Before we look ahead to what should be a heavily anticipated 2014 season for Oklahoma, one last reflection at the 2013 Sooners that went 11-2 and won the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Sooners Illustrated is doing a countdown of the top 20 plays of OU’s season after looking back at the “OU Film Review” series that ran on SoonersIllustrated.com following every game. Here are plays No. 9-12.
Play No. 12: Sanchez makes his presence known
The game: OU 45, Alabama 31
Key players: DB Kass Everett, DB Zack Sanchez
It’s always said you need to have a short memory to be a defensive back, and no bigger proof of that was with redshirt freshman Zack Sanchez.
He was targeted early and often and beat early and often by Alabama, but he made one of the biggest plays of the half.
OU was blitzing all night and brought another one. And though a senior, McCarron was consistently rattled and uncomfortable by what the Sooners were bringing.
A panicked throw led to Sanchez easily stepping in front and making the interception to set up OU’s final score of the half to make it 31-17.
Play No. 11: Shepard closes the show
The game: OU 35, Notre Dame 21
Key players: QB Blake Bell, WR Sterling Shepard
There will be a lot of talk about the questionable calls made by offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, but he dialed up something special on the final touchdown.
OU’s lead was down to 27-21 and faced third-and-three from its 46. Lined up in a bunch formation, Bell was able to find Sterling Shepard for a crucial first down. And then Shepard just kept going 54 yards for the touchdown that shut the door on the Irish.
Bell is doing a great job of hitting his receivers in stride so they can make a play and this was another example of it.
Play No. 10: Knight finds Shepard for the score
The game: OU 45, Alabama 31
Key players: QB Trevor Knight, WR Sterling Shepard
The OU offense was dormant in the third quarter but woke up again in the fourth quarter. A huge 34-yard reception by LaColtan Bester got things going again, and then it was time for Knight to make another great play.
With second-and-goal, Knight rolled right but couldn’t find anybody. Instead of panicking, he let the play develop knowing a defensive lineman was chasing him. Eventually he was able to set his feet and throw across his body to Sterling Shepard in the end zone, who did a great job of coming back to the ball for the score.
Knight threw for 348 yards and four touchdowns, while Shepard also ran for a score as his versatility came in handy for the Sooners all night.
Play No. 9: Ndulue stones Roland
The game: OU 33, Oklahoma State 24
Key players: DL Chuka Ndulue, S Gabe Lynn
You wouldn’t be wrong to call this the biggest play of the game. Roland gashed the OU defense for a 51-yard gain. Gabe Lynn sized up Roland and whiffed badly. The hustle of Julian Wilson was the only thing that kept that from being a touchdown.
Lynn made up for that mistake with two big stops on first and second down. And then Chuka Ndulue had probably his biggest play as a Sooner.
Facing fourth-and-goal at the 1 yard line, Roland went straight up the gut, only to be met and denied by Ndulue.
“It’s football, you know,” Ndulue said. “I just wanted the chance to make a play. It’s a rivalry game. I was able to make it.”