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The Long Road Ahead

In college football (and life), it’s important to remember one thing: it’s never as good or as bad as it seems

Houston v Oklahoma Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Happy Labor Day everybody! I hope you all have been able to put the loss behind you in some fashion, even if that means you still haven’t sobered up since Saturday afternoon.

After a loss like this, it’s easy to immediately retreat into the part of one’s mind that thinks things like FIRE BOB STOOPS and OUR SEASON IS OVER. I get it. The Sooners were recently named one of the college football blue bloods—of whom, four out of the top ten teams lost this weekend—and the expectation in Norman has never changed (except for those lost years in the 90’s, maybe): it’s championship or bust.

But I’m here to tell you something. I’m not trying to sound condescending or self-righteous. I truly believe this bit will not only improve your football-watching experience, but your life in general.

Here goes: it’s never as good or as bad as you think.

Think back to last October. Specifically, the Red River Rivalry game. So much has happened between then and now that it’s easy to forget, but OU dropped an absolute dud. 10th ranked Oklahoma ended up losing to unranked Texas, 24-17. They converted 3-16 third downs, while Texas converted 9-16.

Questions about motivation arose, and validly so. Many fans and even members of the media wondered aloud if Oklahoma needed to move on from the Stoops era. The entire following week was practically a quagmire, and there were serious doubts about the team making it to any bowl worth mentioning.

They won the next four games by a combined score of 232-50, and rolled all the way until the College Football Playoff. That didn’t turn out so well either, but a playoff season can not be considered anything but a success. They rebounded emotionally after they clearly lacked the oomph early on.

I tweeted about it late in the game on Saturday:

I’m not saying that the Sooners are going to the national championship or even the College Football Playoff. I’m not even saying this team is necessarily going to be good; they immediately need someone to step up and fill the size 17 shoes Sterling Shepard, Erik Striker, and Charles Tapper left. OU also faces a tougher schedule than they did last year.

What I am saying is that perhaps this team needed to take a lump early on. OU’s problem has never been talent. It’s been motivation. And there’s no motivation like a tough loss and the doubt that accompanies it.

The playoff committee is notorious for their ‘what have you done for me lately’ attitude. If OU can run the table (no small task), they could conceivably make it, providing that the right chips fall into the right places.

So, Sooner fans: take a deep breath (or a swig). Take another one. One more for good measure.

The season is long, so strap in. The true measure of this team will be in two weeks, when vaunted Ohio State comes to town.

Until then, try not to dwell on the loss, and remember: no one feels the loss like the players and the coaching staff. They’ll rebound.

Have a great labor day.