No. 5 Oklahoma won its fourth straight Big 12 title and may have punched a ticket to the College Football Playoff.
And the 39-27 victory over No. 14 Texas, its biggest rival, would not have happened without a clutch play from the much-maligned OU defense.
Facing rival Texas at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the Sooners led 30-27 in the fourth but gave the ball back to the Longhorns on a great individual effort by UT linebacker Gary Johnson. At the tail end of a highlight-reel catch-and-run by Oklahoma wideout CeeDee Lamb, Johnson sprinted more than 50 yards to strip Lamb of the ball from behind inside the 10-yard line.
With nine minutes to play, it looked like Texas could be poised to take the lead. But Oklahoma had other ideas. The Sooners entered the game ranked No. 111 nationally in total defense, but defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill dialed up the perfect blitz that ended with defensive back Tre Brown drilling Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger in the end zone for a critical safety.
Brown’s sack extended OU’s lead to 32-27 and forced the Longhorns to kick it back to the Sooners.
From there, Kyler Murray and the OU offense put the game away. The Sooners regained possession with 8:27 to play and marched all the way down the field, converting on three third downs in the process. The first two were on connections between Murray and Lee Morris.
The third was a perfect toss from Murray (379 yards, 3 TDs) to tight end Grant Calcaterra for an 18-yard touchdown on third-and-18.
Calcaterra’s one-handed snag — his second touchdown of the game — extended the lead to 39-27 with 2:00, putting the game out of reach for Texas and clinching another conference crown for the Sooners.
How can Oklahoma make the College Football Playoff?
As the No. 5 team in the country, Oklahoma did what it needed to do to crack the top four. Now, the folks in Norman will be rooting hard for No. 1 Alabama to beat No. 4 Georgia in the SEC title game later Saturday afternoon.
If Alabama beats Georgia, it will essentially lock up the top spot in the playoff field. No. 3 Notre Dame, after its 12-0 regular season, seems like a lock, too, as does No. 2 Clemson as long as it takes care of Pittsburgh in Saturday night’s ACC title game.
That leaves Oklahoma as the likely team to slide into the No. 4 spot.
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