After a stunning defeat in Manhattan, Kansas, what’s next for the Sooners? Is a playoff chance still viable? Can the Sooners run the table and win their fifth consecutive Big 12 title? So many questions, so few answers. However, we will take our best shot.
What’s next for the Sooners-- After giving up a season-high 48 points to the Wildcat offense that came into the game averaging only 20 points in their prior 4 games, the Oklahoma defense will need to regroup. Fortunately, this week is a BYE week. This couldn’t have come at a better time for the group who showed vulnerability in stopping the run and how they defended the pass.
The ability for the Wildcat backs to get to the edge and pick up huge chunks was alarming. Not to mention the poor effort in stopping a quarterback who scored four different times on the ground. Every time the KSU junior QB was near the goal line, it was obvious what play was coming, the defense just couldn’t stop it. The coaching staff, led by Alex Grinch, will need to get back to the drawing boards to figure out what went wrong.
The Cyclones are next, and they present a different challenge-- a true passing attack. Brock Purdy threw 62 times against Oklahoma State in a loss yesterday. Needless to say, the defensive backs will be tested. Purdy also has the ability to run. The Sooners have two weeks to prepare for ISU.
Can Oklahoma still make the playoffs-- After being a 23.5-point favorite and falling short against the Wildcats, the season gets a bit tougher. Below are teams who lost one game and made the playoffs still.
2014- Oregon, Ohio State (Champion), Alabama
2015- Alabama (Champion), Michigan State, Oklahoma
2016- Ohio State, Clemson (Champion), Washington
2017- Alabama (Champion), Clemson, Georgia, Oklahoma
In four of the five years, at least 75% of the teams that made the playoffs, had one loss. One thing we do know about the playoffs-- conference championships matter. Win the Big 12 and the Sooners have a legitimate chance to make it. However, competition this year seems to be tougher than usual.
The loser of Alabama/LSU and PSU/tOSU may only have one loss. The winner of Oregon/Utah could run the table and only have one loss. The SEC West winner could lose their first game in the SEC championship to either Florida or Georgia, who both could finish with one loss. If all the scenarios were to happen, chaos would ensue. The only option for OU is to win out and let the committee decide if they belong in the final-four.
Can the Sooners run the table and win their 5th Big 12 title in a row-- The BYE week is beneficial as OU has some glaring issues on both sides of the ball. The offensive line was manhandled in Manhattan as Hurts was constantly under pressure. The running backs were non-existent. Play calling played into Brooks and Sermon only getting six carries combined, but also being down the entire second half didn’t help either. The defense was poor. The tackling, assignments, lining up, soft coverage and getting out-blocked were the biggest issues that stood out. K-State outplayed the Sooners in every aspect of the game. It’s safe to say that Chris Klieman and his staff outcoached Lincoln Riley and his team.
The next game is a tough one as the Iowa State Cyclones come to Norman, a place where they upset the Sooners in 2017. Both teams will have two weeks to prepare as they are going to be coming off a BYE week. Iowa State is 5-3, all three losses were by a combined 10 points.
After the game against ISU, OU will have to head to Waco to face a Baylor Bears teams that currently sits at 7-0. They have WVU and TCU over the next two weeks. There is a real possibility Oklahoma and Baylor could be a matchup of top-10 squads, as the Bears will more than likely be 9-0 on the season.
The Sooners will finish the season out with TCU and Oklahoma State. OU will be favored in each of the remaining games, but the daunting task of running the table still-remains.
If Oklahoma wants to make it five Big 12 titles in a row and have a chance to seek a third straight final-four, and fourth in five years, winning out is their ONLY option.
-BY AUSTIN WOOD