The Sooners got Gavin Sawchuk going in the second half. He produced his third straight triple-digit game, 107 yards on 14 carries, and 83 of those yards (on seven carries) came in the second half.
PROVO, Utah — OU’s 31-24 survival of Brigham Young on Saturday was a monument to getting by. The Sooners excelled in a few areas but made enough plays in a variety of phases to win a tight game.
The game was tied 7-7, 14-14, 17-17 and 24-24, before OU owned the fourth quarter. The report card reflects a tough, but good-enough, day at the office.
Running game: B. The Sooners got Gavin Sawchuk going in the second half. He produced his third straight triple-digit game, 107 yards on 14 carries, and 83 of those yards (on seven carries) came in the second half. Strangely, with Dillon Gabriel’s passing threat in the first half, OU gained just 47 yards on 13 designed run plays. But in the second half, when Jackson Arnold quarterbacked and the passing game curtailed, the Sooners had 118 yards on 16 designed runs.
Run defense: D. BYU entered the game as one of the nation’s weakest running teams, averaging 90.5 yards per game. But the Cougars ran strong in the first half — 70 yards on 15 designed running plays. Then the Cougars ran wild in the third quarter. Tailback Aidan Robbins gained 102 yards on seven carries in that third period, gashing OU with gains of 13, 25, 22, 14 and 18 yards. The Sooners finally began slowing Robbins in the fourth quarter, when he had 31 yards on five carries. But all told, BYU gained 231 yards on 33 designed running plays, giving the Cougars a chance to win.
Finishing: A. In a loss at Kansas three weeks ago, OU had the ball late, failed to make a first down and Kansas rallied with the game-winning touchdown. The Sooner offense finished much stronger Saturday. Armed with a 31-24 lead, OU ground out the final 5:08, making three first downs. Sawchuk’s 19-yard run produced one first down, Arnold’s back-to-back gains of five and six yards produced another and Arnold’s third-and-8 completion to Jalil Farooq for nine yards put the capper on the game. The third-down pass was a far cry from Kansas, when OU ran the ball three straight times, then punted back to the Jayhawks.
Gallery: OU’s 31-24 win at BYU in pictures
Kicking game: D. OU punter Luke Elzinga had a wild two-play sequence in the first quarter. On a fourth-and-7 play, Elzinga took the deep snap, rolled just a little left and pivoted to loft a looping throw that Ethan Downs, normally a defensive end, caught for about a 20-yard gain. Alas, Nic Anderson was called for offensive pass interference, and Elzinga instead punted on the next down. BYU’s Parker Kingston broke free and returned the kick 31 yards before he was tackled in the middle of the field by, yes, Elzinga. Elzinga averaged 46 yards on four punts. But Zac Schmit hooked a 28-yard field goal attempt, with the score tied 24-24. Farooq had a 32-yard kickoff return for the Sooners, but the special teams were mostly a downer.
Jackson Arnold: B. The freshman who long has been billed as a future star was solid but not spectacular in the second half when he was asked to run the Sooner offense in Gabriel’s absence. OU ran just 25 second-half plays before the final three snaps of kneel downs. Just 10 of those plays were pass plays. Arnold completed five of nine for 33 yards, plus a 15-yard scramble. Arnold overthrew a wide-open Anderson on a deep ball that would have been a touchdown, but with the game on the line, he checked to a Farooq slant pattern on 3rd-and-8, connecting for a game-sealing first down.
Setting: A. LaVell Edwards Stadium, sitting hard by the Wasatch Mountains, long has held a reputation as one of the greatest settings in college football. The colorful fall foliage in the two miles between the stadium and the mountains, the majestic Rockies themselves, the iconic “Y” on the side of Y Mountain, the campus itself. Hard to beat. Maybe the best
Fourth-down defense: F. BYU faced eight fourth downs. The Cougars punted four times, kicked one field goal and converted three times. Those three conversions led to 17 of BYU’s 24 points. Quarterback Jake Retzlaff threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Chase Roberts on 4th-and-1 in the first quarter, connected with Isaac Rex for 13 yards on a 4th-and-2 that set up a second-quarter field goal, and scrambled to find Kody Epps for a 26-yard play on a third-quarter 4th-and-2 that set up BYU’s final TD. This game gets one-sided if the Sooners had made a couple of fourth-down stops.