If you listen to Sooner fans around the state, and around the country - Oklahoma Sooners football is "back" after their impressive win over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.
Whether or not you believe they ever "went" anywhere, you can't deny the win over the Tide help change the recent perception of OU football with fans - and more importantly, with recruits.
"Well, it meant a lot," said Joe Mixon, the nation's number one high school running back. "Once they won that Alabama game, that sealed the deal. Now I'm a Sooner... let's get it."
"I was scared before, because it seemed like OU was having trouble in the postseason," said Steven Parker, the number one ranked recruit in the state of Oklahoma. "Whenever I saw them beat Alabama, it just really shocked me - I think it shocked a lot of people in the world - and had me going back in their direction a little bit."
But this rekindling of Sooner Magic wouldn't have been possible if it wasn't for a play made... Or not made... By their arch rivals.
With one minute left on the game clock, and the Cowboys clinging to a 24-20 lead... Sooner QB Blake Bell took a shot down field to Lacoltan Bester, who was covered by one of the best cornerbacks in the country - OSU senior Justin Gilbert. At first glance, it looked like Gilbert made the game-clinching interception. But that wasn't the case."The Oklahoma State crowd erupts," said former OSU head coach Pat Jones. "I'm watching the game, and I'm seeing that ball trickle out, and I can catch the official... and I'm thinking, wait a minute, this is not an interception."Chris Plank, OU football's sideline reporter, remembers that moment well. "The thing I'll never forget is seeing Justin Gilbert go up and make a play, and hearing Toby (Rowland) in my ear say "interception was made, the game is over", and I see the ball pop out. I think I lost my mind, "IT'S INCOMPLETE, IT POPPED OUT!""That one play," Jones says, "One play... really changed the direction of college football this season."
That's because, had Gilbert held onto the ball, OSU would've run the clock out & won Bedlam - but he didn't, and four plays later - Bell found Jalen Saunders for what would be the winning touchdown... sending OU to a BCS Bowl game instead of the Cowboys.
That lead to the aforementioned Sugar Bowl victory over Alabama... And as a result, lead to a newfound respect as a program across the country - warranted or not.
"Yeah, I think it is a little bit overstated" Plank says. "But based on everything leading up to that game, 10 point, 15 point underdogs - whatever it was - Alabama's a team that, if it wasn't for a fluke play, they're in the National Championship game. There wasn't really too many people giving Oklahoma a shot - in fact, nobody did. And then to see the way they not only went out and competed, but then dominated down the stretch... I think it's reassuring."
Looking back, all that reassurance can all be attributed to one Bedlam play whose impact could be felt for seasons to come.