Oklahoma can’t put it all together on the biggest stage

(Photo by Michael Kinney)

By Michael Kinney

ATLANTA- Parnell Motley looked exhausted. As he sat down to talk to the media after the 2019 Peach Bowl, the senior cornerback had almost a blank stare on his face as he answered questions.

It was almost as if the realization that his college career was over and the lasting image he and Oklahoma fans will have of this year team was the performance they put on the field Saturday afternoon. That was something Motley and all of the Sooners seem to be having the biggest problem with.

“It’s very disappointing,” Motley said. “This one really hurt because we prepped for the game and thought we had a great game plan and just didn’t execute.

No. 4 Oklahoma suffered a 63-28 loss to No. 1 LSU at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs. The Tigers advanced to the College Football Championship game instead of the Sooners.

“Had to fight through a lot just to get here, and it’s kind of the disappointment — you balance right now the disappointment of not winning and accomplishing your ultimate goal here,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “On top of that, just not playing our best.

For three straight years under Riley, the Sooners were on the verge of making it to the final game of the college football season. But each time they reached the playoffs, they found themselves falling short.

However, what made this year’s version so painful for the players and its fanbase was just how uncompetitive the game was. From start to finish, the undefeated Tigers had total control of the contests and there seemed to be nothing the Sooners could do to take it from them.

“It doesn’t really go away honestly,” junior wideout CeeDee Lamb said. “You have to live with this one, I have to go to sleep with the loss. It’s going to be a hard one.”

Lamb probably knew at that moment that he would never have a chance to get the redemption he had been looking for after each playoff defeat. The all-American declared for the NFL draft Sunday, just a day after his season ended.

“After much thought and prayer, I am officially announcing that I will be declaring for the 2020 NFL draft,” Lamb posted on social. “It has been my dream for as long as I could remember to play for the NFL, and I believe it’s the right time to take that next step.”

In his junior season, Lamb accounted for 62 receptions, 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns and was named a consensus All-American, He ends his collegiate career

Another player who many believe will be leaving Oklahoma for the NFL is linebacker Kenneth Murray. He totaled seven tackles against LSU to push his season total up to 102.

“I just wasn’t raised to stop fighting. That’s what I did. That’s what we did,” an emotional Murray said. “We just didn’t play well enough. I’m not going to sit in front of these cameras and make any excuses. It’s extremely frustrating.”

The 63 points the Sooners allowed set a new record for the Peach Bowl and the College Football Semifinals. It was also the most points the Sooners have allowed in a bowl game since giving up 55 to USC in 2005.

The offensive side was also setting low-light records for the program. Oklahoma accounted for only 322 total yards and 97 rushing yards. Both were a season low for the No. 5 offense in the nation.

“When you play this game, you talk about the controllables, what you can control,” OU quarterback Jalen Hurts said. “We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities, and that’s something that we can control. They play really good defense, but we were too inconsistent to come out on top of this game, and I think that’s the blunt reality of it.”

Oklahoma closes out the season with a 12-2 record for the third consecutive season. Each ensuing defeat has been worse than the other.

But the Sooners remained confident they are on the right track to winning the national championship, something they haven’t done since 2000.

“I think there’s a lot of valuable lessons going throughout the season, as a defense, that we’re able to learn from, and even on offense. I know for defense that it’s time to keep climbing,” Murray said. “We took some strides this year, but it’s time to keep climbing and reach that elite status. I think it’s going to take a lot, but we’re headed in the right direction.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Sooners go down for the count

By Michael Kinney

ATLANTA– For weeks Oklahoma was told they had no chance. Facing No. 1 LSU, it seemed everyone gave the fourth-ranked Sooners no chance to topple the Tigers.

However, the Sooners said this year was going to be different. With it being the program’s fourth time making it to the College Football Playoffs, they expressed a belief that they could shock the world.

Unfortunately for OU, it was a different kind of shock that came out of Saturday’s game. Oklahoma loss 63-28 to LSU in the 2019 Peach Bowl to close out their season.

“I felt like if we played well, we would be able to stand in there and trade blows with them,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “I really did. And we did early. But when you start making mistakes, combination of that and a talented team playing well, they go on a run like they do.”

The 63 points the Sooners allowed set a new record for the Peach Bowl and the College Football Semifinals. It was also the most points the Sooners have allowed in a bowl game since giving up 55 to USC in 2005.

The offensive side was also setting low-light records for the program. Oklahoma accounted for only 322 total yards and 97 rushing yards. Both were a season-low for the No. 5 offense in the nation.

“Just talk about the missed opportunities we had, leaving money on the table, going out there and not taking advantage of every opportunity we have against teams like this,” quarterback Jalen Hurts said. “I mean, games like this, you’ve got to maximize it. We failed to do that.”

Three minutes into the contest LSU had scored and the Oklahoma offense looked in trouble. Throw in a special-teams gaffe and the start to the game almost couldn’t have gone any worse for the Sooners.

However, Oklahoma didn’t collapse. The defense came up with a stop to get the ball back. That set up a 51-yard pass from Hurts to CeeDee Lamb down to the three-yard line. Tailback Kennedy Brooks took it in from there on a short power run up the middle to tie the contest at 7-7.

However, the Tigers came right back and answered with a nine-play, 75-yard drive. Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow was able to pick apart an OU secondary that was playing 10 yards off the LSU receivers. That was especially true for Justin Jefferson, who broke seemingly every receiving record with his 227 yards and four touchdowns on the night.

After the Sooners were unable to score on their next drive, Burrows added another touchdown pass to Jefferson that put the Tigers up 21-7 with 1:16 left in the 1st quarter.

Oklahoma found itself down another defensive starter when safety Brendan Radley-Hiles was ejected from the game on a targeting call to start the second quarter.

“He’s got to be smarter,” senior Parnell Motley said of Radley-Hiles. “He’s a great player. I hope he thought it through and what happened. I can’t fault it him because I did something like that that hurt the team. But he has to keep his head up. He’s a young dude with a bright future ahead of him.”

Burrows made the Sooners pay when he and Jefferson connected again for a touchdown to push the lead to 21 points.

From there, the game just got out of hand. The defense couldn’t slow down Burrows and his deep receiving core. He finished the first half a College Football Playoff record 403 yards and seven touchdowns. (493 yards, 7 Tds for the game).

Unfortunately for Oklahoma, Hurts was unable to match him. His deficiencies as a passer were highlighted even more against an LSU defense that was forcing him to beat them with his arm.

The Tigers led 49-14 at halftime. Both teams just played out the string in the second half.

In what may have been his last game at Oklahoma, Lamb collected four catches for 119 yards. However, he was held out of and only caught three passes after the first quarter bomb.

Hurts finished the final game of his college career completing 15 of 31 passes for 217 yards. He also rushed 14 times for 43 yards and two scores.

However, Oklahoma needed Hurts to be more than that. They needed him to match Burrow, which he was unable to do.

“You talk about how much it means to you and the team. It’s supposed to hurt. This is not a good feeling,” Hurts said. “This is a feeling I’ve never felt before. It hurts me in my heart, you know. When I decided to come to this school, I told Coach Riley, I’m going to go win you a National Championship, and I failed to do that.”

Oklahoma closes out the season with a 12-2 record for the third consecutive season. It was also the third consecutive season their year came to an end at the hands of an SEC squad.

“We’re continuing to make strides. There’s no doubt about it,” Riley said. “I mean, just putting yourself here four times in five years is — I mean, that’s so hard to do, man. I mean, it’s so hard to do. So I think we’ve made some great improvements with the program. I’m excited about where we’re heading defensively. I think we’ve just scratched the surface about how good we can get on that side. This program has championship DNA. We kind of find a way, and we’ll be back.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Fields setting his own path at Oklahoma

By Michael Kinney

ATLANTA– One of the first things defensive backs learn is how to read the flight of a football. Knowing the trajectory of an incoming pass can mean the difference in an interception or pass break up or being scored upon in front of 80,000 screaming fans.

Oklahoma’s Patrick Field thought he knew everything about trajectory coming out of Tulsa Union as a highly coveted recruit. But in the short year and a half since joining the Sooners, he has watched his path as a player and young man change in a variety of ways and he has had to adjust accordingly.

“It’s been a long journey, but we are finally getting to where we want to be,” Fields said.

Fields is on the verge of playing in his second College Football Playoff. However, this time he is heading in as a starter on the Sooner’s defense. But more importantly, he is heading in knowing exactly who he is and what he is about.

“It’s huge for. It’s an opportunity for me to live out everything I could imagine,” Fields said. “The College football playoffs. The biggest game of my life. It’s the opportunity to do everything I could have ever dreamed of.”

Fields is the starting free safety for a Sooner squad that jumped from being ranked 119 in the nation in 2018 to a top 30 unit this year.

Much of that success is credited to the arrival of coach Alex Grinch, who took over as the Sooner’s defensive coordinator last spring. But much if it has to also go to the players, like Fields, who came in looking to change the unit’s reputation.

“I feel like we’re a different team than previous ones,” Fields said. “Our mentality is different. The way we attack things is different. Our perspective is different.”

Fields had to change his perspective from his freshman season as well. After playing in only six games, he admits his mindset wasn’t where it needed to be.

“Last year was hard. I came in here and I was wanting to play immateriality as a freshman,” Fields said. “That’s kind of like a tough thing to deal with. For so long you are the man then when you get here, you’re just another person on the roster. That is really hard mentally. “It’s been an uphill battle. Fighting to get on the field and fighting myself, fighting trying to overcome myself and the negative emotions I had about not playing.”

Fields said he dove into his bible and studied scriptures to help him change his attitude.

“There’s probably a lot of things I could of handled better,” Fields said. “But I didn’t have any knowledge. So you kind of have to get burned to learn from things.”

Those life lessons have helped turn Fields career around. The 5-11, 192-pound sophomore has tallied 58 total tackles, a fumble recovery, two sacks and five pass breakups as he has started every game this season.

“A lot of people don’t realize, but that’s going to be the biggest battle in life is overcoming yourself,” Fields said. “We sell ourselves short of what we can accomplish in life.”

That same thought process applies in sports and in life for Fields.

“I’m doing well on the field, doing well academically,” Fields said. “I’m doing something I would have never imagined. I am going to school to be an accountant. I applied for my accelerated master’s program in the spring. Hopefully, I get accepted to that. I could have never imagined myself. I didn’t even know what an accountant was most of my life.”

Fields started out as a business and entrepreneur major. But football and class schedules didn’t work. So, he moved over to accounting and found out he had a knack for numbers.

Fields also found out something just as important that many high school and college athletes never quite pick up.

“I didn’t know that there is definitely more ways than being a professional athlete to make millions or six figures,” Fields said. “A lot of us think you have to be a pro athlete to make a lot of money. There are a lot of different things you can do in life. A lot of different ventures.”

It’s that mindset that he has tried to pass on to others. He wants the younger kids in his family to not try and rely on being the next Lamar Jackson or LeBron James to be a success in life.

“By you doing that you can open doors for people in your family and inspire others from back home,” Fields said. “Some of my younger cousins, I am always heavy on them about school and all that. A lot of them are taking AP classes, trying to do things they never thought of because they’ve seen I’ve done it. They’ve seen it’s achievable. I feel like I have kind of already changed the trajectory of things. I feel like I’ve I inspire my little cousins. At the end of the day, it makes me feel like a better person. The reason that we do life is to inspire people. That’s what you’re going to be remembered for.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Sooners pulling the disrespect card

By Michael Kinney

ATLANTA– DaShaun White has heard all the talk. Just like the rest of his Oklahoma squad, the sophomore linebacker knows exactly what the majority of the college football nation thinks of them.

The fourth-ranked Sooners have heard they don’t deserve to be in the playoffs and that the other three schools are in a different league than OU, who is making its third straight trip to the finals.

But for White, all the talk is just fuel to the Sooner’s fire.

“We’re used to that to be honest. It obviously caused a little bit of motivation” White said. “It’s one of those things where two teams showed up and have to play a football game and one of them wins.”

Oklahoma will face No. 1 LSU Saturday in the first semifinal of the College Football Playoffs. The nightcap with feature No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3 Clemson.

According to many, the Tigers got the much easier route to the championship game because they get to face a Sooners’ squad that has one loss on the season and doesn’t carry the same respect nationwide that the teams do.

“It’s definitely something we take into account,” OU linebacker Nik Bonnito said. “It’s obviously hard not to see all the noise that has been going around. But we’re just going to be doing what we’ve been doing this whole season. Doing our job and playing Oklahoma football.”

LSU may have added to the notches on the disrespect card during Thursday’s media session. Linebacker Patrick Queen decided not to go the politically correct route, like most players. He told the media what he really thought of Oklahoma’s offense.

“The o-line is not great, the backs are not great. But they still make it work. Jalen Hurts is a great quarterback and CeeDee Lamb is a great wide receiver. I feel like if we get the ball out of Jalen’s hands and make other people make plays, I feel like with this game plan we’ve got, we are going to dominate them. I feel very confident in what we’ve got.”

LSU wideout Ja’Marr Chase was even less impressed with the Oklahoma defense.

“I see a lot of fast guys,” Chase said. “A couple of them have tight hips, but some of them are slow, too. I think we’ll have good match-ups all around. We just want them to feel our speed coming up the field. That’s how we get open.”

Chase didn’t mince words when evaluating OU senior cornerback Parnell Motley.

“Nothing stands out about him too much,” Chase said. “I watch him. I see he’s—I don’t know if he’s that long. I don’t really know how tall he is. I see he’s kind of fast. He’ll try to put [his] hands on somebody just a little bit, but I’m ready for it. I want him to put his hands on me.”

The Tiger’s Tyler Shelvin also sung a familiar song in his assessment of the Oklahoma’s “one-man” offense.

“We just have to learn how to stop Jalen (Hurts) and we’ll be fine,” Shelvin said.

Publicly, the Sooners saying all the right things. While they acknowledge hearing all the criticism and slights being levied at their team, they pretty much have decided to not let it get in their heads.

If the Sooners make out of the semifinals and into the title game for the first time in four attempts, then that will be all the response they need to give to those who doubted them, according to Neville Gallimore.

“The thing I love about this group is we don’t really get caught up in the outside noise. I’m not the kind of person that really cares what people say about me, good or bad,” senior DT, Neville Gallimore said. “I respect it. Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. But at the end of the day, I’ve still got a job, we’ve still got a job to do as a team, and it’s going to get done at a high level. I feel like there’s a reason why people can’t play this game or can’t survive because they’re caught up in what other people are telling them, good or bad. You’ve got to make your own judgment and listen to the right voices, and the right voices are our coaches and the guy next to us that’s grinding with us. That’s all that matters at the end of the day.”

Kick-off for the Peach Bowl is set for 3 p.m. at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta. The winner moves on to the College Football Championship in two weeks.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Sooners try to move past suspensions

By Michael Kinney

ATLANTA– Oklahoma landed in Atlanta Sunday looking to focus on the Peach Bowl. With No. 1 LSU waiting on them in the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs, their full attention may need to be on the Tigers.

However, the first questions awaiting OU coach Lincoln Riley wasn’t about what the Sooners need to do to slow down Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow. They were on the three OU players who have been suspended for the playoff game.

For the first time, Riley confirmed Rhamondre Stevenson, Ronnie Perkins, and Trejan Bridges they will not be available for the semifinals.

However, Riley refused to go into detail Monday on why the three players were suspended. He would only say they will not play.

“They’re suspended right now,” Riley said. “That’s where I’m leaving it.”

Riley also announced that Delarrin Turner-Yell was injured during practice and is expected to miss the game

However, replacing the trio will not be as easy. That is especially true for Ronnie Perkins, who leads the Sooners in sacks from his defensive end position.

“We’re not a one-man show up front,” Riley said. “Haven’t been all year. Ronnie’s been a good player for us, but we’ve got a lot of good players up there, recruited a lot of good players, developed a lot of players. Our production, if you look at the front, has been pretty even across the board, and we’ve gotten it from a lot of different players. In several games, you go back and look, and several games where we’ve had a ton of sacks or a ton of pressures and rarely were they just coming from one person.”

One f those good players up front is defensive tackle Neville Gallimore. The senior will be playing in his third semifinal but has yet to advance to the title game.
“Guys already know what the deal is with us, the standard that we have for us as a group,” Gallimore said. “Despite what happens, we know what we got to do, and the primary thing is just focusing on the task at hand and make sure we play our best ball.”

On the offensive end, the loss of Stevenson in the OU backfield means a chance for another tailback to have an Impact. While Kennedy Brooks is expected to carry the load, Riley says a player such as TJ Pledger will have a chance to shine.

“T.J. is going to get some opportunities. He was a guy that we obviously felt like coming into the season — I remember it felt a lot like Rodney Anderson a few years ago when we still had Samaje and Joe. We kind of felt the same way about T.J. coming in,” Riley said. “We had experienced guys that had produced in the past that are very good players, but T.J. was practicing so well that we were just saying, man, we’re going to have to find ways to keep getting him involved because he’s just getting better and better. And he got injured as well and missed the first half of the season, but he’s come back, done a lot of work behind the scenes, a lot of confidence in him. I know he’ll be ready.”

Now that the Sooners have touched down in Atlanta and are in the middle of the gameweek, it’s time for them to get back to normal prearations.

For Gallimore, that means not worrying about the guys not on the field and focusing on the ones who are.

“I mean, you know, (Ronnie’s) our guy, but can’t really worry about that right now,” Gallimore said. “We’ve still got a job to do. Just trying to focus on that.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Hurts adds Heisman runner-up to resume

By Michael Kinney

The odds were stacked against Oklahoma from the start. Despite the incredible season Jalen Hurts produced, the chances of the Sooners producing three straight Heisman Trophy winners were going to be tough to cash in.

Yet, on Saturday night, Hurts was one of four finalists on stage at the New York Downtown Club for the Heisman presentation. But unlike that last two years, it was not a Sooners’ name who was called.

LSU quarterback Joe Barrow earned the 2018 Heisman Trophy in a runaway vote. In his only season at Oklahoma, Hurts was the runner-up.

The Sooners are the only program to ever produce five Heisman finalists in a four-year span. Hurts is the third transfer quarterback to OU to become a finalist.

“It was a very eventful weekend that only happens once in a lifetime, especially for a guy like me who’s in his last year of ball,” Hurts said. “It was something that felt really special, especially considering the opportunity I had to expose my family to certain things that I experience. Having my family around was great.”

Burrow racked up 841 first-place votes and 2,608 points. He won by the largest spread in the history of the award.

Hurts still accounted well for himself with 762 points and 12 first-place votes/ That was more than enough to hold off third-place finisher, Josh Fields of Ohio State and fourth place Chase Young, also of Ohio State.

Oklahoma State tailback, Chuba Hubbard, placed eighth. He was not invited to the ceremony.

Hurts was the 11th Sooner invited to New York since Heisman Trophy finalists were first named in 1982, the most nationally. He was also OU’s nation-leading 10th Heisman finalist since 2000, which is four more than the school with the next most during the span (Alabama has six).

It took a special season from Burrow to keep Hurts from taking home the award. Yet, Hurts numbers stack up with anyone who has ever taken home the Heisman.

Hurts has compiled 4,889 yards of total offense (3,634 passing, 1,255 rushing) and is second among OU quarterbacks in single-season rushing yards and rushing touchdowns (Jack Mildren had 1,289 rushing yards and 20 rushing TDs in 1971). He is just four total TDs shy of the school record of 55 set by Sam Bradford in 2008.

Hurts leads the nation in yards per pass attempt (11.8; the FBS record is 11.6), yards per completion (16.4), points responsible for per game (23.7; tied) and touchdowns accounted for (51; tied), while ranking third in total offense (376.1 ypg) and passing efficiency rating (200.3; the single-season FBS record is 199.4). He also ranks fourth nationally in completion percentage (.718; OU record is .709 by Baker Mayfield in 2016), seventh in rushing touchdowns (18; second among QBs) and 10th in passing touchdowns (32). He averages 279.5 passing yards and 96.5 rushing yards per contest.

Yet, all of that is seemingly secondary to Hurts with the Sooners still in the hunt for a national championship.

Oklahoma will play Burrow and his No. 1 ranked LSU Tigers in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Peach Bowl on Dec. 28. Even as he was surrounded by the glitz and trappings of New York, his mind was firmly on the task at hand.

“Just coming here (to Oklahoma), I think my whole purpose was to have opportunities to accomplish things that we want to accomplish as a team,” Hurts said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for us as a team, to take advantage of this time, work really hard and prepare to play our best ball. I’m anxious to get back with our guys and get back to work.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Oklahoma headed to the playoffs… again

Photo by Michael Kinney

By Michael Kinney

On the afternoon of Oct. 26, the sky was falling. At least that is the way fans around the University of Oklahoma seemed to be feeling after the Sooners fell 48-41 to Kansas State.

At the time the playoff hopes for OU seemed dashed. The general feeling around the nation that they had lost any chance of winning a national championship.

However, as coach Lincoln Riley has become fond of saying, this a situation they had been in before and encouraged his team to play out and see what happens.

Six weeks later the wait and see approach paid off. The Sooners heard their name called Sunday afternoon as one of the four teams to make the 2019 College Football Playoffs.

Oklahoma (12-1) earned the No. 4 seed. They will face off with No. 1 LSU (13-0) Dec. 28 the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

“We’re really, really excited to be back in the Playoff. A lot of teams start with that dream, and for this team to accomplish all we have up to this point and give ourselves an opportunity to keep playing and face a great team like LSU in the semifinals is reflective of everyone’s hard work and focus,” Riley said. “It’s going to be fun and we’re really looking forward to the challenge.”

The other semifinal game will feature No. 2 Ohio State (13-0) and No. 3 Clemson (13-0). Their matchup will take place Dec. 28 at the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona.

The 52nd annual Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl will be held at 3 p.m. in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium and will be nationally televised by ESPN. The winner will advance to play for the College Football Playoff National Championship in New Orleans on Jan. 13.

“The road to the National Championship once again comes through Atlanta this year as we host our second College Football Playoff Semifinal,” said Bob Somers, Peach Bowl chairman. “Both of these teams have had outstanding seasons and we are thrilled to welcome them to Atlanta, the Capital of College Football, where they will face off with the chance to march on to glory and a berth in the College Football Playoff National Championship.”

While Oklahoma is making its fourth playoff appearance in the past five years, this will be LSU’s first-ever trip. The Sooners are 0-3 in their previous semifinals.

The Sooners and Tigers have a recent championship history. LSU defeated a Bob Stoops led Oklahoma squad  21-14 in the 2004 BCS Championship.

LSU does have familiarity with OU quarterback Jalen Hurts from his three years at Alabama.

We’ve obviously played against him before,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “He actually beat us with his feet, he played great with his feet.”

This will be Oklahoma’s first trip to the Peach Bowl.

The Sooners are coming off a 30-23 overtime victory against Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Saturday. The Tigers destroyed Georgia 37-10 in the SEC championship.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better game with the Big 12 champion against the SEC champion,” said Gary Stokan, Peach Bowl CEO and president. “We’ve got a showdown between two storied programs that have combined for 10 National Championships and 65 conference championships, and feature two of the nation’s most prolific offenses led by two of the country’s best quarterbacks.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Sooners surive another Bears’ scare

By Michael Kinney

ARLINGTON – Before Oklahoma could think about its postseason aspirations, they had some unfinished business to take care of. When they took the field Saturday morning, their dominance of the Big 12 was on the line at the 2019 Big 12 Championship.

The Sooners came into the game having won the conference championship four straight years. They made it five with its 30-23 overtime win over No. 7 Baylor at AT&T Stadium. OU improves to 10-1 all-time in the conference title game.

“Winning championships is hard, and winning is not easy,” OU quarterback Jalen Hurts said. “Coach (Lincoln) Riley talked about it every day, emphasize it every time, so we talk about situations in the game where we may have momentum or we may not, regardless it’s not supposed to be easy. We expect it to be that way. The mental toughness of this team and how we go about our business every day, just putting emphasis on focus, energy, passion, kind of the monumental aspects of our team. We embrace it all and we attack.”

Wide receiver CeeDee Lamb earned the Most Outstanding Player award after hauling in eight catches for 173 yards, which is the second-most receiving yards in a championship game. In the past two championship games, Lamb has accounted for 14 catches and 340 yards.

“CeeDee has been a really, really good player for us for a long time,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “He’s a dynamic player and we have prided ourselves on getting the ball to our best players as much as we can and he did a great job with the opportunities that he’s had.”

All of Lamb’s work looked like it might be wasted when the Sooners and Bears started overtime. But a touchdown run by Rhamondre Stevenson gave OU the early lead and put the pressure on Baylor.

Then, it was up to the defense to close out the contest. Nik Bonitto picked up a third-down sack and Jalen Redmond got into the backfield on fourth down to pressure the ball out. The pass flew harmlessly to the ground and the Sooner’s celebration began.

Hurts completed 17 of 21 passes for 287 yards and a touchdown and rushed 23 times for 38 yards.

Kennedy Brooks rushed 17 times for 59 yards. He also caught two passes for 24 yards.

The OU defense racked up five sacks on three Baylor quarterbacks and held them to 265 total yards.

“We pride ourselves to be as disciplined as possible,” OU safety Patrick Fields said. “We try to play as fast as possible and as aggressive as possible and make teams really work to beat us. We made Baylor work extremely hard just to get a single yard.”

It was in the Sooners’ second possession of the day, that Lamb showed Baylor exactly what they missed out on in their first matchup when he had to sit out due to an injury. The junior broke tackles from seemingly the entire Bear’s defense on his way to a 71-yard reception down to the six-yard line.

“I felt like at that point I was opening it up for my teammates,” Lamb said. “I wasn’t frustrated or anything, I wasn’t thinking nothing, I was just telling (Riley) what I was seeing and we just kind of went from there.”

Two plays later Brooks finished off the three-play drive with a six-yard TD run that gave Oklahoma a 7-0 advantage.

The Sooners were on the verge of going up by two touchdowns on a Charleston Rambo catch in the endzone. However, replay officials said he didn’t have control and it was wiped away. Oklahoma settled for a field goal.

With the way the OU defense was playing in during most of the first half, it didn’t seem to matter if the Sooners ever scored again. Led by Kenneth Murray, the OU defense swarmed all over the Bears. They allowed a total of 16 yards and one first down in the first quarter.

Even in the second quarter when Hurts fumbled and the Bears recovered on the Sooner’s 30-yard line, Oklahoma’s defense held fast and forced Baylor to kick a field goal.

A second Hurts turnover deep in Oklahoma territory set the Bears up again. However, this time the Bears made the Sooners pay. Backup quarterback Gerry Bohanon threw a TD to Tyquan Thorton in the back of the endzone to tie the contest at 10-10.

Baylor added another field goal to close out the first half with a 13-0 lead.

The Bears’ defense held Oklahoma scoreless in the second quarter, which was only the ninth time in 44 quarters that the Sooners haven’t scored in a quarter in a championship game.

Oklahoma came out of halftime with a tone-setting drive. Hurts led the offense down the field and inside the Bears 20-yard line but that is where they stalled.

The Sooners settled for a Gabe Brkic field goal to tie the game.

Baylor would not be so lucky on Oklahoma’s next possession. Big plays by Lamb and Stevenson set up a Nick Basquine touchdown catch. It was his third career TD reception and first since the 2016 season

Trailing 23-13, it looked like the game was getting away from the Bears. They then inserted their third quarterback Jacob Zeno. On his second play from scrimmage, he completed a short pass to Tresten Abner, who sprinted 81 yards for the touchdown.

Trailing by three, it looked like the Bears were going to hit the endzone again but a game-saving hustle tackle by Tre Brown forced Baylor to settle for a field goal and send it into overtime.

“We are an effort-based defense, and you got to see us make one of the key plays of the game on a great effort by Tre running them down, and then the defensive line was relentless all day,” Riley said. “That’s the way you’ve got to play. Our guys have bought in and we’ve done it early, and it’s kind of time here in key moments and games, and we’ve gotten better and better as it’s went on.”

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider

Brooks leads Sooners past Pokes

 

By Michael Kinney

STILLWATER — Kennedy Brooks really likes playing against Oklahoma State. AS a true freshman in 2018 he ran for 165 yards and scored three touchdowns to help lead Oklahoma past their rivals.

Brooks added to his resume Saturday when he accounted for 160 yards on 22 carries as the Sooners romped over the Cowboys 34-16 in Stillwater.

“It’s Kennedy.” OU offensive lineman Adrian Ealy said. “He always does the same thing each game. He runs hard, with the talent he has it’s hard to go down. For an O-line like us, he makes our job easy.”

With high winds affecting the passing game, Brooks led an imposing ground game that dismantled the OSU’s defense. As a team, Oklahoma rushed for 299 yards. That includes 71 from quarterback Jalen Hurts.

But it was Brooks who set the tone for Oklahoma (11-1). In his past four games, he has rushed for 534 yards and averaged 6.7 yards per carry.

“He’s been very steady. He just continues to be him. He’s not missing cuts, and he’s very in sync with the offensive line,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “He’s been so close to popping his standard 60-70 yarders. There was, I swear, five times tonight where we were like, ‘He’s out.’ Despite that, he’s had a lot of big runs. He’s held on to the ball great. He always kind of gets what’s there. He never really leaves much on the table.”

Coming into the matchup, it was Oklahoma State’s tailback who was expected to have the prolific night. Chuba Hubbard leads the nation in rushing and is a Heisman candidate as he has averaged 166.5 yards per contest.

But it was the OU defense that was able to slow Hubbard down. He was held to 111 yards on 24 carries.

“He had a little bit of room early. We made a few adjustments, settled in a little bit and defended the run a little better as the game went on,” Riley said. “I thought the d-line was pretty disruptive. There weren’t too many clean running lanes, especially after that first quarter. The few times he did get loose we did a good job of getting him on the ground. His longest was 22 yards. If you would’ve told us that before the game, we would’ve taken it.”

Senior Parnell Motley paced the OU defense with an interception and two forced fumbles.

The win was the Sooners four in a row since their stunning loss to Kansas State in October. It also runs its record to 21 straight wins in the month of November. The streak dates back to 2014.

The victory also keeps alive Oklahoma’s goal of making it to a third straight College Football Playoff. With Alabama and Minnesota over the weekend, the Sooner’s path becomes a little more clear.

But with the Big 12 Championship game taking place Saturday in Arlington, Riley doesn’t want his squad looking ahead.

“We’re just going to try to beat Baylor next week,” Riley said.

Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider