As much as I despise the “find a way to win” trope, I don’t know how else to describe Oklahoma’s 62-52 win in the 2017 Bedlam game.
The running game has been better. So has Baker Mayfield. The defense? Yeesh.
The Sooners still chucked the ball all over the lot and came up with a few timely defensive plays. When the smoke cleared from a classic Big 12 shootout, they stole away from Stillwater with yet another victory over their in-state rivals.
While No. 6 will get all the pub following the win, his receivers made the difference in this game. Marquise Brown (nine receptions, 265 yards, two touchdowns) burned the Cowboys’ defensive backs repeatedly and looked every bit of the threat who was promised when he arrived in Norman in the spring. Tight end Mark Andrews came up with 102 yards off of just three grabs. CeeDee Lamb and Mykel Jones also had a slew of clutch receptions throughout the game to keep the chains moving.
For every throw on Mayfield’s highlight reel from this game, you’ll probably find just as many examples of receivers running sharp routes and competing for catches. That includes fullback Dmitri Flowers and OU’s running backs, too.
OU’s maturing receiving corps and a complementary stable of runners combine with Mayfield and a solid line to give the Sooners the most potent offense in the country. That gives them a shot against any team they might face this year, even with all their struggles on the other side of the ball.
*I guess I should start with the secondary… Ugh. Mason Rudolph and the OSU receiving corps victimized starting cornerbacks Parnell Motely and Jordan Thomas for the entire time the duo were on the field. Their declines have been stunning.
True freshmen Tre Norwood and Tre Brown held up well as their replacements, but I don’t have faith that they can do that on a weekly basis from here on out.
*If safety Kahlil Houghton has to sit out next week against TCU, that constitutes a serious blow to the defense. I’d maintain that he has played better on a week-to-week basis this year than any other member of the secondary - pay attention to how the unit functions when he’s not out there.
Given that Will Johnson has to miss the first half of the upcoming game as a result of his targeting ejection, it could get (or maybe I should say "stay") real dicey versus the Horned Frogs.
*One of the more surprising developments of the day to me was how well OSU’s defensive line performed. The guys up front shut down OU’s interior running game. That would have made more of a difference if the Sooners didn’t have so much success converting in passing situations.
*Austin Seibert continues to look like he got a major infusion of confidence in recent weeks. He was on point again versus the Aggies.
And while we’re on the subject of special teams, the Sooners rarely get big plays out of the return game. Very frustrating.
*Another guy coming into his own: defensive end D.J. Ward. He’s doing more to collapse the pocket from the edge and is actually getting to the quarterback on occasion.
*Mayfield has a strange proclivity for taking sacks in the red zone. I get the idea of wanting to let Baker be Baker, but those plays are so damaging to the offense. For example, the pick he threw in the fourth quarter at the goal line came after a sack on the preceding play, which enabled the Pokes to put more defenders in passing lanes.
*The review process in college football is interminable, and it seems even worse in the Big 12. Fox adding Dean Blandino to the mix as the world’s least helpful rules analyst only enhances the experience.