There was one game that mattered more than the rest Saturday, and though it had an impact on the College Football Playoff picture, the stakes at this season’s Bedlam transcended national titles. In the final iteration of Oklahoma-Oklahoma State, the Cowboys sent the Sooners packing to the SEC, 27-24, and stomped out any hopes OU had of the playoff.
While the in-state rivals surely will meet again, Mike Gundy and Okie State won’t be in a rush to give the traitors from Norman another shot at the title. It’s a level of pettiness that’s only healthy in the arena of fandom and one that should be celebrated considering OU’s motivation for jumping conferences.
Perhaps the most karmic moment came on a third and 12 deep in OSU territory late in the fourth quarter, with OU trailing 27-21. Dillon Gabriel threw a fade to the back right corner of the endzone, and receiver Drake Stoops got mugged, literally tackled, with the ref staring right at him.
It was the kind of non-call that immediately sends conspiracy theorists’ antennae skyward. Big 12 crew gives Oklahoma a swift kick to the groin in the biggest spot possible? Sure. Sooner coach Brent Venables ended up kicking a field goal, but like last week, even when OU got the ball back with 1:46 remaining needing only three more to go to OT, nobody thought they were going to execute.
The Sooners didn’t as the Cowboys earned a stop on fourth and five to seal the game. After a couple of kneel-downs, the Stillwater crowd then spilled onto the field, and are probably still spilling drinks around campus.
It was your typical rivalry game of twists, turns, and big plays, but Ollie Gordon II’s two-touchdown, 136-yard performance will forever be immortalized in Pokes’ lore. It was Gundy’s 100th Big 12 win, and after the game he told ESPN that the win ranked at the top of his Ws in this currently defunct series.
“It’s a big game,” Gundy said. “And it’s good for the Oklahoma State people to finish Bedlam with a win. Period.”
From a 2023 football standpoint, the Sooners’ second loss takes them out of the CFP picture, and puts any chance a Big 12 title game berth in the hands of Texas, and Oklahoma State, who sit atop the conference. To be fair, the way the Sooners, and Gabriel have been playing, they’re not winning anything of significance.
The Cowboys, on the other hand, are three games from reprising their spoiler role against the other deserter, should the Longhorns also avoid self-destructing. While a Big 12 title and a middle finger to Texas — the team palling with your longtime rival to the SEC — would be nice, it won’t be sweeter than Saturday.
Two best quarterbacks in college football bow out
Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels were finally betrayed one too many times by their respective defenses. In two games that appeared to be heavyweight prize shootouts after a half, they quickly turned into referendums on why USC and LSU can’t be taken seriously.
The Tide knocked Daniels out of the game and turned the final quarter into a formality for a 42-28 win over LSU. The Huskies put the Trojans in a trailing position that they couldn’t overcome and rode UW’s Dillon Johnson to victory. The running back had a career night with 256 yards and four touchdowns on 26 carries.
Alabama and Washington made enough plays on both sides of the ball to further their march toward the CFP, but don’t fool yourself into thinking Michael Penix Jr. and Jalen Milroe are in the same hemisphere as Williams and Daniels. Despite Brian Kelly and Lincoln Riley being in the second season of a new job, both will be kicking themselves for squandering these extremely talented quarterbacks’ final years.
That’s also been the rub on Kelly and Riley: there’s always an Achilles heel, and it’s always glaring. It’s also funny how much the perception varies between the two visored coaches. Anyway, it doesn’t matter, at least not this year.