We all witnessed it, but it still feels like it was some sort of dream or something.
The Oklahoma Sooners took down the Baylor Bears on Saturday 34-31 after falling behind 28-3 (PTSD for us Atlanta Falcons fans) in the first half. It was the largest comeback in the very long and storied history of the Oklahoma football team.
The first 20 minutes of game time almost couldn’t have gone any worse for OU, with the Bears smashing Oklahoma in the face with fast and furious touchdowns and turnovers. It looked for all the world that on that night, it had all come together for Matt Rhule’s Bears and they simply were not going to be beaten on their home ground.
Sooner fans everywhere were clamoring for Jalen Hurts to be benched, and proclaiming that the OU defense would officially be broken forever. But, as everyone knows by now, it turned around very quickly.
The first and second halves were night and day different, and Oklahoma came flying back to outscore the Bears 24-0 in the second half and escape Waco with their College Football Playoff dreams still intact. It was arguably the greatest single win in the Lincoln Riley era, all things considered.
But, as great as that win was, it’s over and gone now. The Sooners are still very much alive in the CFP hunt (albeit needing help still), and must now quickly turn their attention to the TCU Horned Frogs who come into Norman for Oklahoma’s final home game on Saturday.
The easy thing to do for OU right now is to look ahead to the two massive games left on the docket: Bedlam next Saturday night in Stillwater, and the very likely Baylor rematch in the Big 12 Championship game. They must find a way to avoid that against Gary Patterson’s squad, and here’s why:
TCU is a Strong 5-5
I know, I know, at the end of the day you are what your record says you are.
But, not all 5-5 teams are created equal, and TCU is as strong a 5-5 team as there is in the country. Their record could easily be better than it is as they have been oh so close to picking up several key wins.
After their blowout loss to Iowa State, the Horned Frogs had a bye week. Whatever Gary Patterson said to the team in that week off has mostly worked, despite them being 2-3 in the span since then.
Start it out on October 19, when they took a trip to Manhattan to take on Kansas State. The game was 17-17 in the final minutes before Skylar Thompson ran in a touchdown to give the Wildcats the 24-17 lead with 2:45 left, and they held on to win by that score. Kansas State is a solid team, obviously beating Oklahoma earlier this year, and TCU almost took them down on the road.
The next week, they hosted the Texas Longhorns, and took it to them. Texas went into Fort Worth probably taking the Horned Frogs a little lightly, and it bit them. TCU knocked off the Longhorns 37-27.
Three weeks ago, the Horned Frogs were in Stillwater and had the Cowboys in a tie game 17-17 at the half. If it wasn’t for Chuba Hubbard ripping off two long touchdown runs of 92 and 62 yards, the Horned Frogs may have very well pulled off the upset there also, but nevertheless Oklahoma State prevailed 34-27.
After that the then-undefeated Baylor Bears hosted TCU, and the Horned Frogs held the Bears to nine points in regulation, and it took triple overtime for Baylor to remain unblemished.
Then last week TCU nearly let a sizeable lead slip away against Texas Tech in Lubbock, but were able to hold on and pick up the 33-31 win.
Bottom line, they always play people close, even opponents who seem stronger on paper.
Bedlam Might be Toughest Game Left
With all due to respect to Baylor and the impending rematch, playing Oklahoma State in Stillwater is probably the toughest hurdle let for the Sooners to clear – making it just that much more juicy to let the focus linger over to the Cowboys.
Oklahoma dominates the Bedlam rivalry historically, but it is still an emotional game. Also, frankly, Oklahoma State is a solid team.
They have had some rough performances, but they have also had some good ones, and the same can be said for their young quarterback Spencer Sanders, who has shown a capability of being a dynamic playmaker.
Not to mention the Pokes feature maybe the best running back in college football in Chuba Hubbard, who is bound to break at least a few big plays.
Pair him with the rising Sanders, and it is not hard to believe the Oklahoma defense could have problems. They got it together in the second half last week, but in the first half against Baylor, QB Charlie Brewer was running WILD.
Skylar Thompson had similar success despite only having 39 yards when Kansas State upset Oklahoma, for he found himself in the endzone 4 times.
Simply put, the QB run game has given Oklahoma some fits this year, and Spencer Sanders has had some flashy runs this season showing an ability to carry the rock.
Oklahoma has defeated Oklahoma State four consecutive years, but the past two meetings (the only two that are Lincoln Riley vs Mike Gundy) have been barn burners, and it very likely will be again next Saturday.
As you can see by the direction this article has gone, it is hard to not look ahead to Bedlam in Stillwater next week.
Everyone is excited for it, fans, media, and you just know the players are too. But, this week is going to be a big challenge for both the Cowboys and Sooners to stay focused on the task at hand.
Both teams are playing opponents they should beat: OU hosting TCU and OSU traveling to West Virginia. They both are susceptible to falling into the classic trap of looking ahead to the big matchup the following week. We’ve seen teams do it through the years, even just this season with the Wisconsin shocker to Illinois the week before the Badgers took on Ohio State coming to mind.
As far as how I think Oklahoma will do this Saturday against TCU, I think Oklahoma wins but not in total blowout fashion.
TCU is better than their record indicates as we touched on, and Gary Patterson always has his team ready to play. An outmatched TCU team kept it close for a long awhile with Oklahoma a year ago, and I feel it could be like that again.
Not to mention that this TCU team is desperate to win another game, currently needing one win in their last two games to ensure a bowl appearance.
I don’t think OU fans will ever have to get too worried, but I think TCU keeps it reasonably close and Oklahoma wins it somewhere between 15-20 points.
This team has been really hard to predict week to week so who really knows what is going to happen, but it should be an interesting matchup in the final Sooners home game of 2019.
The Oklahoma Sooners host the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium at 7:00 on FOX, and can be heard over the air as always right here on 107.7 The Franchise.