STILLWATER, Okla. – You’re not going to win on the road against your rival as an underdog without taking a couple of chances.
But nobody expected Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops to take that many. With nobody expecting it, it’s a big reason why so many of the gambles paid off in OU’s crazy 33-24 win at Oklahoma State on Saturday afternoon.
The Sooners couldn’t get any sort of offensive rhythm in the first half. Needing a spark, the Sooners got one once again from wide receiver Jalen Saunders in the return game.
Saunders went 64 yards for another punt return touchdown to tie the game 7-7 at the end of the first quarter. Saunders went 81 yards for a score in last year’s Bedlam showdown won by OU in overtime.
“We just weren’t moving things too well,” Saunders said. “I was able to see the hole and make something happen. This is a great team where everybody loves each other.”
But love wasn’t going to get the victory so once again Stoops opted for another risk on special teams. With less than three minutes left in the third quarter and trailing 17-10, OU went back into the bag of tricks on a fake field goal.
Holder Grant Bothun rolled out and found kicker Michael Hunnicutt for an 8-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal.
The play worked so well that it felt like it had to have been in the making for a while. No, OU coach Bob Stoops said that was worked into the game plan Thursday.
“It was an excellent call and an excellent play,” OU special teams coach Jay Boulware said. “As you guys well know it has to be divine intervention to get the exact look that you look for. It was wide open. I thought he could have ran it, and I was happy he it for Hunnicutt’s purposes and getting the love for throwing a touchdown pass.”
Hunnicutt, who played some wide receiver in high school, but that was a long time ago. He never envisioned getting a chance to catch a touchdown, but he said he knew Stoops trusted them to make it happen.
Didn’t mean he wasn’t a little nervous, though.
“I was more excited for this than a normal kick,” Hunnicutt said. “It wasn’t too bad. I was just super excited.”
The play was brought to Boulware’s attention Thursday, but it was something Stoops said he had run before. And he was ready to bring it back out.
“Here we are on our third quarterback and I just thought a field goal wasn’t going to be good enough,” Stoops said. I knew we were going to need more than that. We had a numbers advantage out to that side and the way they were lining up, and it worked out that way.”
Punter Jed Barnett got into the act, too, placing two balls at the 1 yard line on back-to-back punts in the first half.
Wasn’t just special teams, though, as OU also converted all three of its fourth down attempts.
You need to take some chances. OU did, and it’s a huge reason why a BCS bowl is now a possibility.