I was filled with a myriad of emotions after the streak came to an end last Saturday night, as I'm sure most of you were.
The previous game had elicited tears from me, as I openly admitted more than once, then a brutal work week took me away from dwelling too much on the coming event, which was probably a good thing.
While sad, I can say one thing for sure...this felt NOTHING like 2011. I walked away from this one thinking "It was bound to happen." There are many reasons why:
- Pre-season outlook
I stated many times, as others also did, that this team's potential outcome this season could be almost anything. Discussions were had rationalizing both 12-0 and 6-6, and if you contemplate this with a sound and unbiased mind, you will realize that the line between 10-0 and 5-5 is paper thin and littered with breaks (looking at you, Big 12 refs), coaching decisions, player execution, opponent collapses, and player's guts.
The fact is this...every single significant break/play vs Texas/KState/WV/Tech/Iowa St went OSU's way. In fact, it all continued to go OSU's way vs Baylor, with the exception of player execution/coaching decisions/opponent collapse.
- The defense is gassed.
Think about this...the Cowboys D has faced 650 plays in eight conference games (81.3 ppg). Of the non-Big 12 teams in the top 10 CFP rankings, their defenses have faced this many plays for the SEASON (all have played 11 games):
-Clemson...686 (62.4 ppg)
-Alabama...706 (64.2 ppg)
-Ohio St...757 (68.8 ppg)
-Notre Dame...721 (65.5 ppg)
-Iowa...745 (67.7 ppg)
-Florida...714 (64.9 ppg)
-Mich St...706 (64.2 ppg)
Throw in that of their last four games, the OSU D has faced over 100 plays twice, and that per game average jumps to 92. Even worse, Baylor ran the ball 73 times. That's a pounding of epic proportions for a group of guys that have faced 919 plays this season.
I hope their Thanksgiving meals have something "extra" in them, and that OU will huddle before every snap on offense, because the odometer is likely to hit 1,000 before the end of Bedlam.
- The coaches had the Midas Touch, until they didn't
Decisions and adjustments had been spot on until the Baylor game. The offensive and defensive game plans didn't seem to change much in response to Baylor's onslaught, and seemed a bit conservative. We should've known the Bears would drop 7-8 into coverage with our inability to run the ball, but we didn't roll anything out in an attempt to consistently combat that. The three man front on defense was a horrible choice, and we shockingly had trouble with their tempo as the defense got caught multiple times still trying to get signals in from the sideline. Add to that horrible execution by the safeties (who've had a tremendous season so far), and I guess I understand Gundy's decision to onside kick down 10 with 5 minutes remaining and all your timeouts...he didn't think we could stop them.
- Baylor was outright the better team
Gerald already made the case for this, but I'll repeat...the second longest winning streak in the history of the program just ended. Take a chill.
This season has already surpassed the vast majority of fans' expectations. Honestly, we anticipated being a major player for the Big 12 title AND college football playoff NEXT season, not this one. Even if OSU loses Bedlam, the hype going into next season will be silly, and the battle between TCU, Baylor, OU, and OSU could be even more epic than this year. We felt strongly this season that we could make some noise simply because we knew we would likely be better than at least 6 other teams in the conference. Maybe we could steal a game or two coming down the stretch.
Seriously, if we had told you that OSU would be 10-1 at this point with a blowout of TCU and a shot at a Big 12 title in hand, a huge majority of you would have been pretty happy.
Mason Rudolph is most definitely the QB for this team. Walsh's playing time has been predicated all season on the fact that OSU can't run the ball effectively except when he's on the field. Again, if I'd told you back in August that the Reindeer's numbers for TCU/Iowa St/Baylor would be:
67-110 (61%), 0 INT's, 1,109 yds (370 pg) and 9 TD's
you would've been damn ecstatic. Mason did plenty to win the game against Baylor. Problem was he didn't get any help. In his first season as a starter, the true sophomore is putting up the 3rd best season ever by a QB in Stillwater (and #'s 1 & 2 are held by the same guy), while working with no running game and a struggling, if not developing, offensive line, along with missing out on how many plays because we have to use Walsh in order to run the ball in certain situations. He's taken a beating, and is growing while he does it, showing class and leadership beyond his years, even while having the reins taken from him and handed to Walsh. He's going to get back a stable full of accomplished receivers in 2016, a backfield full of experienced ball carriers, and who knows, maybe an improved offensive line.
Let me also remind us that the season is FAR from over. Is TCU going to beat Baylor? Not likely, but it sure isn't the gimme we all would have called for prior to last weekend. The Bears are pretty banged up offensively, are embarking on a road game in consecutive weeks, and TCU showed they have plenty of fight with their freshman QB. Shall we also not forget the value of the revenge factor (61-58, anyone?). The Big 12 title still runs through Stillwater, as only OU controls their own destiny. Win, and the Sooners claim their first title since 2010 (that's weird to say, right?). If OSU wins and Baylor loses, the Cowboys are the champs. If Baylor and OSU win, Baylor will be the champs, assuming they dispatch the Longhorns in Waco to close their season.
In other words, Bedlam will determine the conference champion, one way or the other, and that's all we could've asked for way back when.
Then we get a bowl game for the 10th season in a row, and the most successful 10 year period in the history of the program will be complete.
Get ready folks...Game Day is coming.