Sooners knockout Pokes, but playoffs may be just out of reach

By Michael Kinney

NORMAN – On the eve before Bedlam, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops gathered his team together. With the matchup with rival Oklahoma State taking place the next day, the Sooners skipper wanted his squad in the right frame of mind.

Instead of the normal movies most football teams watch, Stoops had his Sooners watching highlights of of some of the greatest boxers throughout history. Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran, Muhammad Ali and Thomas Hearns just to name a few.

According to his players, Stoops wanted his team ready for a fight. With so much on the line, he wanted OU to take it to the Cowboys.

It took a little while for the Sooners to that level, but once they did they proceeded to knockout the Cowboys on the way to a second straight Big title as they won 38-20.

“We’ve been through a lot this year, but we kept fighting,” Ogbonnia Okoromkwo said. “That’s like the ‘MO’ of our team. We keep fighting. We want a dog fight every week. Before the game we watch boxing videos. That’s how we see it. We’re ready to go into a slug match with anybody. That’s not what we want to do, but if need be, we’re ready.”

The win secured a second straight Big 12 championship and 10th overall, which the players are extremely proud of being able to accomplish.

“Words can’t describe how happy I am for the team and me being a part of the Sooners,” Steven Parker said. “It’s a dream come true. Won two back to back. It’s crazy, it’s cool.”

For most of the first quarter, the Oklahoma offense was vanilla and uninspired. But on the last play of the quarter, Westbrook caught a simple 12 yard pass. As Oklahoma State tried to bring him down, an altercation between Westbrook and Lenzy Pimpkins led to pushing and trash talking.

The very first play of the second quarter, a hyped up Westbrook and Mayfield connected for a 69 yard touchdown pass to give Oklahoma a 7-3 advantage.

That would be the last big play Westbrook would make. In the second quarter, he was blasted while going for a pass coming across the middle of the field. No flag was thrown and Westbrook had to be helped off the field. He didn’t return the rest of the game.

“Nobody’s ever belly-ached about it and had a negative thing to say about it,” Stoops said. “No one says anything about our luck. It doesn’t matter. Think anybody’s going to be feeling bad for us when we’re missing a guy? We’ve missed all kinds of guys this year. I lost count. I couldn’t even keep up with how many we’ve been down throughout the whole year. It doesn’t matter. In the end, we still got a win, and our guys have done that.”

With less than a minute left in the half, Mayfield took the Sooners on a scoring drive that ended with him throwing a TD pass to Geno Lewis. Game was tied at 17-17 going into halftime.

“He’s (Mayfield) really good at buying time and slinging the ball down the field,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “They’ve got a couple of guys that are pretty elusive in space and truthfully that’s what it came down to.”

Coming out of halftime, Perine scored and Mixon caught a TD pass to give OU a 14 point lead.

The Sooners were able to put the game away with a strong defensive performance in the fourth quarter and a 79 yard touchdown run by Mixon. Perine, who had a season high 239 yards rushing, could have scored again, but he took a knee at the end of the game.

Westbrook finished with 111 yards and a score. Mayfield threw for 288 and three touchdowns as the two Heisman candidates gave the committee something to think about.

“That’s the best I’ve seen him play,” Stoops said of Mayfield, who announced he will return next year. “He didn’t really throw a bunch. He threw it 19 times and 18 of those were spot on. His decision making was outstanding.” He was awesome.”

Despite that, when the College Football Playoff Rankings were announced Sunday morning, the Sooners were not ranked in the top six. According to CFP chairman Kirby Holcutt, it was due to Oklahoma’s porous defense throughout the season.

“Realistically,” Stoops said, “probably more needed to happen last week to give us a better opportunity.”

That means the Sooners will play an SEC squad in the Sugar Bowl Jan. 2 in New Orleans.

Story appeared in The Yukon Review

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