Wrapping Up OU-MU
NORMAN, Okla. - 85,041 saw Oklahoma take down Missouri, 41-31 tonight at Memorial Stadium, and after a wild game, a crazy elevator situation, and one really long traffic jam, here's tonight's wrap up from Norman.
Bob Stoops said it almost immediately at the start of his post-game press conference: OU's fourth quarter play was the difference in this game.
"We didn't play a clean game," said Stoops. "But I'm happy with the way we played in the fourth quarter. Our defense made some big plays, and our offense did an excellent job moving the ball down the field."
Stoops was especially proud of RB Chris Brown, who he called "sensational", and DE Auston English, who received a rating of "unbelievable" by the Sooner head coach.
Stoops also expressed the importance of turnovers, especially when asked about Missouri outgaining the Sooners tonight, 418-384.
"Don't look at the numbers, look at the possessions," said Stoops. "Turnovers change all the numbers. Turnovers change everything in a game."
All in all, it wasn't perfect, but Oklahoma will take the win.
"Any time you win against a good team, that's never a bad thing," said Stoops.
Offense - Give it to Sam Bradford, who kept the Sooners composed, even when down, and who outshone Missouri's Chase Daniel with a 24-34 performance for 266 yards and two touchdowns. Chase Daniel probably lost any Heisman hope tonight, but Bradford will be a Heisman candidate next year for sure.
Defense - You could give it to Curtis Lofton for his 14 tackles and fumble return for the score, but I'll give it to Auston English, the Sooner DE who made Chase Daniel's night miserable. English had two sacks, deflected a ball that was intercepted by Nic Harris, and pressured Daniel into making continuous mistakes.
Play of the Game - Curtis Lofton's fumble recovery and 11-yard touchdown run. The play delivered a final, fatal blow to Missouri's hopes, and was the high point of a very strong fourth quarter for the Sooners.
Stat of the Game - Missouri's 3 interceptions led to 10 Sooner points, and Chase Daniel's fumble led to 7 more points for Oklahoma. 17 points off of turnovers really hurt Missouri, especially when the final margin of victory was just 10 points.
Second Stat of the Game - OU was 10 of 14 on third down conversions, another sign of how a good team is supposed to play during a game of this magnitude.
1) This is my second year covering sports for CSTV.com, and if there is anything I've learned on the road, it's to always take time to talk to staff members, and thank them whenever possible. These are people who work hours on end, without seeing too much of the game, and rarely get the credit. Yet, time after time, they've helped me out in a big way, whether it was giving me a hint on what to ask Steve Spurrier after a South Carolina practice, or giving me player observations from a different perspective. Well, tonight, I was helped again, as the press writers were stuck in the box after the game thanks in part to the elevator (which is the only way to get to the box) not stopping on our floor time and time again. Before the game, I had a friendly conversation with Sooner Club member Jessika Currington, learning more about the OU atmosphere and what the Sooner Club did. Thankfully, when writers were scrambling to find any shortcut to an elevator, I ran into Currington, who gave me the exact best route to an open elevator. The timing couldn't have been better, as I, along with a writer for the OU student paper, made it to our seats just as Stoops was walking in. Many writers weren't able to do that, missing a huge portion of the press conference. So, huge props to Jessika for helping me out of a massive press box traffic jam. And, to journalist and fan alike, if you see an usher or someone working at a game, be sure to give a friendly word. You never know when it pays off.
2) Oklahoma proved that, as of tonight, they're the best team in the Big 12. Forget that Kansas is undefeated, or that Colorado beat the Sooners. Tonight, OU showed that even with turnovers, and a furious Missouri comeback, they could stay composed, get the big plays when they needed them, and win a huge game. The Sooner DL was as strong as advertised, giving Chase Daniel fits that led to what was, by far, the worst game of his senior season. Missouri was impressive at times, especially fighting back in the third quarter. The Tigers proved tonight that they won't quit, and that they won't be intimidated by anyone, anywhere. However, what made this game tough for Missouri was the fact that this game was a new experience for the Tigers. Mizzou hasn't been in the upper echelon of the college football world in a long time, as well as the Big 12, so a game like this felt like a one-in-a-lifetime shot for Missouri (though it might not be). Oklahoma, however, has been enormously successful during the Bob Stoops tenure, so games like these, be it home or away, don't faze them nearly as much. While Mizzou seemed to ride an emotional roller coaster for most of the game, the Sooners stayed even keel. There's a lot to be said for quiet confidence, and OU had that tonight. Bob Stoops said tonight that not once did he tell his team on the sidelines what they needed to do. The team knew what they had to do, knew when they had to do it, and when it was time to produce, or "answer the bell", as Stoops put it, Oklahoma rose to the occasion. It's that quiet confidence, that feeling deep down that no matter what, you're going to find a way to win, that seperates the good teams from the great teams. Missouri is a good team. Oklahoma, though, is a great one.
And with that, we bid you good night from Norman, Oklahoma, where tonight, #6 Oklahoma took care of #11 Missouri, 41-31.