Oklahoma’s head coach Lincoln Riley made a bold move in the fourth quarter of his team’s game against Nebraska, challenging an interception return for a touchdown by the Cornhuskers.
Lincoln Riley nearly made history for another reason on a day when No. 3 Oklahoma scored the fewest points in school history in a 23-16 victory against Nebraska.
Riley went straight to the officials after Oklahoma cornerback D.J. Graham produced a highlight-reel one-handed interception on fourth down on his own 3-yard line with 8:16 left in the game.
Riley said, “I may have been the only coach in history to challenge a play on which we had an interception.” “I was hoping it would collapse.”
The Sooners would have started from their own 24 if they had failed to complete the pass. However, since they were deep in their own territory, Riley chose to play it safe, running it on first and second down for zero yards before throwing an incompletion on third down.
Samori Toure’s 10-yard return after a punt put Nebraska on the OU 38-yard line. With 5:38 left in the game, the Cornhuskers reduced Oklahoma’s advantage to 23-16 on Adrian Martinez’s 21-yard touchdown throw.
Riley added, “I felt it juggled about a little,” adding that he questioned the authorities whether it was a catch, and they replied it was already verified. “I’m not sure whether I would have questioned it.”
The field position problem was part of a bigger trend for Saturday’s game, which saw the erstwhile rivals, who haven’t played since 2010, play a close game that at times seemed like an old Big 8 matchup.
Nebraska missed two field goals, Oklahoma missed one, and Nebraska blocked an extra point that OU’s Pat Fields recovered 100 yards for two scores at the conclusion of the third quarter, extending a 14-9 advantage to 16-9.
Coach Lincoln Riley claimed he “may have been the only coach in history to challenge a play we had an interception on” after Oklahoma CB D.J. Graham’s one-handed interception on fourth down at the Sooner 3-yard line in the fourth quarter Saturday. USA TODAY Sports/Kevin Jairaj
Oklahoma trailed 7-3 at halftime and scored its fewest points in any game under Riley, breaking a 65-game scoring run, the longest by any team in the AP poll period (since 1936).
Riley remarked, “It was a hard-fought game.” “You had a feeling it would be. Everyone knew how wonderful it would be to bring this game back. Both teams performed well. It was a tense game with a lot riding on it for both schools and fan groups.”
Spencer Rattler completed 24-of-34 passes for 214 yards, although his longest throw was just 23 yards. He also rushed for 35 yards while throwing for a score and adding another on the ground.
“Playing quarterback is an art because you have so much influence over game decision-making,” Riley said. “He seemed to have a decent sense of it. He didn’t actually put the ball in jeopardy.”
Riley said Rattler performed better on Saturday than he did in his first year as a starter last year, and said he had full faith in him and was certain the offense will come together.
“You have to be sharp to play at an elite level versus,” Riley added. “We’re simply a pain in the neck. But we’re going to make it. I guarantee it. We’ll be there in no time.”
After the game was over, much of the attention was focused on Graham’s spectacular interception. Riley wasn’t shocked since Graham makes circus catches all the time, and Rattler was asked whether he ever pushes for him to play offensive.
“I know he was a receiver in high school,” Rattler said, “and I heard he was very good.” “In practice, he does it all the time. He’ll leap into the air and make an Odell grab. He’s a ferocious ballhawk.”
Riley may have had a little problem with where he caught the ball, but Graham’s defensive coordinator couldn’t bring himself to say he’d prefer he had batted it down.
Alex Grinch remarked, “I enjoy takeout too much to order him to put it on the ground.”