The Sooners ran into a really solid Houston team last week and came up short against Tom Herman’s fired up Cougars, losing their tougher than normal season opener, 33-23.
With the benefit of hindsight, it’s not a huge surprise that OU fell short against Houston, a talented, focused team with supreme confidence, a red-hot coach, a dangerous QB and the desire to add another win over a college football power to their resume.
What is surprising is the way it all came apart for the Sooners.
With Joe Mixon running like a triple crown thoroughbred and Baker Mayfield looking sharp under center, the Oklahoma offense was humming early.
However, after the disastrous kick six return of a missed Austin Seibert field goal, a couple fumbles and costly penalties, OU’s offense (especially Mayfield and OC Lincoln Riley) went into panic mode.
Mayfield held onto the ball too long looking for big plays, instead of making the easier ones. Riley, like last year against Texas, appeared to abandon the run game too early.
Meanwhile, the Sooner defense, blistered by UH QB Greg Ward Jr. in the first half, settled down and played better in the second, only to be undone by costly penalties and poor play at corner.
Think OU fans would love to see sometimes embattled corner Zac Sanchez back again?
Sure, it’s just one loss to a now top-10 team, but it’s one that puts the Sooners squarely behind the Eight-ball in terms of staying alive in the college football playoff race.
Is this going to be one of those years when a highly ranked OU team fails to live up to the hype and falls short?
You won’t get the answer when the Sooners host Louisiana-Monroe Saturday night, but most questions will be answered when week three comes around.
September 17th is when Ohio State rolls into Norman.
Oklahoma is going to need a much better Mayfield, a solution at corner, and has to play much smarter, focused football to beat the Buckeyes.
And then there’s matter of going to TCU and facing an improved Texas team in the two games after Ohio State.
A huge challenge for sure, meaning the Sooners need a quick fix, like NASCAR pit stop fast to get back on track.
OU has the talent to get it done.
And this front loaded schedule gives the Sooners a chance to get three quality wins by the time they leave the Cotton Bowl.
It that happens, OU is right back on the lead lap hanging with the front runners.
If it doesn’t, the dream of another appearance in the college football playoff ends early for Oklahoma.