- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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EL PASO, Texas – It was ugly. But it’s a win. The Sooners finally pulled away from UTEP in the fourth quarter to win 24-7.
It was over when: OU running back Damien Williams went over right tackle, cut back across the field, then raced 65 yards for a touchdown, giving the Sooners a 24-7 lead with 2:55 to play. The Sooners entered the fourth quarter clinging to a 10-7 lead.
Game ball goes to: UTEP running back Nathan Jeffrey, who kept the Miners in the game into the fourth quarter. Jeffrey rushed for 177 yards on 21 carries, nearly becoming the first back in a decade to run for more than 200 yards against the Sooners. Jeffrey also scored UTEP’s only touchdown, scooping up a blocked punt and racing 24 yards in the first quarter.
Stat of the game: If the Miners had a reliable field goal kicker, they might have won the game. UTEP missed all three of its field goal attempts, from 45, 31 and 41 yards out. Dakota Warren missed the first two. Steven Valadez misfired on the third, which would have tied the game late in the third quarter.
Unsung hero: Defensive tackle David King, who spearheaded OU’s consistent pass rush up the middle. The Sooners were without both of their starting in defensive tackles Stacy McGee (suspended) and Casey Walker (personal issue), but King, who flipped from end to tackle two weeks ago, made sure that Nick Lamaison never found a rhythm, as the UTEP quarterback completed just 6 of 23 passes for 39 yards.
What we learned about this team: The Sooners have a long way to go to become a Big 12 title contender, much less a national championship one. Especially on the offensive side of the ball. UTEP ranked 104th in the country last season in total defense, but stymied the Sooners for three-and-a-half quarters. The running game was sporadic, and Landry Jones looked out of sync with his new receiving corps. If the Sooners are going to score with the likes of West Virginia and Oklahoma State, they are going to need to make a lot of improvement.