NORMAN, Okla. — With the running games grounded, it came down to a battle between quarterbacks: Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Missouri’s Chase Daniel.
It was the precocious redshirt freshman against the confident junior.
The man who just beat Texas against the high school star from Texas.
The future Heisman contender against the one receiving all of the buzz.
The college football pundits won’t be talking about Daniel after Saturday’s game. The boy from Oklahoma City beat out Daniel in this matchup.
Daniel was the one who got rattled in the fourth quarter, making two crucial mistakes deep in Tigers territory.
Bradford, however, responded to the pressure. When MU regained the lead late in the third quarter, he answered. Earning two key third-down conversions, Bradford led the Sooners to a touchdown.
On the ensuing drive, Daniel faltered. Trying to hand off to wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Daniel fumbled on the first play. He climbed on Oklahoma linebacker Curtis Lofton’s back as Lofton ran into the end zone. The Sooners led 35-24.
Two drives later, Daniel threw his second interception, ending the Tigers’ hopes.
But Daniel can’t win games by himself. He needs a friend in the backfield. He needs tailback Tony Temple.
The senior didn’t travel with the team because of the sprained ankle he suffered against Nebraska.
Tailbacks Derrick Washington, Jimmy Jackson and Earl Goldsmith filled in for Temple, but they struggled. Forced to attempt multiple reverses, Maclin was the team’s leading rusher with 32 yards.
Daniel needed a healthy Temple to take the pressure away from him and make the offense less dependent on his arm. The way to beat the Sooners is on the ground. Just ask Colorado.
The Sooners were giving up only 66.5 yards on the ground entering Saturday’s game. The Buffaloes were able to wear down the Sooners, gaining 161 yards rushing. Texas only got 61, and the Tigers only 57.
The MU defense played well enough, forcing two key turnovers. None of the Sooners running backs were able to get on track until the fourth quarter. Allen Patrick, Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray struggled to break runs of more than 10 yards until the fourth quarter.
Daniel had the stage. But he let the opportunity fall from his grasp.
Maclin is not a quarterback: Maclin has done everything for the Tigers this season. He has touched the ball all over the field, excelling as a returner, wide receiver and rusher.
But what about quarterback?
Daniel’s job is safe after Maclin’s turn behind center. The speedster from St. Louis threw a crucial interception in the third quarter. Rolling out to the right, Maclin looked for tight end Martin Rucker, but cornerback Reggie Smith picked him off.