Big 12 Sports Articles

Spencer Rattler’s Stunning Fall From Grace

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Oklahoma

 This was supposed to be Spencer Rattler’s big year. Coming into the season, he was the Heisman Trophy favorite and a shoe-in to become one of the top picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.

When you are at a school like Oklahoma, talent is rarely an issue. The roster is full of four and five-star talent and there is no shortage of five-star quarterbacks wanting to play for the quarterback whisperer Lincoln Riley.

Spencer was also a five-star quarterback coming out of Arizona and by the time he stepped on campus in 2019, fans were already ready to see him play. In his freshman year, he would backup Jalen Hurts, and despite people clamoring for him to play over Jalen, he did not see the field much in 2019.

 

Looking Back on 2020

Last year was his first year as a starter and like any first-year starter, there were going to be ups and downs. In fact, going into the Texas game last season, the Sooners were fresh off back-to-back losses against Kansas State and Iowa State.

Yet despite the 1-2 start, Lincoln Riley was still behind Spencer Rattler. Then the Red River Rivalry happened and even though Spencer got benched, he bounced back and helped the Sooners win a wild four-overtime game.

From there, Spencer never looked back as Oklahoma would go on to win the rest of their games and roll to a sixth-straight Big 12 title. While last year’s team didn’t make the playoff due to their slow start, they ended the 2020 season on a high note defeating Florida in the Cotton Bowl.

 

2021 Expectations

With those performances he had last season come expectations. When you play quarterback at the University of Oklahoma there is a certain standard that has to be met. Why? Because when you play the same position as that has produced two Heisman winners in the last five years at your school, you have to play at a high level or else it’s next man up.

This was the year where the stars aligned for Oklahoma. From the defense to the special teams, this was going to be the best Oklahoma team on paper since 2008. If anyone had any question about this team, it was on defense because nobody in their right mind thought the offense would be much of an issue at all.

Sometimes teams end up being better on paper than what they actually are. No matter what, games still have to be played. If games were all played on paper, then we would just crown Alabama the champion almost every year, but it (usually) doesn’t work like that.

2021 was set up to be “National Title or Bust” for Oklahoma. There is no other way around it when you bring nearly your entire team back from last year. Spencer was supposed to be the guy who led this team to the promise land and so far, he hasn’t showed that he is capable of doing that. Yes, the Sooners are still undefeated, but it hasn’t been because of Spencer’s play. In fact, it’s been in spite of it.

From the first game up until now, Spencer Rattler has not been the guy who we saw in 2020. He has played in six games and if you take out the Western Carolina game, Spencer has thrown for five touchdowns and five interceptions. That doesn’t sound like a statistic I would expect from the starting quarterback at Oklahoma.

Even with all the “We want Caleb” chants coming from Norman, Spencer was still the guy for Lincoln Riley going into the Texas game on Saturday. That all changed by the second quarter. By that point, Oklahoma was down 35-17 and Spencer Rattler had a total of seven drives in the game. Two of those seven drives ended in turnovers and two ended in three in outs. When the second turnover happened, Lincoln Riley decided to make a change.

Red River Shocker

That change ended up being the right call because true freshman Caleb Williams led the Sooners to a comeback for the ages and made the most of his opportunities. Caleb got nine offensive drives and led his team to score on seven of those drives.

Outside of just pure production, it was clear that the team responded differently with Caleb in the game. The energy picked up, the crowd was rocking, and the Sooners looked like a different team offensively. Whether it’s fair to say or not, Oklahoma was not going to come back with Rattler leading the way. In that environment, Caleb Williams is exactly what Oklahoma needed.

 

What Now?

Moving forward, it’s clear that Caleb Williams should be the starter. I will let you decide what you think of Spencer Rattler, but after watching this video, I think his days at Oklahoma may be numbered. I can’t remember the last time I saw a player go from Heisman favorite and potential first round draft pick to being benched in barely a month of play. Maybe he will stick it out at Oklahoma, but in today’s transfer portal world, something tells me that’s unlikely, especially if Lincoln Riley does what he should do starting this weekend against TCU: Make Caleb Williams his QB moving forward.

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