It wasn’t pretty, but the Oklahoma Sooners took care of business on Saturday night in Waco against the Baylor Bears with a 49-41 road win.
The Sooners allowed 463 passing yards, including passing touchdowns of 19, 71 and 72 yards. Entering the game, Oklahoma was in the top ten in the nation allowing 110 passing yards per game. But the secondary struggled mightily, headlined by Jordan Thomas.
Expect this to be the game plan for Oklahoma opponents going forward. Baylor went ahead with a nothing-to-lose attitude and took plenty of shots downfield, hitting on enough to keep it close.
Last week defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said, “You’ve got to be able to cover people. There’s only so much help available to your secondary the way the game is stretch and try to be able to still attack the run game and be good in the secondary. So the better cover guys you have the better opportunities your going to have and the better your secondary is going to be.”
It’s like Stoops was forecasting what was to come. The Sooners’ cover guys had plenty of issues on Saturday night.
Even the offense had a Jekyll and Hyde evening. The unit did it’s part early on for OU, scoring 21 points on their first seven plays of the game. But it slowly deteriorated from there, with Lincoln Riley admitting he got antsy, saying, “I didn’t do a very good job in the second quarter, I got a little impatient. I didn’t put our guys in a great position. They made some adjustments defensively and it took me too long to catch up. I gotta do better.”
Despite TCU’s win road win over Oklahoma State on Saturday, this is still Oklahoma’s conference. It’s been over 700 days since this team lost a Big 12 game. Plus, when you throw in the most impressive win in college football this season, a thrashing of Ohio State in the Horseshoe, expectations for Oklahoma are College Football Playoff or bust.
But it will be the kind of season where OU fans are on the edge of their seats more often than they’d like, or should be. It’s a young group, and between the learning curve and maybe reading their own headlines too often, a team can go into a game like Baylor on Saturday night, see an 0-3 squad struggling, and take it for granted. But that’s OK, it happens to the best of them. As long as the outcome remains the same as it did in Waco on Saturday night it doesn’t always have to be pretty, but just keep winning.
So when Lincoln Riley was asked after the game Saturday “how far are you from being a great team?”, the head coach responded, “I don’t know how you define it. We still got a ways to go. We’re still too inconsistent. Our trust level right now as far as doing our job, we got good intentions, but we veer off on our own too much right now. We’re all still kind of learning about our team right now… we’re a work in progress.”
Often times in college football our favorite team(s) get a great win early in the season and we anoint them. OU certainly did that a couple weeks ago, but as Riley pointed out, this team turned over so many key pieces from the 2016 season, it is still a work in progress. Sure it’s a work in progress that has the talent and ability to win a Big 12 championship, reach the College Football Playoff and compete for a National Championship, but it’s a work in progress, nonetheless.
There are going to be games this season where OU doesn’t look like that team that dominated in Columbus in early September. With the improvement of teams like Iowa State and Texas Tech, there are no easy games left on the schedule, outside of the Kansas Jayhawks.
So Oklahoma fans need to understand that, buckle your seatbelt and enjoy the ride. There will be some turbulence, but this team is still in the driver’s seat in the Big 12 conference, until proven otherwise.