WACO — Oklahoma’s College Football Playoff dreams have landed with a dull thud.
Offensive struggles plagued the No. 8-ranked Sooners all day long as Lincoln Riley again was outwitted by Dave Aranda’s defense, this time resulting in a 27-14 Baylor victory at McLane Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Sooners failed their biggest test of the season to date, as they were unable to move the ball with any consistency on the No. 13-ranked Bears.
Fully healthy again off the bye week, injuries were no excuse this week as the Sooners were flat-out beat by Baylor.
Here are three takeaways from Oklahoma’s first loss of the season.
Caleb Williams Looked Human
Oklahoma’s self-proclaimed “Superman” struggled mightily against the best defense he’s played in his career.
He started off the game about as poorly as could be drawn up, just throwing up a jump ball into double coverage and getting picked off on his second pass of the game.
Williams looked to steady the ship, marching the Sooners right down the field for a touchdown on the fourth offensive possession of the game, but that would represent the end of the success the true freshman would have.
The troubles were compounded on the first drive of the second half when Williams got picked off again after it looked like he was just trying to throw the ball away to the far sideline.
Riley turned back to Spencer Rattler at the end of the third quarter, hoping his preseason QB1 could provide a spark for the OU offense.
At the time of his replacement, Williams had completed just 8-of-17 passes, throwing for 84 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions.
Rattler didn’t fare much better than his counterpart, as he finished 4-of-6 passing for only 36 yards.
Williams did return for OU’s final offensive drive, taking Oklahoma 75 yards down the field in four plays to tack on a garbage-time touchdown.
OU’s Defense Did Their Part for Three Quarters
After stacking poor performance after poor performance in October, the Oklahoma defense came to play in Waco.
Cornerback Woodi Washington returned to the fold, and OU was operating at as close to full strength as they’ve been all year long, and the defense did everything they could to keep Baylor within striking distance for most of the game.
Though they gave up 298 rushing yards, Alex Grinch’s defense came up with a timely fourth-down stop on the first drive of the game and a pair of turnovers to keep the dam from breaking through the first three quarters.
Baylor quarterback Gerry Bohanon did most of his damage on the ground, as he was held to 12-of-21 passing for 117 yards, tossing a touchdown and an interception. Bohanon moved the chains over and over again with his legs and finished the day with 107 yards on the ground.
But eventually, the defense relented.
On the second play of the fourth quarter, Baylor running back Abram Smith gashed Grinch’s defense for a 75-yard run up the gut, setting up a Bohanon 5-yard rushing touchdown to push the lead to 17-7.
The second touchdown of the day for the Baylor offense proved to be all they would need to seal the victory over the hapless Sooner offense, but Bohanon added a second touchdown run with 3:57 left in the game to send the Sooners packing.
Smith finished the day with 148 yards on the ground, another impressive performance for one of the premier running backs in the Big 12.
Championship November No More
The Baylor victory snapped a 23-game Oklahoma winning streak in November, dating all the way back to 2014.
And while the Sooners are far from out of the hunt for the Big 12 Championship, as they still control their own path back to Arlington, it’s likely OU will miss the College Football Playoff for the second straight season.
The road ahead doesn’t get any easier for the Sooners, however.
Up next Oklahoma will return home to face an Iowa State team that has given the Sooners fits under head coach Matt Campbell, and the Cyclones are playing their best ball of the season headed into November.
A week later, the Sooners will have to travel to Stillwater to play the No. 10 Oklahoma State Cowboys, who boast the Big 12’s best defense in what could be the final Bedlam game ever played in Boone Pickens Stadium.
If the Sooners can’t dig deep and find an answer over the next seven days, a season that began with hopes of winning the program’s eighth national championship could turn from disappointing to embarrassing in a hurry.