Well, maybe Stevens was right.
He received the team’s first game ball following the Sooners’ 47-41 victory over the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Saturday in Stillwater because he tied a single-game career high of making all four of his field goal attempts and set a career high with 17 points, which also ties a school record for points in a game.
But, more importantly, OU needed all four of the Sooners’ field goals – from 29, 24, 31 and 26 yards, respectively – to defeat the Cowboys and advance to the Big 12 Championship game.
“Jimmy was huge,” said junior linebacker Travis Lewis. “Jimmy’s probably the reason why we were in that game.”
Stevens’ field goal at the end of the first half put the Sooners up by a touchdown, and his three in the fourth quarter helped extend their lead all the way to a two-possession game that the Cowboys could not overcome.
His performance against Oklahoma State was not a one-time thing. Stevens went three-for-three in field goal attempts the week before against Baylor.
“He’s been so consistent these last two weeks,” Lewis said. “We haven’t had consistency at that position. So for him to silence some doubters and really step up the last two or three weeks and really make clutch kicks is huge.”
Honestly, Stevens has not had a bad season despite receiving more jeers than cheers and not starting the season as the Sooners’ No. 1 kicker. He has made 14-of-17 field goal attempts, both the makes and attempts are career highs, and boasts a career 78.6 field goal percentage, which is second to former OU kicker Garrett Hartley’s school record of 81 percent.
But people are only going to focus on the three field goals he has missed.
He missed a 42-yarder in a two-point victory over Cincinnati and a 36-yarder in the lopsided victory over Texas Tech, but those misses were virtually forgotten and of little consequence because OU won.
Stevens’ other miss is the one that made people act like the Queen of Hearts and call for his head. He missed a 30-yarder against Missouri during a game where OU failed to convert three of its red-zone possessions into points.
Other than that miss, Stevens has not cost the Sooners any games, and it would be unfair to blame that loss on his miss.
It is fair to say that Stevens has been a valuable part to the team rather than just an option that the Sooners have to settle for because they have no one else.
That is a weird concept to swallow because of all the complaints about Stevens since he took over the kicking duties in 2008, but he is a different kicker this year and it only took him having to make clutch kicks to help deliver a Big 12 South title for anyone, media included, to recognize it.