STILLWATER, Okla. — Dru Brown rolled to his right on third down, trying to find a receiver to get a first down in the red zone.
He couldn’t find anyone downfield, so he checked it down to Logan Carter short of the marker. Down by a touchdown early in the third quarter, the Cowboys elected to kick a field goal.
That was the closest OSU ever got to climbing back in the game against the Sooners.
The Cowboys’ chronic settling for field goals came back to bite them in their 34-16 loss to No. 7 Oklahoma on Saturday night in Boone Pickens Stadium.
OSU (8-4 overall, 5-4 Big 12) compromised for three field goals in the contest while trailing, with two coming inside the 20-yard line. It’s the first time since 2009 the Cowboys have scored less than 20 points in the Bedlam game, and OU has now won five-straight against OSU.
OSU coach Mike Gundy said being forced to kick field goals put his team in a tough situation opposite the strong Oklahoma offense.
“What this game comes down to is you can’t kick field goals and beat a good football team,” Gundy said. “… We put ourselves in a jam where we could never get over the hump.”
The Sooners received the kickoff to start the game, and they didn’t have much trouble cutting through the Cowboy defense. In fact, OU needed just four plays to drive 78 yards, in which Jalen Hurts capped it off with a 28-yard rushing touchdown.
No. 21-ranked OSU fired back on the next drive, feeding Chuba Hubbard with four rushes and one reception. The leading rusher in the nation was able to tie the game at seven midway through the first quarter on a three-yard power plunge.
The contest had the early looks of whoever got a stop on defense first would get a huge advantage, and that’s what the Sooners did.
After a Gabe Brkic field goal to go up 10-7, Parnell Motley stripped the ball away from Braydon Johnson on the Cowboys’ ensuing drive to swing the momentum pendulum back toward OU.
The Sooners (11-1, 8-1) took advantage of the short field and used some creative play calling. On a trick play, receiver Nick Basquine lobbed an easy four-yard touchdown pass to Hurts, extending OU’s lead to 17-7.
To close the half, the two teams traded field goals back and forth, and the Sooners led 20-13 at the half. OSU had a chance at the end of the second quarter to make the point separation narrower, but conservative play calling with a short pass, two inside rushes and a false start within the 10-yard line caused the Cowboys to stall and kick for three.
The third quarter began with two punts, something the first half didn’t see at all. After a 34-yard completion from Brown to Johnson boosted OSU into OU territory on its second drive, the Cowboys threatened to tie the game.
Despite the chance, struggles in the red zone showed back up with three short, ineffective passes, including the dump off to Carter. OSU was forced to kick another field goal.
The inability to capitalize on touchdown-scoring chances gave the Sooners a chance to open the game up, and they added to the lead on the next drive on a Kennedy Brooks three-yard rushing touchdown to take a 27-16 advantage nine minutes into the third.
On their next drive, the Cowboys finally decided to go for it on fourth down in Oklahoma territory, but they were unsuccessful.
With an opportunity to close it out, a Hurts touchdown pass to a wide-open Brayden Willis with 10:21 left in the game sealed the victory for OU.
While OSU’s offense couldn’t get to the end zone, the Sooners’ rushing attack proved to be the factor that fortified OU’s output with 283 yards. Brooks led with 160 yards and one score on 22 rushes.
“It looked like to me there’s times that he’s running untouched for six, seven, eight yards,” Gundy said. “We struggled with the guard-tackle pull play.”
After another deflating loss to the rival from the south, OSU will take some days off before preparing for its bowl game.
“It’s a disappointing loss, because I just didn’t feel like we played as good as we could’ve,” Gundy said. “Coaches and players, I didn’t we performed as good as we could have. But we did lose to a good football team.”