While the 7-2 Oklahoma Sooners were ranked No. 10 in the College Football Playoff rankings and No. 12 in the AP poll heading into Saturday’s Big 12 Championship Game versus the 8-2 Iowa State Cyclones (No. 6 and No. 8 respectively in those rankings), Oklahoma was heavily favored (-6 on the spread, -220 on the money line as per CBS Sports), and the Sooners pulled off a 27-21 win. But it got pretty close for them, with the Cyclones putting together a final drive that could have won the game. With Iowa State facing 3rd and 11 from the Oklahoma 34, though, the Sooners got two rushers through on Cyclones’ quarterback Brock Purdy, and while Purdy avoided the sack, his off-balance throw downfield was picked off by Tre Brown, giving Oklahoma the victory:
Brock Purdy gets picked off and Oklahoma wins the Big 12 Championship 🏆 pic.twitter.com/JJhjQfuwV8
— ESPN (@espn) December 19, 2020
That marks Oklahoma’s 14th Big 12 championship, remarkable considering that the conference only began play in the fall of 1996. Texas is next with three, while Baylor, Kansas State, and Nebraska (which left for the Big Ten in 2011) each have two, and TCU, Oklahoma State, Colorado and Texas A&M each have one (and those last two schools now play in the Pac-12 and the SEC respectively). Two of those championships are shared: Oklahoma and Kansas State in 2012 and Baylor and TCU in 2014. But Oklahoma has clearly picked up a lot more titles during this particular conference’s history than anyone else.
The win here had a lot to do with the Sooners’ ground game and their defense. Rhamondre Stevenson rushed 18 times for 97 yards (5.4 yards per carry), while quarterback Spencer Rattler added 17 yards and a touchdown on seven carries and Chandler Morris also had a two-yard plunge for a touchdown. Through the air, Rattler added 22 completions on 34 attempts (64.7 percent) for 272 yards and a touchdown. Meanwhile, Purdy completed 27 of 40 passes (67.5 percent) for 322 yards and a touchdown, but he was picked off three times.
This victory still likely isn’t enough to get Oklahoma into this season’s playoff. At the moment, there are three undefeated teams ahead of them (Alabama and Notre Dame, both 10-0, and 8-0 Cincinnati), plus one-loss Clemson and Texas A&M, two-loss Florida and Georgia, and now three-loss Iowa State. The Sooners should jump the Cyclones after this result, and they could definitely jump Cincinnati and the two-loss teams, but it feels like moving ahead of anyone else is going to be tougher. But this still gives the Sooners another conference title and sets them up for a good bowl. And that’s a pretty solid ending to a regular season that started 1-2, with losses to Kansas State and Iowa State.
[ESPN; photo from Kevin Jairaj-USA Today Sports]