The Sooners are ready to scratch another revenge game off the list with a victory. Oklahoma ﬁnished last season 8-5, but to many Sooner fans, “Big Game Bob” was loosing his touch.
The miraculous mid-season turn around proves Oklahoma fans can continue to trust Head Coach Bob Stoops because he is ready to be 12-1 after December 31 in Miami. The Texas loss hurt the Sooners less after Baylor attempted to scramble around the ﬁeld with a wide receiver at quarterback, but Baylor HC Art Briles did not have the touch to give his WR the tricks to being a QB.
Now the Sooners are the four seed, heading into the playoffs the favorite. Oklahoma travels to Florida for New Year’s Eve, to face Clemson for the second post-season game in a row. The Sooners are 2-2 against the Tigers, but 0-1 under Stoops.
If the Sooners are as dominant as talked about, why isn’t Oklahoma holding the ﬁrst spot?
The Oklahoma fumble, stumble and choke against Texas was miserable. Texas ﬁnished the season 7-5, after somehow overturning the once-powerful Baylor.
The Bears were on life support without a quarterback to play, and the Longhorns took advantage of that. The playoff committee might have look less highly on the powerful Sooner victory over the Bears.
Whatever the case, Oklahoma is in. It has been talked to death, but the Sooners needed the Texas loss to power through the rest of the season. Oklahoma was striding against opponents like Tennessee and West Virginia, but the Sooners were sprinting toward the end.Even Mayﬁeld was blocking defenders and running toward the end zone against Oklahoma State.
Can the Sooners ﬁght with the big dogs after playing Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State with backup quarterbacks?
It depends. The argument circulates that Oklahoma was victorious against Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State because each team was lacking its starting QB. But it’s an invalid argument. Baylor backup QB Jarrett Stidham traveled to Manhattan completing 70% of his passes, passing for 419 yards and accounting for 3 touchdowns.
The offense was ﬁnding its rhythm with a new quarterback, and were able to perform much better than expected. In this case, the Bears squeaked by the Wildcats because of a minimal performance by the Baylor defense, allowing 24 points. TCU’s powerful starting QB Trevone Boykin was out against the Sooners in Norman, but then Mayﬁeld only lasted throughout the ﬁrst half.
Both teams were lacking their starting QB and the Sooners managed to tip the ﬁnal two-point conversion, hats-off to CB Steven Parker, to ﬁnish with a win.
Oklahoma State’s dual threat QB system between QB J.W. Walsh and QB Mason Rudolph was not able to ﬁnd the speed against the Sooner’s defense.
Rudolph was able to play one drive. The QB did not complete any of his three passes and threw one interception. Walsh completed 25 for 42 of his passes, accounted for two touchdowns and one interception. The Cowboys were anything but impressive in Stillwater.
So Clemson QB Deshaun Watson didn’t win the Heisman. But what is all the talk about?
The Sooners have it made with QB Baker Mayﬁeld. Watson might get more talk time on ESPN, but Mayﬁeld is trailing him in stats for the 2015 season less than 200 yards. Mayﬁeld leads Watson by 5 TD’s and has 6 fewer INT’s during the regular season.
Watson, at times, is able to put up more powerful numbers in less than impressive games than Mayﬁeld is able to do, but the Sooners’ #6 is more consistent through games and is not the only player making a splash on the ﬁeld during play time.
Clemson is 6th on the ESPN Football Power Index, while Oklahoma is ranked ﬁrst. Clemson is a dominant team because the Tigers started out number one during the season, clung to their spot and managed to stay undefeated.
The Sooners have been able to come off one loss more powerful than other teams have been able to. Stat wise, the difference is minimal. Oklahoma has been a powerhouse, but the real question is whether the Sooners will fair well with three weeks off.
The Sooners were gaining momentum with each win after falling to Texas. Kansas State gave Oklahoma the power to keep moving and the win pushed the Sooners toward wins against Texas Tech, Kansas, Iowa State, Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State. With three weeks off, now it is about maintaining the energy against Clemson. The Tigers played one more game than Oklahoma which will give the team less down time.
Clemson leads the Sooners on third-down conversions which could be a soft spot for Oklahoma. Stoops seems to give up on third downs and set the team up to punt away the ball.
This will be a small dent in the Oklahoma armor if the Sooners aren’t able to power out plays on ﬁrst downs, as the team has been able to do to throughout the season. Did you see that reverse ﬂea ﬂicker for 75 yards against Iowa State? The Sooners powerful ﬁrst drive against the Cyclones set the tone early in the matchup.
But now the Sooners have another thing motivating them: their QB was not invited to New York City for the Heisman, which could be the best thing for the Oklahoma. Junior CB Zack Sanchez tweeted shortly after the Heisman invitations were announced that Oklahoma has another cause to win on NYE.
So what is this talk of Sooner Magic heading into the playoffs?
The stars seem to be aligning for Sooner fans all across the nation.
In 2000, Oklahoma started off 19 in the polls. In 2015, the Sooners started off 19 in the polls. In 2000, the Sooners traveled to the Orange Bowl for the National Title.
In 2015, Oklahoma is gearing up for a rematch against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. In 2000, famed Oklahoma QB, who became the Sooners OC later, Josh Heupel was passed up for the Heisman trophy.
In 2015, Mayﬁeld was passed up for the weekend in NYC. For the Sooners not seeing Mayﬁeld in NYC could be a blessing.
In 2003, QB Jason White won the Heisman, well-deservedly, but Oklahoma went to the national title game and lost to LSU. In 2008, QB Sam Bradford won the Heisman, and Oklahoma went on to the national title game against Florida to lose.
If the stars are aligning for the Sooners, it will be even better against Clemson DC Brent Venables. Venables was the co-defensive coordinator for Oklahoma in the 2000 BCS Championship game against Florida State.