Norman, Okla. — The third-placed Oklahoma Sooners survived the skin of their teeth, defeating Nebraska 23-16 at the Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium — on Saturday in a game that came to the wire.
It finally came to an end when Dashon White and Jaden Davis knocked down Rahmir Johnson just off the first-down marker on the fourth down at Nebraska 25.
Here are five quick takeaways from the win:
Crime unsolved but run game soon moves on
Oklahoma’s offense seemed shaky for most of the game, as Spencer Rattler made several questionable decisions especially in the first half and the Sooners struggled to find an offensive rhythm.
In the second half, Oklahoma leaned heavily on its run game, with Eric Gray finishing with a run of 84 yards and Kennedy Brooks with 75 yards and a score.
The Sooners’ offensive line struggled against the Cornhuskers’ front at times, and Bill Badenbaugh made a move, replacing center Robert Kangle with Andrew Reim in the first half.
The Sooners picked things up on the ground after Rem entered.
Oklahoma finished with a total of 408 yards.
DJ Graham Comes Big – But Should He Have It?
Just shy of the midpoint of the fourth quarter, Sooners cornerback DJ Graham leapt pull down an interception that was the most impressive catch Over the years by Oklahoma defensive backs.
The catch drew “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd and social media was lit up with reactions to the play, but finishing the catch for Graham didn’t go in Sooners’ favor.
Graham’s interception came on 4 and 17 from the Sooners 24 for the Cornhuskers.
If Graham had dropped the ball to the ground, Oklahoma would have had the ball.
Instead, the Sooners started with their own 3 and eventually had to punt from there.
Nebraska then began the next campaign at Oklahoma 38 and after three plays, Adrian Martinez hit Omar Manning for a 21-yard touchdown and reduced the Sooners’ lead from 23-16 to 5:38.
‘Let’s go out and do it’:Jeff Kinney grew up as a Nebraska fan, then scored four TDs in Game of the Century
Big time special teams play
After Adrian Martinez took the Sooners’ lead to four with his 4-yard touchdown in the falling seconds of the third quarter, Isaiah Coe came up with a big game that helped build the momentum in Oklahoma’s favor.
Coe bludgeoned his way through the line, raised his hand and swung the ball, which came back to Pat Field about a yard into the end zone.
Fields caught the ball inside the hashmark to his left, and immediately widened to the side before heading overhead.
Justin Broils and Jaden Davis picked up Fields, and were soon joined by Shane Whiter and DJ Graham to escort Fields to the opposite end zone for a two-point conversion.
It was the Sooners’ first defensive two-point conversion since Robert Barnes returned an interception for the conversion in the 2018 game at Texas Tech.
The Sooners had not returned a blocking kick for the conversion since being performed by Jack Sanchez at TCU in 2013.
sluggish first half
The Sooners got off to a strong start on the offensive, with a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a 1-yard touchdown run by Spencer Rattler.
Rattler was strong on the chain, completing 7 of 8 passes for 55 yards on the drive.
But from there, Oklahoma’s offense struggled for the remaining half, with only 120 yards in his four other first-half drives.
Rattler was just 6 of 11 for 50 yards on those drives—34 of those yards coming on his four full runs on the final drive of the half, when Sooners got the ball back on his 10 with only 57 seconds.
Oklahoma’s seven points in the first half were the lowest since Ohio State went into the half in a 3–3 tie on September 9, 2017.
‘One of those rare cases’:What did Oklahoman have to say about OU vs. Nebraska in 1971?
‘They were the best team that day’:OU legends recall 1971 ‘Game of the Century’ loss to Nebraska
honor the past
At halftime, players and coaches from both sides of the 1971 “Game of the Century” were honored on the field.
The game was to coincide with the 50th anniversary of that game, with the 35–31 Cornhuskers winning on November 25, 1971.
The 50-yard lines on both sides, usually painted white on the field, were in the colors of the teams – Oklahoma’s west in red and Nebraska’s east in red. Both were outlined in white.
On Friday night, at a reunion dinner for players from both sides, the design of the planned statue honoring the Selman brothers – Lucious, Dewey and Lee Roy – was unveiled.
The statue is to be dedicated sometime in the next session.
Not all Oklahoma-Nebraska history call-backs in the game were centered around the 1971 game.
Former Sooners basketball star Trey Young was wearing a 70s/80s hat and Malcolm Kelly.
After the 2006 Big 12 championship game – a 21-7 Oklahoma win over the Cornhuskers – Kelly launched into his famous freestyle rap.