Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
STILLWATER, Okla. - It took awhile for Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford to get into a groove in the first half.
But once he did, he proved why he's one of the best quarterbacks in the country.
Bradford directed a pair of 14-play scoring drives to finish the half, directing the Sooners to a 21-13 halftime advantage over Oklahoma State.
The sophomore quarterback completed 8 of 11 for 82 yards on the final drive, capping it with a 4-yard dart to athletic tight end Jermaine Gresham with 13 seconds left in the half. Gresham made four catches on the drive, including two acrobatic ones where he tipped the ball to himself.
It capped a 171-yard first-half effort that upped Bradford's season passing total to 3,881, a new Oklahoma single-season record. The previous best was Josh Heupel's 3,850 in 1999.
Earlier, Bradford had struggled through his worst beginning of the season, misfiring on his first four passes and five of his first nine attempts in the first quarter. The Cowboys were mixing pass coverages as the Sooners dropped or had a hand on Bradford's first three incompletions.
And the Sooners showed their versatility on an earlier scoring drive with a 14-play, 79-yard drive that included seven runs and seven passes. The Sooners overcome second-and-10, second-and-12 and second-and-18 plays in that scoring drive as it converted four third-down plays in a punishing performance that seemed to wear out the Oklahoma State defense.
It's enough to boost the Sooners within 30 minutes of forcing a historic three-way tie for the South Division championship. Texas Tech and Texas have already earned a share of the title with victories earlier this weekend.
Here are some other items of interest I've noticed.
So much for any worries about Oklahoma State tailback Kendall Hunter's injured quadricep muscle. Hunter snagged a 23-yard TD reception to account for the Cowboys' only touchdown and also added a game-high 59 rushing yards. He's running hard and has needed only one break.
The only injury of note in the first half was Oklahoma nose guard Adrian Taylor who was dinged after he was hit by Oklahoma middle linebacker Austin Box late in the first quarter.
Oklahoma has been plagued with some drops in the first half, with at least four incompletions where receivers had a hand on the ball. But Gresham's athleticism with two grabs on balls he tipped to himself made up for those struggles.
The crowd doesn't appear to be nearly as sparse as expected as only a few seats in the upper corners are empty. And these Oklahoma State became a factor early. It helped cause a false start on Oklahoma's first play for scrimmage that led to a three-and-out on Oklahoma's first possession. It was only the second time that the Sooners had failed to score on their opening possession this season.
Oklahoma is taking advantage of a massive size advantage by running heavily towards its left side that includes 350-pound left tackle Phil Loadholt and 330-pound Duke Robinson.
The Cowboys are showing a lot of new wrinkles, using Robinson more as a rushing threat than in most of the season. His serpentine 11-yard scramble showed his athleticism as he eluded tacklers for eight seconds of game action. When he's running like that, Robinson might be the conference's most athletic quarterback.
Oklahoma State kicker Dan Bailey has drilled a pair of field goals, extending his streak to nine-straight kicks. Bailey's 44-yard field goal that pulled the Cowboys within 14-13 was the longest kick of his career. He previously had missed all four attempts in his career of longer than 40 yards.
Oklahoma's defensive front did a better job after Oklahoma State had taken the lead on the touchdown pass to Hunter. After that play, Robinson did not complete another pass in the first half.
The explosive Oklahoma offensive play was held in check with only two plays of 20 yards or more - a 21-yard pass from Bradford to Quentin Chaney and DeMarco Murray's 20-yard TD run to cap Oklahoma's second drive.