With nothing much better to do on Oklahoma’s off week, I took the time to go back and look at how the Sooners have fared off the bye under Bob Stoops. This is Bob’s 17th season at the helm of OU football, and they’ve played anywhere from one to three bye weeks every year since he took over. The result is a sample large enough, maybe, to be relevant to this year’s Sooners squad.
Under Stoops, Oklahoma has played 28 games after bye weeks, including two Big 12 Championship games that came two weeks after the regular season wrapped up. Here are a few interesting things I found:
- The Sooners are 20-8 after bye weeks under Bob Stoops. That’s not bad, obviously, but that winning percentage (.714) is actually lower than Bob’s all-time mark (.789). Therefore we can say that OU is slightly worse than average off the bye.
- When the bye week happened in September (even if the next game was in October), OU is 10-4 in the next contest. That’s exactly in line with Stoops’s 20-8 mark, suggesting that Oklahoma is equally vulnerable to a letdown at any point in the season.
- Under Stoops, OU has lost off the bye twice apiece to Texas, Baylor and Kansas State. It has one loss to Oklahoma State (2014) and its only non-conference loss off the bye came to Miami in 2009.
- Since the 2009 season, OU is 7-6 off the bye. Yeah, that’s right: nearly all of Stoops’s post-bye losses happened in just six years. OU is averaging one post-bye loss per season since then.
- OU is outscoring its post-bye opponents 987-580 under Stoops, or 35.25-20.71 on a per-game basis.
- Bob Stoops didn’t lose a game off a bye week until the Big 12 Championship in 2003. He didn’t lose a regular-season one until the 2006 Red River game.
- Oklahoma has only played TCU off the bye one time under Stoops. OU won that game 35-10 in 2008.
- OU has never lost both before and after a bye week under Stoops.
So OU’s recent history off the bye is not encouraging, but it’s never lost back-to-back games with a bye in between.
Oklahoma’s bye games are kind of a microcosm of the program itself. Through Bob’s first ten seasons, the Sooners rarely lost those games (and never dropped one at home). Since 2009, losing games after bye weeks has become pretty common—OU is barely .500 in them since then, and home-field advantage is basically gone.
Stoops hasn’t done anything to move the program back towards its former glory so far this year, but if he wants to get the Sooners back on the right track—towards a Big 12 title—he can start by reasserting his dominance off the bye.