Oklahoma Wins Big-12 Championship

ARLINGTON, Tex. (www.soonersports.com) – Oklahoma (No. 9 , No. 10 AP) is keeping the conference title in the Big 12 family. Nebraska is headed to the Big Ten with one more sour championship-game memory.

Travis Lewis had an interception in the end zone and recovered two fumbles, and the Sooners rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat Nebraska 23-20 on Saturday night in the Big 12 championship, the Cornhuskers’ last stand in the conference.

Oklahoma won its seventh Big 12 title — more than twice as many as any other school — and the seventh straight by schools from the South Division. With Nebraska bolting to the Big Ten and Colorado off to the Pac-12, there won’t be another Big 12 title game in the immediate future.

“It’s pretty special to have the last championship and to add to the number we already have is really pretty special for sure,” coach Bob Stoops said.

Landry Jones threw for 342 yards and a touchdown and also sneaked in for another score from 1 yard out as the Sooners (11-2) made the second biggest comeback in Big 12 championship history. Colorado came back from 19 down to Texas in 2001.

The No. 13 Cornhuskers (10-3) self-destructed, squandering a 17-0 lead with four turnovers and getting shut out in the second half for the first time all season.

“This is a great feeling. This is my third Big 12 championship and this one’s definitely the sweetest,” Lewis said. “The fashion that we won this game in, we always pride ourselves that defense wins championships. I felt like we got rattled a little early, we gave up some big plays but we never panicked.”

Jimmy Stevens delivered the game-winner, a 27-yard field goal, with 8:28 to play after Lewis’ third takeaway.

Nebraska, which lost 13-12 to Texas on a field goal after 1 second had been put back on the clock in last year’s title game, suffered another tough defeat — without a close call at the end.

The Huskers had to punt it away with less than 4 minutes left after Taylor Martinez was sacked on third-and-8 from the Oklahoma 39-yard line. Alex Henery had already hit a championship game-record 53-yard field goal.

“We thought we were in range. That is the shame of it,” said coach Bo Pelini, who even lamented deciding not to let Henery try a 62-yard field goal after the sack.

“But [we] can’t take a sack in that situation.”

Nebraska got the ball back with 1:46 to play at their own 41-yard line but couldn’t convert a first down, with Martinez getting sacked a seventh time on the final drive.

“We wanted this bad,” Lewis said. “This has been a long season. We have been tested in so many ways. We have been with our backs against the wall. We came out here and the defense totally dominated.”

The longtime rivals had played each other in 71 straight seasons as members of the Big Six and as national powerhouses in the Big Eight before being split up into separate divisions in the Big 12. That divide, along with down stretches for both programs, took some of the sizzle out of one of college football’s most storied rivalries.

This was only the second time Nebraska and Oklahoma met in the Big 12 championship game after deciding the Big Eight title 31 times in 36 seasons. Now, they don’t figure to meet again unless it’s in a bowl game, though the schools are working on scheduling a series starting in 2020.

“Beating Nebraska, like this, in this game? Are you kidding” Stoops said. “It’s just great to get another championship.”

Nebraska will likely fall into the Insight or Alamo Bowl.

Martinez, who didn’t play in the Huskers’ North-clinching win against Colorado eight days earlier, had 143 yards passing with an interception but wasn’t taking the snaps in some key moments down the stretch.

After Martinez finally lost a fumble — he had put the ball on the ground four times — the Huskers turned to Rex Burkhead in the wildcat formation. But after Burkhead picked up 24 yards on his first two carries, he couldn’t handle a shotgun snap, and Lewis pounced again.

Cameron Kenney made a 23-yard catch on third-and-24 and then made an 11-yard catch to move the chains on fourth down, setting up Stevens’ field goal that put Oklahoma ahead for the first time in the game.

Nebraska shot out to a 17-0 lead on Roy Helu Jr.‘s 66-yard touchdown run, Henery’s record-setting field goal and a 5-yard touchdown pass from Burkhead to Kyler Reed out of the wildcat. The last score came after Pelini made a successful challenge and had Courtney Osborne’s fumble overturned.

Oklahoma answered right back with Jones’ 49-yard TD strike to Kenny Stills, and Lewis came up with an interception in the end zone against Martinez and then scooped up Helu’s fumble to set up a field goal and Jones’ touchdown run 58 seconds apart for the Sooners.

“It just shows the character of our team,” Jones said. “Being down 17-0, [we] fight back into the game and finish it off. That was a great win for us.”

Postgame Quotes

Oklahoma 23, Nebraska 20 | December 4, 2010 | Arlington, Texas

Head Coach Bob Stoops
“At halftime, we had given up two big running plays and that was about it. We worked so hard and I told the kids to feel positive about it because we weren’t far off.

(On being down 17;0): “I told them to just keep playin’ ball. That’s what we told ‘em before the game, just keep playing because it’s gonna be a long night.”

“It’s really special. I feel fortunate to be with these kids and these schools. And beating Nebraska, like this, in this game? Are you kidding?. It’s just great to get another championship.”

Sophomore DB Demontre Hurst
(on breaking up final pass) “I was just anticipating. I knew where they were gonna go and I tried to make a good play. I made a good play … and we’re Big 12 champions.

(on the defense): We had some mistakes, gave up some big plays early in the game and we had to bounce back. We just kept our heads up and things turned out good.”

(on the pressure on Nebraska’s QBs and the sacks): “The D line was huge, the biggest part of the game, getting pressure on their quarterback. That made things a little easier on us in the secondary.”

Senior DE Jeremy Beal
(On the defensive line) “JaMarkus (McFarland), Stacy (McGee), Frank Alexander, Pryce Macon they all did a great job tonight. Hats off to those guys. The number of sacks we had (7-48 yds) that’s unheard of. Offense played great, defense played great, great game all-around.”

(On being down 17-0): We kept on fighting, just kept on fighting. There were a lot of emotional waves and luckily we came back and won.

Sophomore QB Landry Jones
“I am speechless right now. First of all I want to thank God for giving me this opportunity, I know it sounds cliché. He has given me so many things right now I just want to give him praise. I can’t say enough about him and what he’s done for me. My teammates – it just shows the character of our team. Being down 17-0, fight back into the game and finish it off. That was a great win for us.”

On playing calm at the end of the game:
With the way our defense plays, our offense is never out of the game. I can’t say enough about what Nebraska’s defense does and it’s offense does.

Senior WR Cameron Kenney
On winning the last Big 12 Championship:
“It means everything. We came here to work and everyone did their job and we succeeded.
It’s just a great feeling knowing that we successfully played the game. Against Nebraska you have to be great.”
On the defense’s last stop:
“It was everything. We knew we had to bring everything we had and give it all we got. Everyone stepped up.”

Junior LB Austin Box
Talking about the defense:
Coming out early, I think we were a little tentative. They made some plays on us, not to take anything away from them. When the game got going and the defense settled in and started making some plays we were playing our kind of defense.

Two stops at end of fourth Q:
That’s huge. We knew with about three minutes left with their offense backed up, we’d have to make more stops to win the game. So we just trust in our defense, trust in our coaching and went out and executed and made the plays.

On bowl game:
It’s a long season. Right now I’m kind of worried about having a few days off to kind of rest up. But we know winning this game will have a berth. And whoever they throw at us, we’ll be ready.

Junior LB Travis Lewis
On the intense defense tonight:
We wanted it. We wanted this bad. This has been a long season. We have been tested in so many ways. We have been with our backs against the wall. We came out here and defense totally dominated.

Fitting the last play is that it’s a defensive stop:
It shows what kind of guys we have on this team. WE have a lot of guys with character, a lot of guys that really wanted this and we’re bringing the Championship back home.

This is my third Big 12 Championship and this means the most. All we went through, all of the controversy. To win this game in the fashion that we did is huge.

On his three takeaways:
They gave me the opportunities and I took advantage of them. I missed a lot of tackles and I gave up some big plays. But we never gave up and kept fighting.

Game Notes

Oklahoma 23, Nebraska 20 | December 4, 2010 | Arlington, Texas

Oklahoma Team Notes
• With the win, Oklahoma won its league-leading seventh Big 12 Championship, including four of the last five Big 12 titles. Oklahoma will make its 44th bowl appearance, and fifth appearance in the Fiesta Bowl.
• OU is now 45-38-3 all-time against Nebraska, 38-6 against the Big 12 North and 7-1 in the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma is now 2-0 against the Cornhuskers in the Big 12 title game, the Sooners beat Nebraska 21-7 in the 2006 title game in Kansas City.

• Head Coach Bob Stoops is now 128-31 overall in his 12th season at OU. He is 84-19 against the Big 12, 7-1 in the Big 12 title game and 6-1 against Nebraska.

• OU has forced at least one turnover in 140 of Stoops’ 158 games and has at least one interception in 103 of the last 138. The Sooners forced a season-high six turnovers in tonight’s game.

•Eight different receivers caught a pass for Oklahoma in tonight’s game, it is the eighth time this season that at least eight different receivers have a reception and the 10th that at least seven receivers have caught a pass. OU has had seven games with at least nine receivers catching a pass. The season high came against Florida State when 12 Sooners had receptions.

• The Sooners’ defense broke up five passes against Nebraska to bring OU’s season total to 63, a team-best since the current school record of 110 was set in 2000.

• The OU defense had a season team-high seven sacks against Nebraska. The team’s previous best was four, set against both Florida State and Iowa State. OU also had a season-high 14 tackles-for-loss, the third time to reach double digits this season (Cincinnati and Missouri).

Oklahoma Individual Notes
Frank Alexander
• Frank Alexander set a career high with four tackles for loss on the night. Alexander’s previous high of three came this year against Iowa State.
Ryan Broyles
• With his 47-yard reception in the third quarter, Ryan Broyles surpassed Mark Clayton as the OU career receiving yards leader and the single-season receiving yards leader. Broyles finished the night with three receptions for 61 yards to give the junior 3,259 career receiving yards and 1,452 on the season.

Landry Jones
• With his start tonight, Landry Jones becomes just the 10th quarterback in OU history to start at least 20 consecutive games.

• With his 49-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills, Jones is tied with Jason White (2004) at No. 4 for single-season touchdowns by an OU quarterback with 35. Jones trails Sam Bradford at No. 1 and No. 3 with 50 (2008) and 35 (2007), respectively, and Jason White at No. 2 with 40 (2003).

• Jones had 23 completions on the night to up his season total to 371, breaking the OU single-season completions record. Current OU quarterbacks coach, Josh Heupel previously held the record with 349 completions in 1999.

• Jones also moved to No. 2 on the OU career completions list with 632. Jones passed Jason White’s 627 (1999-04) and trails Josh Heupel’s 654 (1999-00).

• With his 41 attempts, Jones now has 568 attempts on the season, breaking the previous school record of 553, set by Josh Heupel, in 1999.

Cameron Kenney
• Kenney tied his career-high for receptions in a game tonight with six grabs for 65 yards, it is the third time the senior has recorded six catches in a game.

Travis Lewis
• With his interception in the second quarter, Lewis tied Sam Allen (1951-52) for the OU record for career interceptions by a linebacker with eight. It was Lewis’ third interception of the season.

• Lewis also recovered two fumbles in tonight’s game, the first and second of his career.

Pryce Macon
• Macon recorded a career-high five tackles for loss in the first half (-24 yards), becoming just the ninth player in Oklahoma history with at least five s in a game. Macon’s previous best was 2.5 tackles for loss of 11 yards against Texas Tech on Nov. 13, 2010. Cedric Jones holds the Oklahoma record with six s vs. Texas Tech in 1994.

• Macon also had a career-high three sacks in the game, becoming the 22nd Sooner with at least three in a game and the first since Jeremy Beal accomplished the feat in back-to-back games against Tulsa and Miami (2009).

DeMarco Murray
• With his five receptions for 60 yards against Nebraska, Murray moved to No. 14 in the OU career receiving list with 1,572 yards. He finished with 60 yards receiving, the fifth time this season he eclipsed 50 yards.

Kenny Stills
• Stills made a 49-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter and has now scored a touchdown in three of the last four games. The 49-yarder ties for his second-longest reception this season. His career long is 59 yards against Texas Tech. Stills also had a 49-yarder against Baylor. All three were scoring strikes.

• With his three receptions for 83 yards, Stills set the Oklahoma record for receiving yards in a season by a freshman with 713 yards, previously held by Ryan Broyles with 687. Stills entered the game holding the OU record for receptions in a season by a freshman and now has 53 on the season. Stills is second in school history for touchdown receptions by a freshman with five, trailing Broyles who had six in 2008.

By the Numbers
709 – Kenny Stills now owns the OU record for receiving yards in a season by a freshman with 709. Stills entered the game trailing Ryan Broyles at 678.
140 – The Sooners have forced at least one turnover in 140 of Stoops’ 158 games, with at least one interception in 103 of the last 138.

63 – The OU defense has now broken up 63 passes this season, a team-high since the current record for passes broken up was set at 110 in 2000.

35 – Landry Jones is now tied with Jason White (2004) for single-season touchdowns by an OU quarterback with 35, after throwing a 49-yard TD to Kenny Stills in the first half.

8 – Travis Lewis is now tied with Sam Allen (1951-52) for career interceptions by a linebacker at OU with eight. The interception was Lewis’ third of the season, he also has the first fumble recoveries (2) of his career in tonight’s game.

7 – Oklahoma won its league-leading seventh Big 12 Championship after the 23-20 victory over Nebraska. OU now has 43 conference titles.

5 – Stills is now second in school history in touchdowns in a single season by an OU freshman with five after his 49-yard TD reception in the first half, he trails Ryan Broyles who had six touchdowns in 2008.

Nebraska Team Notes
• Helu Jr. finished the night with 91 yards on 11 carries for his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season. Helu Jr. also pushed his season rushing total to 1,211 yards. His 1,211 yardage total ranks 12th in Nebraska history and is third among Nebraska seniors.

• Senior place-kicker Alex Henery connected on a 53-yard field goal in the first quarter of tonight’s game to give NU a 10-0 lead. Henery’s 53-yard field goal is the longest in Big 12 Championship Game history, breaking his own 52-yarder against Texas in last year’s game. Henery’s kick was also the longest ever by a Nebraska player away from Lincoln, surpassing his own 52-yarder at Oklahoma State earlier this season. Henery improved to 18-of-19 on field goals this season and 68-of-76 in his career.

• Henery continued his amazing postseason success. He improved to 14-of-14 in the postseason on field goal attempts. He has made three field goals of 50 yards or more in the postseason and nine of 40 yards or more.

• Henery also became Nebraska’s all-time leading scorer in tonight’s game. His eight points tonight give him 396 career points, surpassing the previous record of 388 by Kris Brown from 1995 to 1998. He connected on two s tonight, extending his perfect season to 53-of-53.

• Junior linebacker Lavonte David had 17 tackles in tonight’s game, his eighth double-figure tackle game of the season. The 17 tackles tied the Big 12 Championship Game record set by Dat Nguyen in the 1998 title game. David pushed his season tackle total to 145 moving him into second place on the NU single-season chart. He is four tackles from Barrett Ruud’s single-season mark of 149 tackles in 2003.

• Nebraska sophomore tight end Kyler Reed caught a 5-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter for his seventh touchdown catch of the season. Reed’s seven touchdowns ties the NU season record for tight ends, tying four players, most recently Gerald Armstrong in 1992. Reed’s seven TD catches are tied for the seventh-most in a season for all NU players.

• Senior receiver Mike McNeill caught a 36-yard pass on 4th and 1 in the second quarter. The reception pushed McNeill past 1,000 career receiving yards, making him the 19th Nebraska player to record 1,000 career receiving yards. McNeill now has 1,039 career receiving yards. McNeill finished the night with four catches for 63 yards, his best outing since a career-high five catches for 61 yards at Oklahoma State. It was just the second time this season McNeill has had more than two receptions.

• Sophomore I-back Rex Burkhead completed a 5-yard TD pass to Kyler Reed in the second quarter. Burkhead has thrown for touchdowns on all three of his career pass attempts—all in the past two weeks.

• Nebraska rushed for 145 yards in tonight’s game, marking just the third time NU has not rushed for 200 yards. The Huskers are 10-0 when rushing for 200 yards and 0-3 when not reaching the 200-yard mark.

• Junior defensive tackle Jared Crick registered an eight-yard sack in the third quarter and shared a 14-yard sack in the fourth quarter, giving him 9.0 sacks this season and 18.5 in his career. Crick has 16 tackles for loss this season, bettering his 2009 total of 15.

• Sophomore safety Courtney Osborne registered his first career interception in the second quarter of tonight’s game, setting up a short touchdown that gave Nebraska a 17-0 lead. Osborne became the eighth different defensive back with an interception in 2010.

• Nebraska led 20-17 at half of tonight’s game and lost a halftime lead for only the second time under Pelini . NU entered the night 23-1 under Pelini when leading at halftime and the Huskers are now 23-2 when leading at the half.

• Sooner quarterback Landry Jones accounted for 339 yards of total offense in tonight’s game, ending a streak of 29 straight games without allowing an opposing player to account for 300 yards of total offense. The previous player to record 300 yards of total offense was Kansas’ Todd Reesing who had 339 yards of total offense on Nov. 8, 2008.

• Nebraska held Oklahoma to just 1-of-16 on third-down conversions in the game. The Sooners did convert 2-of-4 on fourth down.

• Tonight’s game captains were seniors Pierre Allen, Prince Amukamara, Alex Henery and Roy Helu Jr.

Updated 12-05-2010

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