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Oklahoma Sooners Football: Winning despite flaws

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The Sooners get the win, but continue to show weaknesses that haven’t been fixed

Kansas State v Oklahoma Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images

The Sooners were 13.5 point favorites in this one, and the score hovered around that mark for most of the game before Oklahoma eventually pulled away to win 38-17. The game was never really in doubt, and maybe that means no one should complain about Oklahoma’s performance. Frankly, though, this is a game Oklahoma should have dominated—if not to the extent of last year, at least something resembling that kind of overpowering. With all due respect to Bill Snyder’s squad, the Sooners were clearly the more talented team. The fact that the game wasn’t officially over until Baker Mayfield’s 88-yard bomb to Dede Westbrook with 6:31 left in the fourth quarter is a signal that Oklahoma hasn’t fixed some of the same problems that have haunted it all year.

Oklahoma shot out of the gate with a touchdown. Then another one. The game started to feel over very early on, and Kansas State fans were surely starting to have flashbacks to last year’s soul-crushing defeat. The defense couldn’t get off the field, though, and allowed an insane 17-play drive featuring a third-and-long conversion and a fourth-and-four conversion, where the defense completely declined to cover the running back out of the backfield.

It wasn’t the only time the defense played poorly when it had a chance to finish the game. Up 31-10 near the end of the third quarter, Jordan Thomas allowed a 26-yard pass on third-and-22, then a few plays later allowed a 54-yard touchdown pass on a play that saw him get completely lost. The secondary has been vulnerable all season, and Jordan Thomas has absolutely not been immune to occasional poor plays. Long passes by ULM, Texas, TCU, and now Kansas State have plagued this defense all season. It was made worse today by the fact that Kansas State was using a backup quarterback for most of the game.

The offense had some issues of its own. Starting at a blistering speed (touchdowns on the first three possessions), it seemed that Oklahoma would be unstoppable. On the next four drives, however, the results were as follows: punt, field goal, punt, interception. For some reason, an Oklahoma offense with an amazing amount of talent refuses to keep its foot on the pedal when it has a chance to completely put games away. In games where Oklahoma is a 13.5 point favorite at home, it’s okay to have these kinds of stalls. That’s not always going to be the case, though, and Oklahoma needs to be more consistent on offense. It’s the second time (TCU being the other) where Oklahoma risked surrendering a strong lead because the offensive fire was extinguished too early.

It was also the second week in a row where a dropped pass by an OU receiver turned into an interception for the opposing defense. These are the kinds of mistakes that kill momentum.

This seems like an awfully negative take-away after a win, so I understand if you’re rushing to Oklahoma’s defense a little. The truth is that I think Oklahoma has all the tools to be a dominant team. I want them to use those tools to crush teams and look like the storm that blew through the Big 12 last year starting with the game after the Red River Shootout. This time, Oklahoma beat Texas in their rivalry game, but the week after they don’t look nearly as prepared to take control of the conference as they did this time last year.

Oklahoma has all the weapons on offense to score 50 points against each of their remaining opponents, but they need to figure out how to keep the pressure going all game long. Their defense still needs to get healthy and fix some of its recurring issues, but if it can do that it has the physical ability to make Oklahoma a force in the Big 12.

I just want to see them put it all together. They didn’t need to do it today to come away with a comfortable win, but at some point they’ll need to play up to their potential to avoid disaster.