Big 12 Sports Articles

How Oklahoma went from a Texas loss to a CFB Playoff contender

On October 10, the Sooners traveled to Dallas to meet the Texas Longhorns for the yearly Red River Rivalry.

Oklahoma stepped into Dallas the stronger team. The previous week, OU walked off the Neyland Stadium field with a victory in double OT vs. Tennessee. Oklahoma fans believed in Sooner Magic which gave players, fans and coaches confidence to walk into the Cotton Bowl Stadium feeling invincible.

Well, the Sooners felt defeated from the first scoring drive by Texas. When Texas came back with another touchdown, the Sooners were still unable to score. The rest of the afternoon was bleak for Oklahoma.

Oklahoma lost to Texas in Dallas, 24-17 to a weak Longhorn team who blindsided the Sooners when their confidence was too high. Oklahoma was labeled as irrelevant, but the Sooners did not let the label stick for long.

The team that arrived in Dallas was not the team who played against West Virginia the weekend before. Additionally, they were not close to the team that scored 14 unanswered points in an amazing fourth quarter performance against the Vols.

Oklahoma rebounded quickly from the loss against Texas, traveling to Kansas State the following weekend to shutout the Wildcats 55-0. The team was able to make statements on offense as well as defense. QB Baker Mayfield accounted for 5 touchdowns, 282 passing yards and 33 rushing yards.

While some were skeptical of the Oklahoma rebound, the Sooners hosted Texas Tech. The Red Raiders maintained high-scoring, high-intensity offensive game, but the Sooners had some tricks up their sleeve.

Although the Mayfield threw an interception, the Sooners maintained a persistent rushing game. Oklahoma had two players rush for more than 150 yards, RB Samaje Perine and RB Joe Mixon. The pair accounted for 355 of the Sooners’ 405 total rushing yards against Tech.

As Big 12 play continued, the Sooners were taking it one week and one game at a time. After the Red Raiders, it was time to meet the Jayhawks.

Oklahoma traveled to a near-empty Lawrence to defeat Kansas, 62-7. The offense was making connections. QB Baker Mayfield was beginning to create stable chemistry between RB Samaje Perine, RB Joe Mixon and WR Sterling Shepard.

After another Stoops victory over Kansas, it was time to come back to Norman to host the Cyclones.  The weekend the Sooners played the Jayhawks, Iowa State hosted the Texas Longhorns in a shocking Cyclone victory.

The chances of a Big 12 power shuffled seemed possible, and Iowa State traveled to Norman.

The Sooners then hosted Iowa State this past weekend. Oklahoma powered through the first drive, scoring in six seconds with a 75 yard run by Shepard to begin the game 7-3. OC Lincoln Riley said he was giving the offense the needed confidence to continue through the game, even if it kickoff had just happened minutes before.

Oklahoma scored five touchdowns in under one minute of playing time for each score. Six, if you count the 1:01 minute touchdown scored later in the game.

The Sooners scored 3 1- play touchdowns and 2 2-play touchdowns against ISU. That power is palpable when watching the Sooners run the field.

While Oklahoma fumbled around the second quarter against the Cyclones, the renewed momentum after the half was noticeable. The Sooners scored 38 points in the second half of the game, with a strong run/pass balance.

The Oklahoma defense allowed one touchdown against Iowa State during the fourth quarter of the game and the other nine points were from field goals.

To say the Sooners have found their momentum is an understatement. Oklahoma has outscored their opponents 232-42 in the past four games. But next, the Sooners take on their biggest challenge yet. Oklahoma travels to Waco this Saturday to take on powerhouse, undefeated Baylor.

Baylor is running on a backup generator by red shirt freshman QB Jarrett Stidham as its first string QB Seth Russell is out due to a neck injury.

Stidham started his first game against Kansas State Thursday, November 5 in Manhattan to slide past the Wildcats, 31-24. Although the young QB had shining moments, the Sooners showed much more domination against K-State than Baylor did.

Baylor was able to keep its stronghold against the Wildcats with its powerful passing game, holding a 419-172 in yards. But the Bears were not able to out-rush their opponent. Kansas State finished with 258 rushing yards, and Baylor 103.

The Sooners dominated rushing and passing yards against Kansas State, finishing with 336 passing yards and 232 rushing yards. While the Bears did not have as strong as a rushing game against the Wildcats as Oklahoma did.

While the Bears have dominated teams across the board offensively, the Sooners have been able to hold teams down with their offense and defense.

The key to an OU win will be the back seven, including LB Eric Striker, LB Devonte Bond and the various cornerbacks to mix things up and try to confuse Stidham, while pressuring Baylor’s uber-athletic wide outs.

Under the best circumstances, I see the Sooners keeping it close, and pulling away in the 4th quarter for a win. The Sooners are the more balanced team offensively and defensively, with the more experienced quarterback.

While Sooners are more confident after the past four games, other Big 12 coaches recognize Oklahoma’s talent. The Sooners playoff aspirations after a 15 year national title dry spell, are still admittedly a long shot, but possible.

“That’s a really good football team we played, and to beat a team like that, you can’t many mistakes,” Iowa State head  coach Paul Rhodes said.

Here’s to hoping that’s what other coaches continue to say about the Sooners over the final month of the season as they try to fight their way into the College Football Playoff. Some pundits believe OU can be this year’s Ohio State (one early season loss before rolling to a National Title). After the dominance we’ve seen the past month … why not?

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