October 26, 2013

HD: Big plays beat big playbook

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The top 25 match-up between No. 15 Oklahoma and No. 10 Texas Tech held Big 12 Conference and national title implications didn't even start on time.

Lightning had been spotted in the area as a light drizzle coated Memorial Stadium. The game was pushed back to a 3:45 p.m. start time due to nature's pitching a fit.


video by Eddie Radosevich

There was an hour and 15-minute weather delay before OU could defeat a previously unbeaten Tech 38-30 on Saturday afternoon.

So a big game took on an even larger aura, one Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops admitted to feeling present all week. And make no mistake -- it was a big game.

"Did I go into the week knowing ? Oh yeah," Stoops said. "I may look dumb but I'm not."

Neither is Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, and he was out to prove it. The man with the silver screen looks and a penchant for playing-calling while donning Ray-Bans put a creative game plan on display.

Kingsbury's Red Raiders managed to put 460 yards of total offense and 388 yards through the air in 79 plays while calling everything short of the fumblerooski.

He beat Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) in the red zone with a halfback pass in the first quarter. Later he caught the Sooners off guard with a fake punt return and an onside kick while executing his up-tempo offense.

"We had to make plays to stay in the game, and they did it," said Kingsbury of his players on those trick plays.

Senior safety Gabe Lynn said Kingsbury's play-calling made him more cautious and aware of what Tech was trying to do against the defense.

"When you're playing, it makes you stop and think a little bit," he said. "Some stuff we had to slow down on and just make sure everybody did their job."

The offense Oklahoma's defense competed against looked similar to the one Stoops brought into the league nearly seven years ago. Tech (7-1, 4-1) was highly explosive and playing with a confidence that only unbeaten team do. That showed up on the stat sheet.

Tech wide out Eric Ward -- formerly a Sooner commit -- caught nine passes for 106 yards with two touchdowns and had his way with OU's defensive backs all night.

Tight end Jace Amaro made a home in the middle of the OU defense. He hauled in eight catches for 119 yards, and Tech wide receiver Jakeem Grant -- who seems just small enough to fit in your pocket -- beat Oklahoma for eight catches and 99 yards with a touchdown.

"There were a lot of opportunities we didn't execute on," Ward said. "We didn't play our best game, and we came up against a great opponent who was prepared and executed. They outplayed and out-coached us today."

Even with Kingsbury calling plays like he was working the joysticks of an Xbox controller, it would be co-offensive coordinator Josh Heupel who would prove to call one of the best plays of the night. Ironically, he called it a week earlier, too.

After Oklahoma fought back from a 7-0 deficit to take a 21-7 lead with 9:37 left in the third quarter, Tech scored 17 unanswered points and took its second lead of the game.

With less than a minute to play in the quarter, Heupel called a reverse-pass for senior wide receiver Lacoltan Bester like he did against Kansas. But this time, instead of sophomore wide receiver Sterling Shepard running free down the opposite sideline, junior quarterback Blake Bell was running down that sideline but covered over the top by a safety.

Bester saw the coverage, and went into scramble mode. He zipped, cut and sped his way to the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown run. The Sooners took a 28-24 lead and never looked back.

During the second half, Oklahoma was able to pound the ball against the Red Raider defense and put the game away. Senior running back Damien Williams rushed for 97 yards on 19 carries while senior Roy Finch rushed for 59 yards on eight carries to help ice the game.

"We're far from where we need to be," Finch said. "We have a lot of work to do, and we can't get complacent at all."

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