We’ll get to the four quarters in a minute, but I want to start with this:
I understand OSU fans’ frustrating. I watch every game. Hell, afterwards I have to stay sober enough to write about them and then turn around a day later when I’d rather not think about it, and talk about the game for a podcast. Trust me when I say what’s coming; I hate losing in Bedlam.
But you can’t just lump every year with all of the others. OSU came into this game without Tylan Wallace and Spencer Sanders and the quarterback run game that was so vital to this team’s four-game winning streak. Ignoring those facts, and the fact that OU is one of the 10 best programs in the country, is ludicrous.
I know the statement “it could be worse” doesn’t make anyone feel any better, but it’s true. You could be Jim Harbaugh and Michigan. How would you like to have top-15 recruiting classes... and still lose every year to you biggest rival? How would you like to be Arkansas right now, who had to fire a coach because he kept getting blown out by mediocre Group-5 teams?
I’m tired of OSU losing in Bedlam. I wish this series was closer under head coach Mike Gundy. I’m not going to run him out of town because he can’t win one game. I’m not firing coaches after Saturday’s performance.
Instead, I’m excited about a bowl game for a 14th straight season, a team led by a more experienced Sanders and an even more improved defense next season. I’m excited for an offensive coordinator in his second year that showed some really fun stuff in Year 1. I’m excited for an offensive coordinator that worked wonders this year. I’m getting excited that maybe, just maybe, the best is yet to come for this program.
Maybe I’m crazy. But so be it. I bleed the Brightest Orange.
First Quarter: Chuba Hubbard is something special
I had an OU friend text me during OSU’s first drive of the game; “Dayum, Chuba fast.”
It reminded me how much fun it’s been to see Hubbard all year, mostly because not every college football fan has had the pleasure to do so. In fact, most haven’t. OU pretty much bottled him up after the first quarter, limiting him to a total of 104 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries.
But man, as sad as I am he didn’t hit the 2,000-yard mark during the regular season, I’m more sad we likely have only one more game to admire and enjoy the Canadian Wonder in America’s Brightest Orange.
Seriously. The guy hit second place in single-season rushing yards in OSU history in the second quarter, and will finish there with 1,936 yards plus whatever he earns in the bowl game. The only one who has done it better was Barry Sanders, and there is no one better.
There’s still one game to go — and destination and opponent are still very much up in the air — but I’m going to cherish the upcoming bowl game and look back on this season with a smile all because of that speedy Canadian.
Second Quarter: You had to see it coming
If someone walked up to you and said “I’m going to punch you in the face,” you would do something to protect yourself right?
Well, OSU got warned and then stood there like a dummy.
OU has a lot of plays, but one they run more than any other, the GT (guard-tackle) pull. OSU knew that coming in. It’s a bread-and-butter of the OU offense. They have run it all season.
OSU had no answer.
It’s not just being told once something is going to happen, it’s having 11 game-tapes worth of examples, and still having no response or answer.
That cost OSU more than any other. More than kicking field goals when OSU needed touchdowns. More than forcing the ball to Hubbard when the OU defense was daring you to throw. More than anything.
Credit to the defensive players. I know the tackling got sloppy at the end of the game. That’s understandable. I understand it’s hard to tackle Jalen Hurts. He’s a bulldozer of a man. But to be honest, they performed well.
The knock here goes to the defensive coaching staff and Jim Knowles. I’m not out on him, he’s shown a ton of growth this season and is a big part of why OSU will finish the regular season 8-4. But tonight was by far one of the Knowles’ and the rest of the defensive staff’s worst performances of the year.
Third Quarter: I want more Dru Brown
This isn’t a comment about the 2018 season or a shot at anyone. It’s simply a statement of how I feel:
I really wish we got to see more of Brown. He’s a nice QB with some ability who made some impressive throws the last two weeks.
He was 23-for-32 for 207 yards and an interception toward the end of the game. There were some overthrows and he still bails on the pocket too early (though he stayed in a few times), but man, I like him. That hurdle, even though I hate hurdles, was impressive.
Sanders has a chance to be healthy in time for the bowl game, but I hope they let Brown play. I know we joke about “loyalty” and “guys who stick around” a lot, but Brown deserves the chance to play one more game. I hope it comes in the bowl game.
Fourth Quarter: It’s Bedlam
If you listen to the podcast, or to me at all, there’s one thing I always say about Bedlam; throw out the record books.
When these two teams face off, I don’t care what the stat sheets show for the season. I don’t care whose roster is better than whos. All I care about is the game because we’ve seen weird stuff happen.
OSU came into the game tied for 49th nationally in turnovers gained with 17. They had zero. OU came into this game as the 126th rated team in the country in turnovers gained with just nine. They forced the only two in the game, and nearly had a third.
Hubbard, who never fumbles, had two in the game that were, luckily, recovered by OSU.
Dillon Stoner, the most sure hands in OSU’s receiving crops, dropped a perfect pass in the first quarter. Something he really hadn’t done since taking over the primary receiver role from Wallace.
It’s an OU team that, per my friend I mentioned earlier, “picked the right week to play a complete game.” That’s Bedlam.
It’s not an excuse, though some will claim it to be. It’s years of watching this rivalry. It’s enough instances of the two teams not playing like they normally do throughout the season.
This is Bedlam.
Overtime: I’ll say it again
I said it during the West Virginia game and I thought it over and over again during Bedlam; OSU really missed the quarterback run. Yes, the Cowboys were able to use it a few times with Brown, but it never felt like the threat it was with Sanders.
It’s something I will enjoy having as a weapon again in 2020.
Second Overtime: It hurts (no pun intended)
Seeing how good OU is and how ahead they are of OSU just makes the run of games from 2009 to 2014 even more frustrating.
I will believe to my grave OSU would have won Bedlam if Gundy had started Brandon Weeden instead of “Weekend at Bernies-ing” Zac Robinson. In 2012, OU didn’t lead Bedlam until the end of overtime. OSU absolutely should have won that game.
You will never convince me that OU was a better team than OSU in 2013. Bob Stoops just outcoached Gundy. Yet the Cowboys were a dropped interception on a cold day away from winning.
Now? Let’s be honest, OU is a more talented and deeper team with a better offensive mind running the show.
Again, it doesn’t mean I want Gundy run out of town. You show me the guy that is unequivocally better offensively than Lincoln Riley and we might have the conversation, but otherwise no. It is frustrating to look back and feel like OSU’s best chances to win Bedlam are behind them.