Oklahoma’s defense has taken its deserved share of criticism this year. And in Saturday’s 38-20 win over Oklahoma State, which clinched a second consecutive conference title, the Sooners didn’t stone their in-state rivals.
The stats won’t wow anyone: The Cowboys generated 6.5 yards per play, including nearly six yards every time they ran the ball.
The Sooner D acquitted still acquitted itself pretty well, though.
Oklahoma ended the game with 38 points and 629 yards of total offense, but it took the O plenty of time to find its footing. Losing all-everything receiver Dede Westbrook in the first half put a crimp in the passing game for a long stretch of the game. The Sooners pounded out 341 yards on the ground, but the running game didn’t really get cranking until the second half.
In the meantime, the defense managed to hold it together for the entire game, including allowing just five conversions on a combined 17 third- and fourth-down attempts. Outside pass rusher Obo Okoronkwo keyed the defensive effort on money downs, sacking OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph twice and harassing him on multiple other occasions. Meanwhile, inside linebacker Jordan Evans solidified his position on the All-Big 12 team with eight tackles, including a sack, to go along with patrolling the middle of field in passing situations.
Baker Mayfield and the OU offense carried the team the majority of this season. All in all, they played superb ball once again in the final regular season game of the year. Even so, OU probably wouldn’t be celebrating a 10th Big 12 championship under Bob Stoops without the defense’s solid showing.
*Truth be told, Mike Gundy and his offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich probably did OU’s defense a favor by getting away from running backs Justice Hill and Chris Carson as the game wore on.
*Seeing Parrish Cobb in the game at cornerback after Jordan Parker went down stunned me. More stunning: The Pokes didn’t really attack him. Again, not Gundy’s best day.
*Obo made a solid closing argument for Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. I have no idea how voters can pick a winner for that in a conference where the common metrics of production don’t really apply.
*If Samaje Perine hadn’t already decided to leave for the NFL, I wouldn’t be shocked if this game made his mind up for him. He has taken a hell of a lot of punishment in the last three years.
*On the other hand, the second half of the season might mean Jordan Thomas is coming back for another season in Norman. More of the same yesterday – just way too inconsistent.
*I imagine Bill Bedenbaugh lit some of his guys up at halftime. The offensive line looked like an entirely different unit in the third and fourth quarters.
*I have no idea what to make of OU’s receiving corps next season. Mayfield targeted Geno Lewis frequently following Westbrook’s injury. It’s not clear how much he trusts the guys who are returning, and there’s a reason for that.
*Nick Saban has a chance to pull it off at Alabama, but I doubt we’ll see many more coaches win 10 conference championships at the same school any time soon.