NORMAN, Okla. – The plan for Texas Tech was simple. The Red Raiders were going to make Oklahoma quarterback Blake Bell beat them with his arm. They were going to load up the box until they were forced to adjust.
Bell did get rolling. And once he did, so did the rest of the OU offense in a wild 38-30 victory against the 10th-ranked Red Raiders on Saturday evening.
OU (7-1 overall, 4-1 in Big 12) came out with every intention of having a fast start. It simply never materialized. But in the second quarter, the combination of Bell and wide receiver Jalen Saunders went to work.
Bell and Saunders connected six times for 153 yards and two touchdowns in the second quarter, none more pretty than a 76-yard touchdown pass to give OU a 14-7 lead.
“It was just pitch-and-catch,” Saunders said. “I never got down after the last few weeks. I always got to keep positive. I’m not a negative guy.”
With the passing game established, OU stuck to its plan in the second half and went with a physical running attack.
The Sooners rushed for 208 of its 277 yards in the second half, led by Damien Williams who had 97 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns.
But as has been the case all season, it’s not just one guy. Roy Finch rushed for all 55 of his yards in the second half, while wide receiver LaColtan Bester once again provided a spark with a 35-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.
“We wanted to pound the ball,” Williams said. “It was very crucial for the passing game to get going because it got those extra guys out of the box. They didn’t want us to go over the top on them anymore. Any chance you can get some fresh legs, it’s great. We’re all ready.”
But Tech (7-1, 4-1) entered the game undefeated for a reason. Just when it looked like the Sooners were ready to run away with the game with a 21-7 lead, the Red Raiders responded with 17 consecutive points to take a 24-21 lead late in the third quarter.
Bester’s touchdown gave OU the lead for good, while Williams’ second touchdown gave OU a 35-24 lead with 11:04 left in the fourth quarter.
“LaColtan made a huge play,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “We were trying to get the ball out to Blake, they covered him, so LaColtan pulled it down and made a play.”
Bell finished 14 of 22 for 249 yards with the two touchdowns. And for the first time in three games, Bell didn’t commit a turnover.
The Sooners suffered a major loss in a season full of them when team captain senior fullback Trey Millard suffered a torn ACL covering a kickoff in the fourth quarter.
Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb was 33-of-53 for 385 yards with two touchdowns, while three Texas Tech receivers had at least eight catches and 99 yards. Eric Ward led the Red Raiders with nine receptions for 106 yards and two scores.
But the Sooners made Webb pay for some mistakes. OU had three sacks and Aaron Colvin and Gabe Lynn each had an interception.
“We were just trying to make plays,” Colvin said. “I told Gabe before the game tonight that we needed to have big games tonight and make some plays. I’m proud of Gabe.”
The seniors delivered and now OU is right back in the hunt for the Big 12 championship with a showdown against undefeated eighth-ranked Baylor coming up.
“We don’t get down,” Stoops said. “Kept positive. Kept fighting. We’re playing together really well as a team.”