Welcome back to another edition of our 2019 Countdown to Kickoff series! In just 16 days, the Oklahoma Sooners will open the college football season in a prime time bout against Dana Holgorsen and the Houston Cougars. Speaking of Holgs, for today’s countdown post, I want to take a look back at the time OU faced him in 2013 — when he was still coaching West Virginia. In that game, Bob Stoops and company had to hold on until the very end in one of the lowest scoring wins in recent program history.
In fact, that game against West Virginia six seasons ago resulted in the least amount of points Oklahoma has scored in a win since shutting Texas out, 12-0 in 2004. That stat should come as no surprise, because for the better part of the last two decades, the Sooners have fielded some of the best offensive teams in all of college football.
As for the wacky game itself, the Mountaineers started out relatively fast with a 75-yard TD run by RB Dreamius Smith. Little did anybody realize at the time that that would be the lone score for West Virginia on the night. WVU took a 7-3 lead into the second quarter following a 44-yard field goal from Michael Hunnicutt.
It was a particularly ugly game from Trevor Knight through the air (10-20, 119 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs), but he did connect on a one-yard TD pass to FB Trey Millard. That happened to be Oklahoma’s one successful play in the end zone as well. Another FG from Hunnicutt extended the Sooners’ lead to 13-7 going into the half.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that Oklahoma would increase its score to 16 with another kick from Hunnicutt. So just how ugly was this game? Both teams turned the ball over a combined total of eight times. It was almost like the 2018 Cheez-It Bowl, except way ahead of its time. Fortunately, OU’s running game was clicking behind Brennan Clay and Damien Williams’ 265 rushing yards.
Things only became uglier before the madness finally came to an end. After Hunnicutt’s field goal attempt in the final minute clanged off the upright, West Virginia drove straight down the field and managed to reach a first and goal situation. Thankfully, the OU defense bowed up and shut them down when it counted, holding on for the 16-7 victory.
While technically still a two-possession win for Oklahoma, it didn’t feel like it for anybody on either side watching. Given how potent the offense in Norman is these days, I can’t imagine there will be another game quite like this one any time soon.
Now let’s cover any days we missed since our last countdown post:
17 Days! - Dede Westbrook’s 17 TD catches in 2016
On his way to winning the Biletnikoff Award and finishing as a finalist for the Heisman Trophy in 2016, Dede Westbrook broke Mark Clayton (2003) and Ryan Broyles’ (2009) shared program record for the most touchdown receptions in a single season. The previous mark was 15, and Westbrook topped it by two scores.
Westbrook and Baker Mayfield formed one of the most formidable QB-WR duos in college football history that season. Together, they were practically unstoppable once they found their rhythm, and were largely responsible for why that team won the Big 12 title, the Sugar Bowl, and finished the year on a 10-game winning streak.
18 Days! - Freshman TE Austin Stogner
Coming out of high school, Austin Stogner was a top three tight end prospect nationally and considered a perfect fit for Lincoln Riley’s offense. After enrolling early, the former four-star recruit from Plano showed off his skills in Oklahoma’s Spring Game.
In the mold of a Mark Andrews, you can see how smooth he looks in the open field. His hands are also impressive for his age. Really the only things that might hold him back from extensive reps this fall are his thin frame and his grasp of the offense. Both of those should develop in time, just as they did for Andrews.
It remains to be seen how much playing time the 6’6” weapon will get this fall considering the depth and experience ahead of him on the depth chart, but Stogner could certainly see a decent amount of meaningful snaps with his natural ability. Keep your eye out for the tall guy wearing No. 18 this fall. Chances are good that he’ll be the next big thing at TE for OU.
19 Days! - Senior LB Caleb Kelly
It’s been a long and winding road for Caleb Kelly at Oklahoma. Once upon a time he was a five-star recruit with a ton of potential. Unfortunately, he never seemed to take that next step into stardom. Whether it was a fit issue or physical setbacks, something has always seemed to get in the way of the Cali LB from making a significant impression.
That’s not to say he hasn’t shown flashes, because he has and then some. Even in a backup role for most of the 2018 season, Kelly made plays that Sooner fans won’t soon forget. Just take this epic blast into Baylor QB Charlie Brewer’s back. My neck still hurts after watching that.
Perhaps his most game-changing play of last season happened in Morgantown, when he not only reached Will Grier for a sack, he also stripped the ball out. If that wasn’t enough, Kelly had the presence of mind to recover the fumble and walk it in for the defensive score. In all, that’s as perfect of a result as a play can have.
Unfortunately, yet another injury has set Caleb Kelly back as he was entering his senior year. He’s now expected to miss most of if not all of 2019, and following the season he’ll have an important decision to make. He can either attempt to give it one last shot at Oklahoma, enter the 2020 NFL Draft, or elect to transfer. He’s been nothing but a model representative for OU since he’s been on campus, so whatever he chooses to do, I’m sure his coaches, teammates and all of Sooner Nation will support him entirely.
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