In 2014, the Sooners were top five in the preseason polls and were favored to win the Big 12. At this point last year, Oklahoma was 5-2 and didn't look at all like the team they were suppose to be. Their offense didn't have an identity and their defense had allowed at least 26 points in all four of their conference games. They were 5-2, but many thought they would get it together and finish the season 10-2. They ended up losing five of their last nine games and got dismantled by Baylor and Clemson. Oklahoma held a lead in four of their five losses, but they seemingly gave up when they were down in the second half.
This season actually started out similar to 2014. They started off 4-0, they beat an undefeated West Virginia team, and defeated Tennessee in non-conference play. They then got upset in their fifth game of the season. In 2014 it was to a ranked TCU team on the road, but in 2015 it was an unranked Texas team that the Sooners were suppose to beat by double digits. It was considered by some to be the worst loss in the Bob Stoops era. But unlike the 2014 team, the Sooners bounced back in a big way.
|2014 first five games
|2015 first five games
|W 31-24 2OT
|at West Virginia
The week after OU-Texas, Oklahoma played the same team that handed them their second loss last season. Bill Snyder's Wildcats had just come off a 52-45 heartbreaking loss to TCU after having an 18 point lead at half time. Some thought the Sooners would lose back to back regular season games for the first time since 1999. But then the game started and it was a different Oklahoma team than we have seen all season.
Baker Mayfield and the offense went down and scored on their first drive. Then the defense forced a three and out. The offense punted on their second drive, but the defense gave them the ball back three plays later with an interception that was returned to the Wildcat's 16 yard line. Then Joe Mixon scored off a receiving touchdown two plays later and the game had a feeling that it was going to be a blowout.
Not only did the game turn out to be a blowout, it was a shutout. The same Kansas State offense that had put up 45 points in the same stadium just a week before was held to 0 points and 110 yards of offense. It looked like a completely different team than the one that had lost to Texas. The defense stuffed the run and forced them to pass, leading to three interceptions that eventually turned into 21 points. The final score was 55-0 and it could of been worse.
The Sooner defense pitched their first shutout since 2013 that day and the offense finally got a glimpse of what Lincoln Riley's offense can do to a team when it's clicking on all cylinders. It was a big step from the previous week in which they lost 24-17 to the Longhorns.
Now that game could of been played so well out of anger, but no one knew if that OU team would show up ever again this season. That question was answered last Saturday when Texas Tech came to Norman and the result was similar.
63-27 was the final score and the offense was clicking all the way around and the defense were forcing turnovers. Samaje Perine had four touchdowns, Mixon had two, and Alex Ross scored on the gorund as well. The Sooners struggled running the ball through the first five games, but have found a way to install it into Riley's version of the air raid.
If Oklahoma can run the ball later in the schedule against the Big 12's top three teams then they have a chance to run the table. As long as Mayfield can keep up his stellar play (21-4 TD-INT ratio) then Oklahoma may be the team to beat in the Big 12. Quarterback play was a big reason for the Sooners collapse last season along with a lack of turnovers. If the last two games were any indicator, this team looks to be a lot tougher than last year's.
|2014 first two games after loss
|2015 first two games after loss
|at Kansas State
By tougher, I mean this team is good at bouncing back. Not just the two games after the Texas game either, this team has shown resiliency all season. The Tennessee game for example, they came back from 17-3 in the fourth quarter and won the game in 2OT on the road in a hostile environment. They also showed it in a 44-24 win against West Virginia when the Mountaineers came back in the third quarter and Oklahoma responded by scoring the last 17 points. This team has displayed toughness all season and that toughness might be the difference from the Sooners finishing 9-3 and finishing 11-1.