Like Sooner Nation, Lincoln Riley is still processing exactly what happened on Saturday afternoon at Owen Field.
After the Kansas State Wildcats erased a 21-point third-quarter deficit to topple the Sooners 38-35, center Creed Humphrey said the team had "no choice but to go back to work." As the Sooners try to recover from their first home loss since 2017, Riley is simply eager for a shot to get back on the gridiron this weekend.
“Obviously got a long way to go as a team," said Riley. "This is a long journey ahead. … Saturday at 6:30 cannot come soon enough.”
The Sooners will go up against an Iowa State team that's riding an emotional high, as the Cyclones bested TCU 37-34 in a thrilling back-and-forth affair last weekend. Conversely, Oklahoma is at a low point, fresh off the inexplicable loss to a 28-point underdog. And if there's one thing that Riley is emphasizing this week, it's that his team has to play to their standard for 60 minutes.
“When you go back and look at it, it’s not like you say this one thing cost us," Riley said of the loss. "Both sides of the ball made some really horrendous mistakes that ended up giving Kansas State life.”
Indeed, Oklahoma turned the ball over four times, failed to convert a fourth-and-1, and had a punt blocked. Coverage breakdowns in the Sooner secondary allowed Kansas State to rip off multiple big plays that eventually produced five consecutive scoring drives. For a team that entered the season with CFP expectations, the performance was at best uncharacteristic and at worst disheartening. Nevertheless, Riley isn't convinced that the Sooners' lapses are indicative of a trend.
“I have confidence in our guys," said Riley. "It’s certainly not like we haven’t been mistake-free. We’ve made some mistakes. We have to be better, but [those mistakes are] very correctable. I’m confident that our guys will get those things done.”
In his second career start, Spencer Rattler threw three interceptions, becoming the first Oklahoma quarterback to do so since Trevor Knight in the 2014 Russell Athletic Bowl. However, there was plenty of good with the bad, as Rattler completed nearly 75 percent of his passes and slung four touchdowns.
“This is just a natural evolution of a quarterback," Riley said. "This is what happens. 85 to 90 percent of what Spencer did was either really good or fabulous on Saturday. … I’m really excited about a lot of the things he’s doing.”
Though Riley is encouraged by the positives, they certainly don't take away the sting of a bitter defeat. Offensive tackle Adrian Ealy said "we left a lot on the field" last Saturday, and now the Sooners must turn their attention to a hungry Iowa State team that's looking to hand the Sooners a second consecutive loss for the first time in a blue moon. Oklahoma hasn't lost two straight regular-season games since 1999.
“A loss like that, where you really gave away a golden opportunity to win a game - it hits you different," Riley acknowledged. "The type of team that you’re going to be is defined by your response.”
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