HOUSTON -- Tom Herman initially had no intention of trying to replicate Auburn's famous "Kick Six" from 2013.
But a timeout gave Houston's coach time to reconsider, he put Brandon Wilson back at the back of the end zone and his cornerback made the day's most memorable play, returning a missed field goal for a touchdown that boosted the No. 15 Cougars to a 33-23 win over No. 3 Oklahoma in front of 71,016 at NRG Stadium.
The win was Houston's fifth consecutive against a Power Five opponent, the longest such streak among non-Power Five teams.
With the Big 12 studying expansion and the Cougars mentioned as a likely candidate, the game was an audition of sorts.
"We don't worry about that type of thing," Houston quarterback Greg Ward Jr. said. "We only worry about who we are to play that week and next week starts tomorrow.
"So we're really just focused on them. We're not going to be worried about who we played or what conference they're in."
When he initially caught the ball, Wilson thought the play was about to be blown dead.
"When I caught it, I really thought I stepped out," Wilson said. "I didn't hear a whistle or anything so I just went. I just went and saw green grass and I scored."
When Austin Seibert lined up for the 53-yard field goal less than 6:30 into the third quarter, Houston was clinging to a 17-16 lead.
The Sooners had to call a timeout after initially lining up only 10 players on the play, giving Herman a window to reconsider his strategy.
Seibert's kick fell just short of the crossbar and Wilson corralled it with his foot just an inch or two from the back of the end zone.
He quickly broke free, turning the tide strongly in the Cougars' favor.
"You know you have to cover it," Sooners coach Bob Stoops said. "But the personnel on the field isn't the best cover guys. Because the best cover guys wouldn't be able to protect the field goal, you're in a bit of a dilemma.
"I don't really second guess. I've seen Austin make that quite a few times."
The momentum kept going Houston's way immediately after Wilson's return. To that point, neither team's defense did much stopping the opposing offense.
But two plays after Wilson's touchdown, he came up big again, recovering a fumble by Oklahoma wide receiver Jarvis Baxter to give the ball back to the Cougars.
The play was reviewed but there was not enough evidence to overturn the fumble call and Houston took advantage.
The Cougars drove 51 yards in 12 plays to go up 33-17 on Tyler McCloskey's 2-yard touchdown pass from Ward.
Ward was excellent, throwing for 323 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions.
While he didn't help much in the running game -- he gained one yard on 18 carries -- his scrambling ability repeatedly bought him time to find receivers behind Oklahoma's defense.
That was never more apparent than the final series before the half, when Ward slipped free on a third-and-10 with less than 30 seconds remaining.
He looked like he might throw the ball out of bounds but instead stepped up and found Lunnell Bonner for a 16-yard gain that not only gave Houston the first down but put the Cougars in field-goal range.
Ty Cummings nailed a career-long 47-yard field goal to end the half and give Houston a 19-17 lead.
"They made every play that they were supposed to," Sooners cornerback Jordan Thomas said. "We had stupid penalties here and there. We couldn't get off the field on third down. The offense couldn't convert.
"We felt like we were playing behind the ball most of the time. Those are things that we just have to fix."
NOTES: Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine left the game early in the second quarter because of a shoulder injury. Perine returned but played sparingly the rest of the game. ... It was the fourth career 300-yard passing game for Houston QB Greg Ward Jr. ... Houston RB Duke Catalon, who was playing his first game for the Cougars after transferring from Texas and sitting out last season, took a hard hit early in the second quarter and missed the final nine plays of that series before returning on Houston's next possession. ... Oklahoma senior CB Dakota Austin was replaced in the second quarter by freshman Parrish Cobb after Austin struggled early. Austin re-entered the game just before halftime. ... Houston did not punt until the first drive of the second half. ... Houston hosts Lamar on Saturday. Oklahoma hosts Louisiana-Monroe. ... Adrian Peterson, former Oklahoma star and Minnesota Vikings running back, and Olympic track star Carl Lewis, an assistant track coach at Houston, were the game's honorary captains.