The Tiger’s magical run came to an abrupt halt at the Big 12 Championship Game in San Antonio. At about the same time West Virginia’s BCS title chances slipped away, so did the Tigers as they failed to score more than 30 points for the first time this season, as they lost 38-17. Now their bowl fate rests in the hands of the bowl committees.
The crowd at the Big 12 Championship Game in San Antonio certainly favored the Sooners. They were loud the whole night and they quickly let themselves be heard as the Tigers went three and out on a dropped pass by Jeremy Maclin, a failed screen pass that resulted in a loss of 8 and an incomplete pass over the middle against tight coverage.
The Sooners looked like they were going to be very cautious with their redshirt freshmen quarterback Sam Bradford. His first two pass attempts were screen plays. The first Missouri missed a tackle resulting in a first down by receiver Juaquin Iglesias, and then the defense stuck their tackles. Back to back penalties (delay of game and false start) put Bradford in a third and long and his pass on third down missed his target.
The Tigers managed a first down on their second drive, a twelve yard pass from Daniel to Jeremy Maclin. Big 12 defensive player of the year Curtis Lofton, hit Daniel as he ran the option on 3 rd and 7 forcing a punt.
The Sooners hurt themselves on their second drive of the game getting called with a personal foul leaving Bradford in another 3 rd and long situation. On the punt, the Tigers got called for an illegal block in the back, but there was also a personal foul called again on the Sooners. This would give MU the ball at their own 32 with 7:06 to play in the first quarter.
The first eight minutes of the game dominated by the defense on both sides of the ball, much like the MU-KU game. The biggest thing I saw early was just how much faster OU was on defense than KU. The close the gaps on runs quicker and play much tighter coverage in the secondary.
Then the Tigers got rolling as Daniel hit Jeremy Maclin for 15 yards. A pass interference on the next set of downs gave Missouri another opportunity and Daniel found All American tight end Martin Rucker who made a great open field move to gain 17. The first of many drives would stale and Missouri settled for a Jeff Wolfert 29 yard field goal and Mizzou grabbed the 3-0 lead.
On OU’s ensuing drive, Bradford finally opened up passing game off the play action fooling cornerback Darnell Terrell as OU receiver Malcolm Kelly made a great diving catch to set up first and goal. Another false start penalty backed OU up to the 12. A play action pass to Joe Jon Finley gave the Sooners a 3 rd and goal from the three as the first quarter came to an end.
On the first play of the second, the Sooners went pass fake, then handed up the middle to running back Chris Brown who bounced outside left tackle to put the Sooners on top 7-3 with the extra point. The Sooners drove 67 yards in 8 plays.
Next drive, Daniel’s running got the Tigers deep into OU territory. The drive started at the MU 24. Daniel found Tommy Saunders wide open for a 21 yard play on 3 rd and 10. In the drive, Daniel had runs of 8 and 20 which got the Tigers back in the red zone. On another 3 rd and 9 from the 14, OU was flagged with a pass interference. On 2nd and goal from the 9, Daniel ran again right up the middle to within literally inches of the goalline. I am the only one asking why Pinkel refuses to line Daniel up under center for a sneak? The Tigers instead try to runs out of the shotgun, including a Daniel keeper and were unable to score, so they settled for a chip shot field goal by Wolfert to make the score 7-6 with 9:46 to play.
After the teams traded punts, OU’s next drive started at midfield and they quickly picked up 18 yards on a swing pass to their running back Chris Brown. Bradford completed a big 3 rd down completion to Malcolm Kelly to get the ball to the Mizzou 19. Allen Patrick picked up 11 yards on a first down run to set up first and goal from the MU 8, they continued to run…three more runs capped by Chris Brown’s second touchdown run of the game put OU up 14-6 with 3:41 to go in the first half. Another 8 play drive.
Up to that point, I had been really impressed with OU’s pass rush and the job their secondary was doing taking away the long routes. They were flushing Daniel out of the pocket and not giving him any options to throw down field. On the kickoff, Maclin was wrapped up at the 16 to start Mizzou’s next drive with 3:34 to go in the half. A loss of 6 on first down on a Maclin run up the middle, then Daniel found Maclin for 14 to set up a first down pass to Tommy Saunders. I noticed the Tigers ran slants on those two passes. Then Danario Alexander picked up 19 yards on a reverse and Mizzou was moving at their own 47. Daniel went back to Rucker who picked up 14, then another 15 on a personal foul facemask gave Mizzou the ball at the 25. Missouri used a timeout with 1:03 to play and a 3 rd and 11 coming up from the 26. With Daniel flushed again, he hit Will Franklin for 14 yards and a first down. Jared Perry caught a slant to the five and Tigers went with Daniel up the middle again and this time he made it all the way. The Tigers ran a reverse Daniel handing off to Earl Goldsmith, who flipped to Maclin, who found Rucker wide open for the two point conversion to tie the game at 14 with :14 seconds left. That’s how the first half would end.
Daniel, the team’s leading rusher with 40 yards on 7 carries. Maclin had 6 catches with 49 yards, but Rucker had two big cathes for 30 yards. Daniel just 13 of 23 for 123 yards. Sam Bradford, conservative passing was 11 of 15 with 130 yards, 47 coming on the one long pass they attempted.
The play of the game may have come when Bradford found Manual Johnson for 17 yards on 3 rd and 10. A late hit by Darnell Terrell following, gave OU the ball on Missouri’s 44. On the next play, running back Allen Patrick busted one up the middle for 40 yards to give the Sooners first and goal from the four. On third and goal, after stopping Chris Brown on two runs up the middle, the Sooners repeated their success on running to the outside as Patrick took it to give OU the lead with 4:04 to play in the 3 rd .
The question now was could Chase Daniel lead the Tigers back again? The answer may have been answered when Curtis Lofton picked off a tipped pass on the Tigers 2 nd play when the ball bounced off of Martin Rucker’s finger tips at the MU 33 and Lofton returned it down to the seven. Instead of running, the Sooners with a great call, a play action fake to find tight end Jermaine Gresham wide open for a 28-14 lead with 2:32 to go.
From there on, it continued downhill for the Tigers and frustration started to show when early in the fourth quarter Daniel, ripped off his helmet and stormed the sidelines, then threw his helmet to the ground after a three and out. Cornerback Darnell Terrell had a rough. He got beat deep in the quarter which set up OU’s first score, got flagged with two pass interference calls and a late hit out of bounds.