On a surprisingly warm Ohio afternoon, it was Brent Venables and the Oklahoma Sooners that won the day, holding the Cincinnati offense without a touchdown in a 20-6 victory.
Through four games the Sooners’ defense has been consistently stymying, and is holding opponents to just 8.5 points per game after today’s performance.
No. 16 Oklahoma (4-0) will head back to Norman to host Iowa State next week, while Cincinnati (2-2) will hit the road and head to Provo for a matchup with BYU.
Here are three thoughts on the game and what it means for each team going forward.
The Oklahoma Defense is Legit
After the Sooners finished their nonconference slate, there were plenty of believers in Norman that the defense was, indeed, fixed. However, folks outside of the Sooner State weren’t so sure, as many felt that they needed to see the unit perform against some better competition. That is exactly the kind of challenge that the Bearcats presented, but the Sooner defense is still shining after Week 4. OU held Cincinnati to 3-15 on third down and 1-4 on fourth down tries, and forced an interception and field goal attempts each time the Bearcats threatened to score. It was the first time that UC has been held without an offensive touchdown since they played Alabama in the 2020 College Football Playoff semifinals.
Emory Jones Will Have to be More Efficient
On the flip side of this equation, Cincinnati quarterback Emory Jones must be more efficient if the Bearcats are going to get out of the rut they find themselves in. Against Oklahoma, Jones went 22-41 and threw for 235 yards and two interceptions. He was the Bearcats’ leading rusher but turned 15 carries into just 42 yards (2.8 yards per carry). There were times when he missed open receivers, overthrew chances for big plays, and potentially left some points on the field. Sure, it was against a much-improved Oklahoma defense, but there were chances that he simply missed. With a road trip to BYU coming next week, he won’t have much time to get things going before the next stiff challenge.
OU Running Game Has Some Things to Figure Out
It’s always better to make adjustments after a win, but the Sooners offense does have some things to figure out. The first, and biggest concern is the lack of a running game. Today, OU turned 34 carries into 104 yards (3.1 yards per carry) and once again failed to create a ton of space in the running game. Historically, Oklahoma has been one of the better-rushing teams in the country, but they’ve yet to get things going there to this point. Luckily, the Sooners’ offense can certainly throw the football, as Dillon Gabriel turned in another good day through the air, completing 68.4% with 321 yards and a score. As long as he continues to turn in those types of performances, Oklahoma will have time to get things figured out with the running game.