(Saturday, December 4th)
Final Score: (10) Oklahoma 23, (13) Nebraska 20
Arlington, TX (Sports Network) - Jimmy Stevens kicked a 27-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to lift No. 10 Oklahoma to its fourth Big 12 championship in five years with a 23-20 victory over 13th-ranked Nebraska.
The Sooners (11-2) overcame a 17-point first-half deficit and held the Cornhuskers (10-3) scoreless in the second half, earning their seventh conference title and a trip to the Fiesta Bowl.
In a hard-fought battle between the longtime conference rivals, Oklahoma converted a fumble into the go-ahead field goal with 8:28 left.
Indeed, what looked early on like it would be a victorious end to Nebraska's stay in the Big 12 turned into a game that pivoted on Cornhusker turnovers.
Oklahoma's Travis Lewis recovered the fumble in the fourth quarter -- the third time in the game that OU scored on a Nebraska turnover that ended in the hands of the Sooners linebacker.
Lewis also recovered a fumble in the first half, leading to a touchdown that tied the game, and he intercepted a pass in the end zone to set up three more points for Oklahoma.
"We wanted this bad," said Lewis.
But the defense didn't do it alone.
The Sooners got 454 yards of offense, led by Landry Jones' 342 yards passing and Demarco Murray's 68 yards rushing. Jones completed 23 of his 41 passes, including throws of 23, 19 and 11 yards on the 11-play, 55-yard drive that set up the game-winning field goal.
Roy Helu Jr. carried 11 times for 91 yards and scored on a 66-yard run for Nebraska, but also lost a fumble that turned into an Oklahoma field goal. Rex Burkhead had 92 yards on 16 carries and threw the only Cornhuskers passing touchdown. Quarterback Taylor Martinez was 12-of-24 passing for 143 yards and an interception.
Nebraska fumbled five times, losing three, and gained just 293 yards on offense. The Cornhuskers, off to the Big Ten next year, ended their Big 12 run with two championships (1997 and 1999).
The sendoff looked good early.
The Cornhuskers jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter behind Helu's 66-yard touchdown sprint down the left sideline and Alex Henery's 53-yard field goal.
They went ahead 17-0 before the second quarter was even three minutes old, converting an interception into Burkhead's TD pass to tight end Kyler Reed in the middle of the end zone.
But Oklahoma stormed back to tie the game at 17 before halftime, reversing the game's momentum.
"I told them to just keep playin' ball," said Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops. "That's what we told 'em before the game, just keep playing because it's gonna be a long night."
It took the Sooners just four plays to get the first seven points back, with Jones finding Kenny Stills behind the Nebraska defense for a 49-yard touchdown.
Martinez moved Nebraska back down the field to the Sooners' eight-yard line, but was intercepted in the end zone by Lewis. Oklahoma turned the pick into three points on Stevens' 26-yard field goal, pulling within 17-10 with 2:35 left in the first half.
Helu fumbled on the ensuing Nebraska possession, and Jones' 30-yard pass to Stills carried Oklahoma all the way to the one-yard line, where Jones punched the ball in for a TD to tie the game.
The Cornhuskers re-gained the lead before the half on Henery's 42-yard field goal with six seconds on the clock, but it marked their last points of the game.
A Martinez fumble on the first series of the third quarter led to a Stevens miss from 24 yards. But the Oklahoma kicker would have a couple more chances to put his team on top.
He booted a 20-yarder with 7:04 remaining in the quarter to tie the game at 20.
The next four series ended in punts until Nebraska, driving at the Oklahoma 33-yard line, lost the snap in a shotgun formation and couldn't corral the fumble.
Instead, Lewis jumped on it and Oklahoma converted the turnover into Stevens' 27-yarder. The Sooners then held Nebraska to a pair of punts and a final drive that stalled at its own 47.
"Beating Nebraska, like this, in this game? Are you kidding?" Stoops said. "It's just great to get another championship."
Nebraska was making its sixth appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game after winning the Big 12 North...Oklahoma won the Big 12 South tiebreaker with Oklahoma State and Texas A&M based on its higher BCS ranking...The Sooners were making their eighth appearance in the Big 12 title game.
12/05 02:31:30 ET