John Klein: OSU two fourth-down plays away from much different fate
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Sunday, November 25, 2012
11/25/12 at 5:26 AM
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Go to John Klein's Blog Original Print Headline: OSU two plays away from a different fate
NORMAN - There are two plays from this season that separate Oklahoma State from another great year.
Two fourth downs. Two must-make plays by Oklahoma and Texas.
If not for those two plays, the view of OSU's season would be far different.
But those plays happened, and the Cowboys will find themselves in some bowl, far from where they could be, when this season ends.
"This program is at a different level (than it used to be)," said OSU coach Mike Gundy. "When you lose this kind of game, it's harder on you."
The 51-48 overtime loss at Oklahoma on Saturday is likely to hang around for a while.
"When you lose, it is frustrating," said Gundy. "Our guys competed. They (OU) just made the last play.
"I think there's a respect present (in this game) that never was before."
There should be. This is the third straight year that Oklahoma State either had a chance to win or did win in the fourth quarter in Bedlam.
That's a difference.
"It is a gut-wrencher when you lose a game like this," said OSU defensive coordinator Bill Young. "Anytime you lose a game like this in overtime, it is awful.
"This program is really on the rise. They (Sooners) have a lot of ability. This program is in great shape."
Oklahoma, just like Texas did earlier this season, converted a fourth down at the end of the game. Then OU punched in a winning touchdown in overtime of a thrilling game.
"Oklahoma is a good team," said OSU quarterback Clint Chelf. "They made a lot of plays. We made a lot of plays.
"We just came up short. There were a lot of big plays for both teams. We just have to keep grinding."
It says much about the new level of Oklahoma State football that the Sooners celebrated long and hard after the victory, just as Texas did earlier this season.
When OU and Texas need a dramatic rally, and then celebrate like crazy for a victory over OSU, you know Oklahoma State is in a far different place now than when Gundy became head coach.
Just like against the Horns, the Cowboys were within one fourth-down stop of beating the Sooners. They didn't do it.
"We just couldn't put up a stop late in the game," said Gundy. "We just came up short."
In a thrilling finish to Bedlam, OU punched in a fourth-down touchdown with four seconds left then answered OSU's field goal with a TD in overtime.
Texas and Oklahoma. Two powerful programs. Pushed to the limit and feeling fortunate to win.
"That one hurts just about as bad as this one," said OSU running back Joseph Randle.
This was a game of wild emotional swings and huge plays.
Oklahoma found itself in a 14-point hole twice in the first half but rallied to tie the game at 24-24 at halftime.
Then, OSU got back up 38-27 late in the third quarter.
The fourth quarter was wild.
The Sooners tied it at 38-38 early in the fourth on a punt return and then Chelf answered immediately by driving the Cowboys back to a 45-38 lead.
The drama was set with six minutes to go. OU answered in the most dramatic possible way.
The Sooners went 86 yards in 17 plays and used virtually the entire clock to tie the game.
The tying run was a 4-yard dive by Blake Bell on fourth down. It was OU's last shot. The Sooners made it and eventually won.
"We just didn't get it done," said OSU defensive end Nigel Nicholas. "OU did a great job of protecting Landry (Jones). OU did a great job of executing their offense.
"I really feel like we can beat any team in the country. But it is just so disappointing to lose to your rival."
Jones was fantastic. He threw for 500 yards (46-of-71). He may be the lightning-rod for criticism by some OU fans, but he has rescued OU the past two weeks in dramatic last-second victories over West Virginia and Oklahoma State.
"He played phenomenal," said Young. "He played as well as any quarterback we have ever played against."
However, Chelf, who started the season as OSU's third-teamer, was equal to the challenge. He repeatedly kept answering OU's big plays with big plays of his own.
Chelf hit 19-of-37 for 253 yards and a touchdown. He also ran for 63 and caught a pass for 36 yards.
"It's pretty obvious we're headed in the right direction," said Chelf.
But the Cowboys just aren't quite there, yet.
"They made one more big play than us," said Chelf.
Now the Cowboys will try to close strong when they go to Baylor this week, most likely with the Alamo Bowl, and even perhaps more depending on what Texas does, on the line.
But this won't be easy to put in the rear-view mirror.
"We just have to learn from it and get better," said Gundy.
Just like they have in the recent past.
"We just have to get over it and move on," said Chelf.
OSU's QB Clint Chelf after losing in Norman. STEPHEN PINGRY/Tulsa World