. Here are the takeaways from tonight’s game:
1. Stevenson was the MVP
The Sooners’ ground game was already improving by the time Stevenson returned from his NCAA suspension against Texas Tech late last month, but he’s launched it into another level. Stevenson was bottled up as a runner early on Saturday, but credit Riley for refusing to abandon the run. It helped that Oklahoma got out to a big lead, but eventually the 2-yard Stevenson runs became 9-yard runs, and those became chunk yards.
The run game also opened up Oklahoma’s offense in more aggressive situations. The first of two fourth-quarter touchdowns started with Stevenson taking a direct snap before giving the ball to Rattler, who faked a reverse and hit Jeremiah Hall for the touchdown. The second, a touchdown from Rattler to Theo Wease, was on a fourth-and-4 when running Stevenson was very much a possibility. Without the ground game ramping up, Oklahoma isn’t pulling away like it did.
2. Illingworth wasn’t ready to lead a comeback
I’m not saying Illingworth is a bad player, though he did have a bad night. But that’s largely because of Oklahoma’s…