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OU football: Lincoln Riley's 'wishbone' offense churns yards, melts clock, puts on clinic in 34-16 Bedlam win

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Lincoln Riley

OU coach Lincoln Riley during the Bedlam game against Oklahoma State Nov. 30.

STILLWATER — Eleven plays, 93 yards, 6:19 and a touchdown. It was a season-defining drive for Oklahoma in the third quarter of Bedlam Saturday night.

Those 11 plays?

A 15-yard run, 2-yard run, 5-yard run, 4-yard run, 6-yard run, 30-yard pass, 8-yard pass, 12-yard run, 2-yard run, 6-yard run and 3-yard touchdown run to cap it off. 

"Do you want me to recite all 11?" coach Lincoln Riley joked after the game. "I maybe could."

Head coach Lincoln Riley put together one of his best playcalling performances Saturday night in No. 7 Oklahoma's (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) 34-16 Bedlam win over No. 21 Oklahoma State (8-4, 5-4 Big 12). And that 93-yard drive was the perfect representation of what OU has become and wants to continue to be. 

"It was big," Riley said. "Those drives that just tend to define games this time of year, where we had got some stops, got some momentum and if you were just kind of sitting there, 'What would be the perfect scenario there?' That's what you would say.

"Go on a long drive. Chew up some clock. Wear them down." 

Oklahoma's offense looked like the juggernaut it's used to being Saturday night. But it was a different type of juggernaut. 

Of their 63 plays Saturday, 44 were on the ground. They rushed 283 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per carry. Through the air, they were an efficient 14-of-17, averaging 9.8 yards per pass. 

But the biggest stat of the night? Zero turnovers — something that has hindered OU's offense in recent games, turning the ball over 10 times in the previous four games.

"We really strongly emphasized the turnovers this week, knew we had to have a game where we’re not just hanging onto it offensively and getting them defensively but doing that in sync in one game," Riley said on a night the defense had two takeaways. "Let’s have a game where we can dominate the turnover battle completely. It was a huge challenge to our guys, they certainly responded there." 

After its first 11-play drive in the third quarter, Oklahoma would go on another in the fourth. This one was 11 plays, 73 yards and 5:45, giving Oklahoma a commanding 34-16 lead in with only 10 minutes remaining.

"Usually when you win on third down you have a good chance of being successful in the game," said Jalen Hurts, who totaled 228 yards and three touchdowns. "In the end, we talk about us coming out and playing up to our standards like always but just taking advantage of every opportunity we have, that’s the most important thing for us. A better game as far as how complete we played in November, but there’s still more.

"We’re not satisfied by any means, and got good momentum going into this big game this week."

Oklahoma State had no answer in the second half. 

"It's tough keep up with an offense like them, and they were effective rushing the football," Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy said. "That's the way it comes out. Offhand, that's kind of what I think happened." 

Riley even brought back what most call the "Philly Special" — a double reverse pass back to the quarterback for a touchdown. He ran the exact same play with Baker Mayfield two years ago in the Rose Bowl against Georgia. 

College Football: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State | Fox

College Football: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State | Fox

Riley was masterful Saturday. In his recent past, he's had the tendency to steer away from what's working. But not Saturday. He wore the Cowboys down until they had nothing left.

It's what he and the Sooners do best this time of year. 

"I’d say the last few years it’s been a key part of us being able to play well at the end of the year and ultimately win this league, is being able to have those and we’ve had several of those later in the seasons," Riley said. "I can think of all four of the championship years and games where we’ve had to do that and we’ve been able to do it and tonight’s another one. You always get to that point. I don’t care how good you are throwing the ball. There’s always going to be points where, for your team, and especially it seems to be late in the season, where you gotta have drives like that, and you have to be able to do it.

"And to be able to do it — we’ve been able to it the last couple of weeks, and that’s been really big, and to do it in this environment tonight was huge.”

On Monday of this week, Gundy said Riley's offense was a "one-man show." That is was practically the "wishbone."

Riley laughed off the comments Saturday night, saying he took it as a compliment. And he should. 

Former legendary coach and wishbone aficionado Barry Switzer would be proud of the way Riley ran his "wishbone" offense Saturday night.

"However we get defined," Riley said, "as long as we’re winning and offensively we’re scoring enough points to win that’s all I care."

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I joined The Daily in the fall of 2016 as a sophomore. I've covered the soccer team, both men's and women's basketball, as well as the football team for the past two years. I have been the sports editor since spring 2018.

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