The 118th Bedlam game between No. 9 Oklahoma and No. 22 Oklahoma State delivered on its hype, in what could be the last meeting between the teams for a long time. Unfortunately for the Sooners, they could not escape Stillwater with a win.
Turnovers, penalties, and inconsistent play on offense dogged OU in the Kansas game, and they spelled doom for Oklahoma this time. The Cowboys took advantage of two fumbles and an interception, and controlled possession for most of the game. So, what can be gathered from this game and what should fans expect from the Sooners going forward?
Reacting to Oklahoma’s 27-24 Bedlam Loss
What happened to the explosive Sooners offense?
Dillon Gabriel played a much better game compared to his performance against Kansas, the Sooners just couldn’t execute when they needed it most. They were 5-12 on third down and 0-2 on fourth down; Jovantae Barnes fumbled on the OSU 34-yard line; Gabriel and center, Andrew Raym had a miscommunication that led to a botched snap; Gabriel also threw an interception on the first drive of the second half; Zach Schmit missed another field goal that would have tied the game late in the second quarter; Nic Anderson dropped what could have been a 60-yard touchdown.
The Sooners’ offense could not find any consistency against Oklahoma State, and it starts with offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby. His playcalling worked against teams like Tulsa and Iowa State, but the last three games have demonstrated how far he and the offense have to go.
The three turnovers were one problem, but there were also far too many short passes, which didn’t gain many yards and became predictable. The best example of this came on OU’s final play of the drive, when they needed five yards and Gabriel completed a quick out to Drake Stoops for three yards. There just has to be a better play call than an out route to the short side of the field with the game on the line.
On a side note, Drake Stoops was phenomenal in this game. He caught 12 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown and came up clutch on multiple drives for the Sooners. He was also the victim of an atrocious pass interference that went uncalled in the end zone that should have given OU the ball on the one-yard line down 27-20 with less than five minutes left. But that’s no excuse for Oklahoma, Jeff Lebby and his unit will need to get back in the film foom and rethink their offensive philosophy.
The Defense Improved, But Questions Remain
Given that Oklahoma was playing without All-American hopeful, Danny Stutsman, their defensive unit played incredibly well. Kip Lewis filled in for Stutsman and did just about everything that was expected of him, as did freshman linebacker, Kobie McKinzie. The defensive line also held Ollie Gordon II to 4.2 yards per carry, which is impressive considering Gordon’s two games before that. They also stopped the OSU offense on three of their four fourth downs.
However, the secondary played too much soft coverage and gave Alan Bowman plenty of open receivers and easy throws. On top of that, the Sooners didn’t sack Bowman once and hardly pressured him at all, which made it all too easy to pick the OU defensive backs apart.
It seemed that every time the Cowboys’ quarterback dropped back, he had a receiver open outside of the hashes with room to work. The cornerbacks have undoubtedly been the weakest point of Brent Venables’ defense, and Bedlam only emphasized that more.
Are the Sooners an Undisciplined Team?
Oklahoma committed eight penalties for 55 yards, but none were bigger than the two that they had on the same play early in the fourth quarter. The Sooners were leading 21-17 and had just pinned the Cowboys on their own three-yard line. On a third and five, freshman defensive back Makari Vickers was called for an incredibly questionable pass interference.
Brent Venables was then whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing with the call. So, instead of fourth and five on the OSU eight-yard line, it ended up being first and ten on the OSU 38-yard line. That drive culminated in an Ollie Gordon touchdown to put Oklahoma State up 24-21.
In a game where momentum shifted at the drop of a hat, those two penalties gave Oklahoma State all the help they needed. Whether or not Venables deserved the penalty is a different discussion, but he simply put himself or the team in a position like that.
It’s easy to forget that this is only the second year under Venables’ leadership, and while he’s done a great job of establishing a new culture, he’ll have to work with his team and himself to rein in the miscues.
Rest of the Season Expectations
Well, Oklahoma still has a lot to figure out. The good news is, there is still so much of the season left for OU to improve. They have three games remaining against West Virginia, BYU, and TCU, all of which are winnable.
The Big 12 Championship game is still on the table, but OU will need help from others to get there. But truthfully, they should just worry about winning the rest of their games and getting to 10 wins. Given where the Sooners were a year ago, 10 wins would make a hugely successful season. Oklahoma needs to keep its head up and focus on creating positive momentum moving forward.