NORMAN — Oklahoma’s Gabe Brkic, a clutch kicker who entertains during any interview setting, eased Sooner Nation with one sweep of his right leg on Saturday night.

Brkic etched his name in the OU record book by booting a 30-yard field goal as time expired to give the Sooners a knuckle-clinching, 16-13 victory over visiting West Virginia in the Big 12 opener for both schools.

It was the first time in the program’s storied history that an OU kicker has ended a game in regulation with a field goal.

During a postgame radio interview with the OU network, Brkic was asked for his thoughts before entering the field for the final play.

“I wasn’t thinking about nothing,” Brkic told sideline reporter Chris Plank. “… like parallel parking, baby.”

During a recent interview, Brkic had legendary coach Bob Stoops laughing at his answers to questions. Included was advice he received from a family friend about kicking through the uprights – just treat it like parallel parking.

Brkic, true to form, wouldn’t give any clue to what he was thinking after the game.

Did anyone talk to him before the kick?

“Well, they just leave me alone. Brey Walker will give me a ‘yessir.’ He’ll turn around and say that,” the OU kicker said. “Everybody leaves me alone. I just do my job. Lock in mentally, and that’s it.”

After Brkic eased the ball between the uprights, it stopped the barrage of criticism likely felt by Oklahoma following another slumbering effort on offense.

Quarterbacks probably get too much praise when things are going well and too much criticism when an offense struggles.

Spencer Rattler likely felt that tidal wave on Saturday night.

He left Memorial Stadium as a hero after leading the Sooners on their final game-winning drive. The redshirt sophomore took over at his own 8-yard line with 3:39 remaining of a 13-all game.

Rattler methodically took the team downfield, completing all six of his pass attempts on the season’s most important drive. He threw for 54 yards during that drive and set the Sooners up for the final kick.

“It ain’t easy, man. It's a big job, it's not easy, and I'll tell you on the sideline, he was never rattled, not one bit,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said.

It’s often said that a football team’s most popular player is the backup quarterback. On Oklahoma’s roster, that is true freshman Caleb Williams.

The second-quarter chants of “We want Caleb” began from the Oklahoma student section following a Rattler interception. The words weren’t only heard in the stadium, but also by an ABC audience.

Social media was vicious after the Rattler interception, which was the Sooners’ only snap inside Mountaineers territory following an opening touchdown drive.

Former OU stars Tre Brown, Kenneth Murray and Ronnie Perkins immediately showed their support for the quarterback. Murray’s response: “Fake a-- fans smh”

Lincoln Riley was asked about the chants directed at Rattler after the game.

“Yeah it's college football, man. I mean, listen, when you have the expectations that we have here in this program and the expectations offensively, I mean, it's part of it,” Riley said. “It's out of our control. Of course, it always helps us a lot more when our fan base supports us. I'll come out and say that. I want to play better offensively more than anybody out there, but them being behind us is what helps. Spencer handled it. It didn't bother him at all.”

Rattler’s response was similar.

“We kind of just lock in on what we have to lock in on. I don’t really like … I don’t care. We don’t care. It doesn’t matter to us. We’re out here to win a game and they’re in the stands,” Rattler said.

He later added, “You just got to deal with it. I really don’t know why they were doing it.”

After the interception, Riley surrounded the offense around him and gave a passionate speech to his unit.

What was said?

“Just trust in our assignments, executing plays and playing all 11. There have been some times where one person might not be doing their job and it messes up a play, but he just came with a little together meeting about playing together and playing 11,” Robinson said.

West Virginia became the first visiting opponent to lead the Sooners at halftime since Ohio State grabbed a 35-17 heading into the locker room during the 2016 season.

Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) opened the second half with a scoring drive capped by Brkic’s 28-yard field goal to tie the game at 10.

West Virginia (2-2, 0-1) answered with another long, time-consuming drive (11 plays, 5:59) which ended with Casey Legg’s 21-yard field goal.

Oklahoma used its longest drive of the season, a 16-play, 62-yard drive that consumed 8:11 off the clock to tie the game at 13 with 8:52 remaining in regulation.

The Mountaineers methodically moved the ball to the Oklahoma 28 on their ensuing possession, but a snap infraction and bad snap cost the team 28 yards. They were forced to punt, which set up the final drive by Oklahoma.

“We got a break, took advantage of it. I knew we were gonna get another chance either way, but obviously it was a great job defensively holding them out and then offense basically having to go a length of the field drive,” Riley said. “It was just a tremendous close. You see a true team there. Defense holding them out when they're driving. Offense, you haven't played very well at all in the night and then all of a sudden, you've gotta go 80, 90 yards here, and then special teams gotta execute at the end”.

OU’s defense held West Virginia to just 226 yards, the lowest total by a conference opponent since TCU finished with 219 in 2019.

The Sooners have only allowed three touchdown drives in their past three games.

“You have a role in this organization, that’s to get stops. We got enough tonight, obviously there’s a lot of things we’ve gotta be better at, but really taking a personal ownership in our performance,” Riley said. “That’s something that constantly you’re working on and constantly getting ingrained in them. You don’t ride the rollercoaster in terms of what the scoreboard reads.”

The Mountaineers, trying for their first win over OU since joining the Big 12 in the 2012 season, opened the game by eating clock and scoring a touchdown.

Garrett Greene, one–half of West Virginia’s two-quarterback system, scored on a 2-yard run to give his team a 7-0 lead. The Mountaineers took 17 plays and nine minutes, five seconds off the clock during the opening drive.

The Sooners answered the West Virginia scoring drive with a 5-yard touchdown catch by Austin Stogner. It was the H-back’s first touchdown of the season.

Rattler finished 26-of-36 passing for 256 yards with one touchdown and an interception.

The Sooners were held to 313 total yards of offense, including just 57 on the ground. That is the program’s fewest since 2012 (15 rushing yards in a 30-13 home loss to Notre Dame).

- Eric Bailey, Tulsa World

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