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Oklahoma rides defense to rally past Tennessee in 2 OTs

After falling behind 17-0 and being left for dead in what was once a raucous Neyland Stadium, Oklahoma rallied past Tennessee for a 31-24 victory in double overtime on Saturday. Junior cornerback Zack Sanchez sealed it for the No. 19 Sooners by stepping in front of a Josh Dobbs pass and intercepting it, setting off a wild celebration on the Oklahoma sideline.

What the win means for Oklahoma: The Sooners needed something like this, especially on the road, after ending the season a year ago so poorly. They had pointed to this game most in the offseason and despite playing so poorly offensively for much of the game, were able to hang around, lean on their defense and make just enough plays offensively in the clutch. The Sooners (2-0) now go back home to face Tulsa next week and will open Big 12 play on Oct. 3 at home against West Virginia.

What the loss means for Tennessee: It was a crushing defeat (and collapse) for Tennessee, which jumped out to a 17-0 lead and had the home crowd rocking at one point. But the Vols went belly-up offensively and were especially ineffective in the passing game, which allowed the Sooners to hang around. Now, Tennessee has a trip to Florida looming in two weeks that takes on even more importance, if that's possible. The Vols have lost 10 straight to the Gators, and the last thing they wanted to even think about was leaving September with two losses.

Player of the game: Oklahoma senior receiver Sterling Shepard didn't do much early, but he was terrific when it counted. His leaping, highlight-reel touchdown catch tied the game with 40 seconds remaining in regulation. Then in the second overtime, he took a short pass and battled his way into the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown.

The game turned when: The Vols, with a multitude of chances to put the game away, were unable to beat the Sooners' press coverage and make anything happen down the field in the passing game. After gaining 117 yards in the first quarter, Tennessee managed just 110 yards over the next three quarters.

Uh, what?: Tennessee was a foot away from punching in a touchdown on its first drive of the game, but coach Butch Jones elected to kick the short field goal instead.

Unsung hero: Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops kept his guys in it despite not getting any help at all from the offense. The Sooners held the Vols to 254 total yards and no points in regulation after the 12:14 mark of the second quarter.

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