The Sun Bowl - How Oklahoma (7-5) Got There

Five months ago had you told me that Oklahoma would be playing in the Sun Bowl on New Year's Eve I would have called you crazy. As it turns out the Sooner are El Paso bound and the word crazy is the best description of a season that was marred by injury and under performing.


Sooners Football Schedule

BYU Sat 09/05 L 13 - 14
Idaho St. Sat 09/12 W 64 - 0
Tulsa Sat 09/19 W 45 - 0
@ Miami Sat 10/03 L 20 - 21
Baylor Sat 10/10 W 33 - 7
@ Texas Sat 10/17 L 13 - 16
@ Kansas Sat 10/24 W 35 - 13
Kansas St. Sat 10/31 W 42 - 30
@ Nebraska Sat 11/07 L 3 - 10
Texas A&M Sat 11/14 W 65 - 10
@ Texas Tech Sat 11/21 L 13 - 41
Oklahoma St. Sat 11/28 W 27 - 0
@ Stanford Thu 12/31 1:15 PM CST

Season Recap
Losing All-American tight end Jermaine Gresham for the season before they ever stepped onto the playing field the Sooners came out and fell flat on their faces in the season opener and lost much more than just a 14-13 decision to BYU. Even before Sam Bradford went down, just before the half, Oklahoma struggled on offense due to poor blocking and dropped passes. These would become recurring themes through the season.

The next two weeks would show perceived improvement as the Sooners blanked Idaho State and Tulsa by a combined score of 109-0 but a trip to south Florida would bring a halt to the momentum built over those two weeks.

Oklahoma suffered another costly injury against Miami and committed a costly turnover at the start of the 3rd quarter resulting in the second one point loss (21-20) of the season dropping their record to 2-2.

The Sooners began conference play the next week with a ho-hum 33-7 win over Baylor. The promise of having Sam Bradford back the next week gave Sooner fans hope going into the Red River Shootout the next week.

That hope would be short lived as Bradford would go down again (this time for good). Despite having a lead in the game when Bradford was injured the Oklahoma offense returned to sputtering in his absence and despite a brilliant performance by the Sooner defense OU lost by a field goal dropping their record to .500 for the third time in six games.

Taking on teams from the north over the next three weeks Oklahoma's offense came back to life in 35-13 and 42-30 wins over Kansas and Kansas State respectively. The win over Kansas marked the only win for Oklahoma away from Norman and was the first of only two wins over ranked teams this season.

The trip to Lincoln to take on Nebraska was disasterous and while most will remember Landry Jones' pitiful 5 interception performance the place kicking was awful that night as well. As bad as that 10-3 loss was it still wasn't as bad as the complete team letdown that would occur two weeks later in Lubbock against Texas Tech.

After rebounding from the Nebraska loss with a 65-10 thumping of Texas A&M the Sooners put out their worst team performance of the year in a 41-13 loss at Texas Tech. This was the loss that landed Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl. Had OU won this game they would have most likely been playing in the Cotton Bowl or Alamo Bowl at worst.

The Sooners ended the season with a 27-0 rout of then 11th ranked Oklahoma State marking their third shutout of the season and the highest ranked opponent Oklahoma would beat this season. The fact that the victim was OSU and the loss kept them out of a BCS bowl gave OU fans a little extra to smile about on Thanksgiving weekend.

Why They Won
Oklahoma's defense is possibly the best of the Bob Stoops era. They were second in the conference in scoring defense with just 13.5 points allowed per game. Against the pass the Sooners picked off 16 passes and surrendered a Big 12 best 185 yards per game.


Sacks Interceptions Tackles
G Sacks YdsL Int Yds IntTD Solo Ast
2009 - Jeremy Beal 12 11 -72 1 4 0 43 22

 

Led by Travis Lewis (100 total tackles) and Gerald McCoy (14.5 tackles for loss) the Sooners have been just as stingy against the run as well. Holding opponents to 2.7 yards per carry and only 88.6 yards per game put Oklahoma's opponents in a lot of third and long situations which allowed Jeremy Beal (11 sacks) and company to pin their ears back and come after the quarterback.

Why They Lost

After setting records in 2008 for the most prolific offense in the history of college football the 2009 offense has sputtered. If you lose one player and blame it for a loss then you're most likely making an excuse. However, if you lose over half of your offense to injury then it is an excuse. That said Oklahoma's 2009 offense will most likely be remembered for false starts, missed blocking assignments, dropped passes and holding penalties more than injuries.

Despite all the distractions and subtractions this offense has faced OU still finished 4th in the Big 12 in scoring offense at 31 points per game. It's just that big plays couldn't often be found when needed in the big games.

Shutting down Oklahoma's rushing attack was key to shutting down Oklahoma. In the three conference losses (Texas, Nebraska, Texas Tech) the OU rushing attack was non-existent providing the road to success against the Sooner offense. Without a rushing attack the game is placed on redshirt freshman Landry Jones' shoulders and he hasn't been up to handling that type of pressure just yet. Jones threw 2 interceptions against Texas, 5 against Nebraska and 1 against Tech.

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