In September 2008, a pretty good Ole Miss team traveled to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and stole a game that the Florida Gators really had no business losing. Few without a Confederate symbol in the fight remember what happened on the field that day nearly as well as what transpired afterward.
Florida fumbled the ball away three times and had an extra point blocked in the 31-30 loss. The Rebels converted two short fields off of gator turnovers into scores, including a Tim Tebow fumble on the Florida 18-yard line. In the postgame press conference, the quarterback took to the dais, issued a statement now (ridiculously) immortalized somewhere on the Florida campus and took off.
Some swooning pundits later credited Tebow's pledge with being the moment that fueled the Gators' run to a 13-1 season and national championship.
After losing over the weekend to Kansas State, Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones was asked during Monday's press conference if the Sooners can still win the national championship. His response wasn't the stuff that plaques are made of:
Like Gator Jesus, the 'Stache is a religious guy in his own right. But he was smart not to go all fire and brimstone when talking about the remainder of the season. His demeanor is about as rah-rah as a Spalding Gray monologue. He would've sounded ridiculous.
Jones' perfunctory response does seem to match the mood in Sooner Land and general perception of OU, though. Forget winning a national championship or Big 12 title. Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls is now predicting OU will finish the year 6-6. Jake Trotter of ESPN's Sooner Nation is laying out a path to disaster. Bloggers are wondering if the Sooners should keep showing up for games the rest of the year.
Man, was this loss really that bad?
*OU had a slight edge in total yardage (396-377).
*OU had more first downs (25-20).
*Yards per play were almost even between two (5.8 for KSU to 5.7 for OU).
*OU had five drives of more than 50 yards during the game, while Kansas St. had two.
A year ago, Purple Kansas won 10 games in the deepest conference in the country. The team is helmed by one of the best coaches in college football history. Yet, the stats don’t suggest that OU got worked all over the field last Saturday night. This game came down to three mistakes by the quarterbacks in a game where the opponent didn’t make any.
Of course, the problem is that those mistakes weren’t exactly tiny slip-ups. Those kinds of blunders have been occurring far too frequently around Norman as of late. You can get away with them against UTEP – not in the Big 12.
The implications of the Sooners' prolonged stretch of sloppy play are worrisome in the bigger picture. In the here and now, though, getting your ass kicked would be cause for much greater concern. That's not what's happening, and it’s not coachspeak to say that OU’s issues are fixable. Writing off the Sooners’ chances to have a successful season and win a conference title assumes they won’t be.
We can all agree that this OU team is flawed. Losing to KSU won't signify some miraculous turning point in a season where the Sooners roll on to win a national title. This team couldn't touch a squad like the one that Florida had in '08.
But getting back to that point is a discussion for January. For now, there are nine games left in this season. Relax, let the year play out and put your predictions of doom on hold. (For at least two weeks.)