Oklahoma couldn't have picked a worse time to play the kind of game that is usually reserved for anywhere else but Norman. The Sooners' 39 game winning streak at home ended on Saturday night with a 41-38 loss to a Texas Tech team that was coming off 2 consecutive losses, and was a 29 point underdog going into the game.
Texas Tech borrowed a page from Missouri, who silenced the crowd by jumping to an early 14-3 lead against Oklahoma. The only difference is that unlike Missouri, Tech was able to maintain the intensity for the full 60 minutes. The Red Raiders needed to play a near perfect game if they were to spring the upset, and they delivered; building a 17 point cushion that their opponents could not overcome. Every time the Sooners showed life and mounted a challenge, Tech snatched the momentum right back, knocking them down to the mat.
Let's get to the breakdown.
After scoring on their opening drive, Oklahoma's offense went flat, and didn't gain any traction until the 3rd quarter. In between, everything was out of sync. As Tech kept lighting the scoreboard, the Sooners went into "desperation" mode, trying to force things that just weren't there. Landry Jones had several errant passes, missing open receivers; who weren’t doing him any favors either by dropping some of them. One of his errant throws was picked off in the 3rd quarter, but the Sooners’ defense held firm and forced a punt.
Ryan Broyles (7 catches for 84 yards) had an unusually quiet outing. With the Sooners trailing 14-7, Broyles lost a fumble that was recovered by Tech, who duly converted it converted it for a touchdown. The next time I heard his name being mentioned was late in the game, when he was flagged for "unsportsmanlike conduct"; which was rather out of character on his part.
Dominique Whaley was out with the flu, which saw Roy Finch (93 yards on 13 carries) make his first start. In addition to Brennan Clay (21 yards on 9 carries), Oklahoma actually ran the ball well - averaging 5 yards per carry compared to Tech's 2.8 - but would at times either go away from it, or just weren't effective when it really mattered most i.e. the red zone
Still, they deserve credit for at least fighting all the way to the bitter end, even if their effort was too little too late.
Where do you start? A unit that averaged 15.8 points per game suddenly gave up 41 points and 572 yards of offense. While the Sooners were without 3 key players, that is still no excuse for a school of its caliber.
The Sooners were unable to register any turnovers, and without a serious pass rush, Tech QB Seth "Teach me how to" Doege hit them up for 441 yards and 4 touchdowns. The notable victim of the Red Raiders’ aerial assault was defensive back Gabe Lynn; who was also flagged for a high hit on receiver Aaron Crawford, with the resulting penalty leading to another Tech touchdown for a score of 31-7.
If there are any positives, the Sooners came away with a crucial 4th down stop in the red zone, and also sniffed out a fake punt by the Red Raiders in the 4th quarter. Other than that, there wasn't really much to write home about.
The kicking game is visibly Oklahoma's weakest link. The Sooners recruit some of the best talent in the nation every year, but haven't had a decent kicker since……, well, in a while. If it ever came down to Oklahoma needing to convert a field goal of 40 yards or more to win a game, any game, chances are you'd be safe betting your mortgage against it. Michael Hunnicutt (#18) missed two attempts, with the latter pretty much kicking Oklahoma out of the hunt for the national championship.
Oklahoma was outscored 17-0 in the 2nd quarter, and this was a defining moment in the game (in my opinion at least). The team showed resolve, battling back and could have still won, but their inconsistencies did them in. Not all is lost however, but the Sooners will need to put forth a complete game from here on out.
The Red Raiders may have just provided an offensive blueprint (“The Doege”; sorry but I couldn't pass it up) that I'm sure other teams will try and emulate. Baylor and Texas A&M, 2 of the Sooners next 3 opponents, favor the passing the game, even though the Aggies boast a more balanced attack.
The Sooners head back north to play against 8th ranked Kansas State. The Wildcats might not offer much by way of passing, but given that Baylor and Texas A&M will be waiting right after, the next 3 weeks will make or break Oklahoma's season.