Last Saturday the Oklahoma Sooners suffered, what many would consider, more than just a setback when they lost to their bitter rivals 24-17 in the Cotton Bowl. Coming into the game, Oklahoma was favored to win by 17.5 points, and was considered a legitimate contender to reach the College Football Playoff. Now, it seems like they are dead in the water … but are they really? The Oklahoma Sooners aren’t done just yet. In fact, they still should be considered Big 12 title contenders.
First off, while this loss hurts the Sooners, it did not affect one reality: The Sooners are still in control of their own destiny. If they win each of their next 7 games they are going to be Big XII champions. Just ask Ohio State. They lost to a woeful Virginia Tech squad early last season, then kept winning, dismantled an average Wisconsin team in the Big 10 Championship, and found themselves jumping both TCU and Baylor to make the CFB Playoff.
The next question becomes, well are they good enough? The answer is a resounding yes! Oklahoma has some of the best skill position players in the Big XII, they boast arguably the best two backs, receiver, and quarterback, as well as one of the league’s best defensive units.
In fairness, there were plenty of issues in their loss to Texas. So, what went wrong? The Sooners found themselves struggling to do anything offensively until the game was almost completely out of reach, and seemed to forget how to tackle at crucial moments. Luckily for the Sooners, their issues are actually fixable. In fact, bad tackling has been an uncharacteristic trait this season for OU. But why were the Sooners unable to move the football? The answer is blocking. The offensive line doesn’t seem to have enough nasty in them yet. They aren’t ripping holes open for Samaje Perine or giving Baker Mayfield enough time to throw. If you watched the game, even the commentators noticed one of OUs flaws, and it was something Texas clearly saw on tape, Oklahoma Right Tackle Josiah St. John’s stance gave away if the call was a pass or run play. If OU can’t make major improvements in the trenches, Baylor’s defensive front will eat them alive on November 14th.
Now, there were some things to be impressed by. For the most part, Oklahoma’s defense played well against the Longhorns. Another good sign was to see QB Baker Mayfield under center and watching the Sooners show more of a commitment to the running game from the I formation. Keep in mind that Texas had nothing to lose and everything to gain versus OU. It was a game that some believe may have saved Charlie Strong’s job, or if nothing more, given him much more breathing room.
The Sooners now have to bounce back and avoid back to back losses in the regular season for the first time since 1999. It won’t be easy, as OU plays a feisty and scrappy K-state squad who gave Oklahoma State, and TCU all they can handle the last two weeks.
Two seasons ago Oklahoma lost to Texas, and went on to beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl losing only once more during the season, to the Big XII champions, Baylor. Ohio State was not punished too harshly last season for an early loss to Virginia Tech, and many times during the BCS era, teams lost some games they shouldn’t have and found themselves in the right position when it mattered most. This season in college football, it seems hard to believe any team will run the table in the regular season. In such a season, Oklahoma will have a chance to bounce back strong. How will Oklahoma respond to their devastating loss to their arch rivals? What does it mean? Well Oklahoma, destiny is in their hands. They’re chances are as good as anyone in Big 12.
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