We’ve reached another milestone in our 2019 Countdown to Kickoff! As of this glorious Wednesday, there are 60 days remaining until the season kicks off for the Oklahoma Sooners! For today’s countdown topic, I want to take a look back at all six (tied for 111th nationally lol) interceptions by the OU defense in 2018, which totaled 60 return yards.
Oklahoma’s first pick of the year came in the season opener against FAU. With the outcome of the game well in-hand, safety Robert Barnes kept his wits about him and a takeaway opportunity presented itself to him on a silver platter. As it turned out, the Sooners’ first interception of the year would also be their longest, as Barnes returned this one 32 yards.
CB Parnell Motley was the only Sooner in 2018 to nab multiple interceptions, logging three of them over the course of his eight starts and 14 appearances. His first one came against Iowa State in Ames. It was a back and forth affair, but Oklahoma managed to stay one step ahead of the upset-minded Cyclones throughout the day. On the final meaningful drive of the game, Motley closed the door on ISU for good with this INT and a seven yard return for good measure.
In the most stressful win of the year, Oklahoma needed a miracle stop against Army with the game tied late in the fourth, or else the Black Knights were more than likely going to march out of Norman with one of the biggest upset wins of the 2018 college football season. Fortunately for the Sooners, Kenneth Mann was in the right place at the right time to change the tide in the game. With the only interception by a non-secondary player on the season, the lineman brought this one back six yards.
Following Mann’s momentous pick, the Sooners failed to score at the end of regulation and an OT duel ensued. Oklahoma struck first with a touchdown, so it was up to Army to either answer or go down trying. Looks like the service academy went down on this play, because Motley’s second game-clinching INT in as many weeks was about as clutch as it gets.
Apparently Motley has a thing for late-game interceptions, because like his first two of the season, his third pick came towards the end of the TCU game. This time there would be no need for a game-changing play, as the Horned Frogs weren’t within reasonable striking distance. Still, nabbing a takeaway when the opponent is already backed up on their own side of the field is always nice, and that 10-yard gain at the end is even nicer.
OU’s final INT of 2018 came in the Big 12 Championship game against Texas. The first ever in-season rematch between the Sooners and the Longhorns featured one of the most exciting fourth quarters in series history. After Tre Brown sacked Sam Ehlinger for a safety, Kyler Murray and Grant Calcaterra subsequently connected on an instant-classic touchdown play.
With roughly two minutes remaining and trailing by two possessions, Tom Herman’s bunch would have one last gasp. That is, until Motley and Tre Norwood combined to tip and intercept Ehlinger’s final pass of the game, and the Oklahoma defense celebrated off the field in style.
Follow Crimson & Cream Machine on Twitter!