NORMAN, OKLAHOMA – Stunning losses have become a bit of the norm for Oklahoma in recent years…but Saturday’s truly shocking 38-35 loss to Kansas State may top them all.
It was a game that was in doubt all week long due to the Wildcats dealing with some positive tests and contact tracing that looked to potentially disallow them from coming to Norman.
Not only did they make the trip, they came in and left with an all-time win that will be remembered by both schools for a long, long time.
Let’s recap the action before diving into what this loss means long term and some reaction.
Removing a pass tipped at the line of scrimmage for a Kansas State interception on the first possession of the game, it was mostly a textbook beginning to the game for Oklahoma.
Kansas State was forced into some early three and outs, and the Sooners took a 7-0 lead on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Spencer Rattler (30/41, 387 Yards, 4 Touchdowns, 3 Interceptions) to Marvin Mims (5 Receptions, 31 Yards, 2 Touchdowns).
The second quarter got off to a good start for OU as well, as Rattler connected with Drake Stoops (3 Receptions, 93 Yards, 1 Touchdown) on a 32-yard TD toss to put Oklahoma out in front 14-0.
Kansas State would cut into that deficit, though, later on in the quarter when QB Skylar Thompson (18/25, 334 Yards, 1 Touchdown) hooked up with Chabastin Taylor (2 Receptions, 45 Yards, 1 Touchdown) on a 39-yard TD toss to make it 14-7.
This was really the first of what would go on to be several blown coverages in the secondary throughout the game, which was something Lincoln Riley cited after the game as a large key to the Sooners’ loss.
Oklahoma would be able to get their cushion back before the half as Spencer Rattler picked up his third touchdown pass of his four on the afternoon when he hit Marvin Mims for the second time.
OU took a 21-7 lead into the halftime locker room.
The Sooners would extend that lead out even further in the middle of the third quarter when Jeremiah Hall (2 Receptions, 29 Yards, 1 Touchdown) reeled in a 21-yard touchdown reception to make it 28-7 Oklahoma.
Skylar Thompson and Seth McGowan (13 Carries, 73 Yards, 1 Touchdown) would then trade short rushing touchdowns to have it at 35-14 Oklahoma late in the third quarter.
This is where the game would really shift to the Kansas State sideline.
Several long pass plays to incredibly wide open receivers would get the Wildcats into the redzone, and from there it was a steady diet of short runs and QB sneaks.
Thompson would get two more short yardage touchdown runs to suddenly make the game 35-28 early in the fourth quarter.
Despite that, most would have still considered Oklahoma in good shape just needing their offense to put the game away.
Unfortunately for Lincoln Riley and the Sooners, the OU offense turtled in the fourth quarter and was unable to come away with a single score.
After an Oklahoma drive stalled out, the Wildcats would come through with a gigantic blocked punt to give their offense a short field to work with.
It didn’t then take K State long to tie it up, as Deuce Vaughn (8 Carries, 45 Yards, 1 Touchdown) would take a handoff 38 yards to the house to even the game up at 35-35.
Perhaps the most amazing part of this game was that despite the defensive collapse from Oklahoma, the Sooner offense had several chances to try to retake the lead late and was simply unable to move the football.
The Wildcats Kicker Blake Lynch would later hit a 50-yard field goal to push K State ahead 38-35 late in the game.
After Oklahoma’s offense stalled out once again, Lincoln Riley made the surprising decision to punt the ball back to Kansas State despite only having one timeout left.
OU would get the ball back, but would need to go a very long way with less than a minute and no timeouts remaining.
Spencer Rattler would go on to overthrow his intended receiver and the pass was intercepted by the Wildcats, thus ending the game and completing the shocking comeback and upset.
This ended a 53-game winning streak for Oklahoma when leading after three quarters (Oklahoma State in 2014).
Thoughts and Reaction
I mean, what can you really say about this game? It was simply incredible to see it unfold.
For Oklahoma to lose this game to a depleted Kansas State roster is very surprising by itself, but it’s really how they lost the game that stands out to me.
OU did all the things you can’t afford to do when nursing a lead, as Lincoln Riley said himself.
“Don’t turn the ball over, get turnovers, don’t get punts blocked, don’t get penalties on explosive plays,” said Riley in what a team needs to do to hold on to a lead.
The Sooners lost the turnover battle 4-0 and certainly committed a medley of costly penalties.
While the more surprising factor in the loss was the OU offense going so cold in the fourth quarter, the OU defense is unquestionably the main source of this upset.
Stop me when you’ve heard this before.
They weren’t able to force a single turnover and simply were ran over in the second half of this game.
Defensive Coordinator Alex Grinch was very open and honest in his postgame comments.
“There’s no one else to blame on it but me,” Grinch said. “I’m not getting the job done.”
He would go on to say he is unsure of what needs to happen exactly for this to get turned around for Oklahoma defensively, but clearly the way it has been isn’t working.
“Our message is not getting across, we got to do a better job as a coaching staff,” Grinch said. “It’s a results business and we failed.”
I honestly don’t know where Oklahoma goes from here, this was a simply disastrous loss.
On paper, the Sooners should have won this game really big.
This Kansas State team lost at home to Arkansas State just two weeks ago, and was once again missing several key players to either COVID-19 positive tests or contact tracing.
There just really isn’t any excuse for how OU managed to let this game slip away.
As Lincoln Riley said himself, the Sooners know a thing or two about how to bounce back from a brutal loss early in the season.
But this one feels a bit different, I have to say.
For while Spencer Rattler was brilliant at times and is without question a freakish talent, his inexperience was apparent late in the game.
He by no means was the reason they lost this game, but a Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, or even Jalen Hurts likely bails them out of this game late.
The Big 12 doesn’t exactly look like a gauntlet right now, but there are some obvious tough games for Oklahoma coming up.
The next two weeks they play at Iowa State (who bounced back from their bad loss with a win over TCU today) and then the Texas Longhorns.
Oklahoma is going to have to perform better defensively if they want to win those games.
Something that I’ve yet to touch on as well was the putrid offensive line play, which is something we are NOT used to seeing from OU in recent years.
Rattler’s struggles late in the game could largely be attributed to pressure in his face constantly, and the running game was solid for most of the afternoon but was never able to consistently get big yardage when they needed it.
It was an ugly, ugly afternoon for Oklahoma, and they have a lot of work to do if they want to turn things around and make another run at a Big 12 title.
They don’t get much time to figure it out either, as a trip to Ames awaits them next Saturday.
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