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Bedlam! OU wins
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Bedlam! OU wins

Sooners likely will advance to Big 12 title game after 3-way tie

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STILLWATER - Go ahead. Doubt Landry Jones. He just doesn't care.

Jones and his Oklahoma Sooners are co-champions of the Big 12 South, and in all likelihood are on their way to the Big 12 championship game.

Jones, who has struggled in road games, who at times has been awful in the fourth quarter, overcame three first-half interceptions and bombed Oklahoma State 47-41 on Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium.

"We loved his resilience," said OU coach Bob Stoops.

Jones completed 37-of-62 and tied Sam Bradford's school record with 468 yards passing as the Sooners beat the Cowboys for the eighth year in a row and won their eighth South Division championship with a wild fourth quarter.

Jones connected with Cameron Kenney on an 86-yard touchdown on third-and-12 to give the Sooners a nine-point cushion with 3:03 to play. And after Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for a touchdown, Jones found James Hanna behind the OSU secondary for a 76-yard touchdown strike that restored OU's nine-point advantage.

"I was so pleased at how we performed offensively and made big plays in the fourth quarter when we had to have them," Stoops said.

The Boone Pickens Stadium crowd of 51,164 was stunned as the fourth quarter unfolded, turning a 24-24 tie into a final-period, 23-17 shootout. As OSU fans filed out looking exhausted and empty, a couple pockets of Sooner fans stayed long afterward to cheer their team into the chilly night.

And now Jones' career comes full circle. If Sunday night's Bowl Championship Series standings shake out as expected, the Sooners will return to Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where Jones' Sooner career began prematurely (the 2009 season-opener, when he unsuccessfully replaced Bradford) and against the team that force-fed him his worst performance (a five-interception effort last year at Nebraska, the repeat North Division champion).

The win by the Sooners (10-2 overall, 6-2 Big 12), coupled with the loss by OSU (10-2, 6-2) and Texas A&M's triumph over Texas on Thursday, forces a three-way tie atop the Big 12 South.

Like in 2008, the Big 12's tiebreaker system falls to the BCS standings. And like in 2008, the Sooners (ranked 13th going into this weekend and certain to rise) get a Bedlam boost that should give them the advantage over both the Cowboys (ranked ninth and certain to fall) and the Aggies (ranked 17th).

It wasn't all good news for OU. Running back DeMarco Murray, who carried the offense in the first half and finished with 80 yards rushing and 40 receiving, went out with a knee injury.

OU finished with 588 total yards (converting 16-of-27 third-down plays) and utilized a confusing, morphing defensive alignment to hold the nation's most prolific offense to just 379, nearly a season-low and 173 yards below its season average.

"We got in a little bit of an odd front, more than we ever have," Stoops said. "It worked out well for us."

So did the coaching staff's belief in Jones. He went 7-of-13 for 203 yards in the fourth quarter, with the last two throws being the biggest of his life.

Kenney finished with 141 yards on six catches, and Hannah had 130 on four, both career-highs.

The game was tied 24-all going into the fourth quarter, which didn't bode well for OU. Coming into the game, Oklahoma had been outscored 95-32 in the fourth quarter of its first 11 games.

But OU scored on its last five possessions, including three of Jimmy Stevens' career-high four field goals.

"I told him he was the biggest difference in the game, making all his kicks the way he did," Stoops said. "I'm really proud of Jimmy to have hung in through the year the way he has."

Stevens finished 17- and 15-play drives with short field goals early in the fourth quarter, then extended the lead to nine with his fourth kick after a game-changing turnover.

OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden's third interception of the night was caused when defensive end Ronnell Lewis rushed in from the outside and jumped to deflect Weeden's short pass. Linebacker Austin Box made a diving interception at the OSU 18, and four plays later Stevens put the Sooners ahead 33-24 with 5:53 to play.

The Cowboys responded immediately when Weeden zipped a 15-yard touchdown pass to Justin Blackmon to make it 33-31 with 4:06 left, setting up the furious finish.


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Big 12 tiebreaker

OU, OSU and Texas A&M are tied on top of the Big 12 South with 6-2 conference records. The tiebreaker will come down to what is considered the fifth tiebreaker by Big 12 rules, which takes into account BCS standings (OSU entered Saturday ranked No. 9, OU No. 13 and A&M No. 17). The rule reads as follows:

5. The highest ranked team in the first Bowl Championship Series poll following the completion of Big 12 regular season conference play shall be the representative in the Big 12 Championship Game, unless two of the tied teams are ranked within one spot of the other in the BCS poll. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the Big 12 Championship Game.


Big 12 South champions

(Big 12 title game result in parentheses)

1996: Texas (def. Nebraska 37-27).

1997: Texas A&M (lost to Nebraska 54-15).

1998: Texas A&M (def. Kansas St. 36-33).

1999: Texas (lost to Nebraska 22-6).

2000: Oklahoma (def. Kansas State 27-24).

2001: Texas (lost to Colorado 39-37).

2002: Oklahoma (def. Colorado 29-7).

2003: Oklahoma (lost to Kansas State 35-7).

2004: Oklahoma (def. Colorado 42-3).

2005: Texas (def. Colorado 70-3).

2006: Oklahoma (def. Nebraska 21-7).

2007: Oklahoma (def. Missouri 38-17).

2008: Oklahoma (def. Missouri 62-21).

2009: Texas (def. Nebraska 13-12).

2010: TBD (TBD)


Big 12 Championship

South champion vs. Nebraska

7 p.m., Saturday

Dallas Cowboys Stadium

TV: KTUL-8

Tickets: Available through the Big 12 via Ticketmaster; $120, $80, $70, $60 and $50.

From Ticketmaster

Phone: (800) 745-3000

Web: tulsaworld.com/big12tickets

Through OU

(if Sooners advance)

Phone: (800) 456-4668

Web: soonersports.com, $88 per ticket, four tickets per customer

More information: Ticket availability and corresponding charges are dependent on OU advancing to the championship game. If tickets remain, phone sales will be available from noon to 2 p.m. Sunday through the OU ticket office. Tickets purchased will be express mailed.


John E. Hoover 581-8384

john.hoover@tulsaworld.com SUBHEAD: Sooners likely will advance to Big 12 title game after 3-way tie OU outscores Cowboys in wild fourth to win eighth straight vs. OSU Landry Jones throws for 468 yards, four TDs to power OU victory

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