Cowboys rout Sooners; run away with conference crown
It's been 8 years since Oklahoma State last won a Bedlam game. It's been 35 years since they last won a conference title; even longer since they won it outright. By beating Oklahoma 44-10 on Saturday night, the Cowboys killed two (maybe 3) birds with one stone.
In what had been anticipated as the biggest Bedlam to date, it was Oklahoma State who came out swinging, while Oklahoma looked like a team that was still trying to get on the bus headed out of Norman. There's many more ways to describe this, but to summarize it, the Cowboys wanted it more; a lot more than Oklahoma could have ever dreamed of.
If you had thought that it couldn't get any worse for Oklahoma after losses to Texas Tech and Baylor, then you hadn't seen anything yet. For the 3rd time this season, the Sooners gave up 40+ points, but unlike the previous two contests where they at least managed to make a game of it, they had no answers whatsoever for Oklahoma State; not even in the 3rd quarter that they've dominated all season long.
As much as you want to try to avoid pinning the problems on one thing, it appears that when Ryan Broyles was lost for the season against Texas A&M, the entire offensive plan left with him as he limped off the field. In the three games since, Landry Jones has thrown 5 INTs and no touchdowns.
Last week against Iowa State, Oklahoma seemed committed to the run in an effort to take the weight off Jones' shoulders. Against Oklahoma State, that game plan was tossed out the window during the bus trip to Stillwater. There were 14 pass plays, and only one run play - a sweep to receiver Trey Franks - early on. By half time, they had attempted 38 pass plays, compared to only 10 run plays.
It was up to Jones to try and deliver a win, but he had no help whatsoever. Not from the offensive line; which blocked well at times, but couldn’t prevent the Cowboys from harassing him whenever they felt like doing so. Not from the receivers who, even when Jones managed to find them, couldn't hang on to the ball. And certainly not from himself, as he was responsible for 4 of the 5 turnovers; including the game changing fumble that the Cowboys cashed in for a touchdown, effectively ending a game that had not even reached the interval.
Last year, Oklahoma's defensive scheme succeeded because they were able to stop the run, thus interrupting the Cowboys rhythm. This time, they had no answer whatsoever, as Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith combined for 270 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground.
The Cowboys offensive line dominated proceedings by clearing rushing lanes and giving QB Brandon Weeden the kind of protection that would make the Secret Service blush. With a productive running game, Weeden, normally the one to pull the strings, found himself in the odd role of "game manager", making the occasional throw whenever necessary to help move the chains.
In three losses, Oklahoma's turnover margin is -8 (9 giveaways, compare to only 1 takeaway). The Sooners' lone turnover came when Jeremy Smith fumbled the ball after a long gain. The tackling left a lot to be desired, and even after figuring out that they couldn't lay a finger on Weeden, they failed to make the necessary adjustments. And just to rub it in, the Cowboys marching band taunted the Sooners' "sharks", playing the "Jaws" theme whenever their team was in scoring position.
When all was said and done, it was the Cowboy faithful who rushed the field to celebrate a win of historic proportions. This was the Cowboys' most lopsided Bedlam victory since a 47-0 drubbing in 1945, which culminated in a Sugar Bowl victory to mark the program's only undefeated season. Along with bragging rights and a conference title, the Cowboys had inched closer to playing for the national title. This was a really special team, and you can't fault the fans for wanting in on some of the action.
A season that seemed destined for a national championship now ends with the Sooners playing for a lower-tier bowl in a destination that they couldn't point on a map. That's just how far Oklahoma has fallen this season.
Still, it's a game that has to be played, and if it all works out, this could just be the platform from which they regroup and try to make another run next season.