The No. 13 Oklahoma Sooners brought its regular season to a close with a flurry of offensive fireworks to remain unbeaten at home this year. They beat the TCU Horned Frogs by a final of 69-45 and amassed over 607 yards of offense en route to their tenth win of the season, ending with a 10-2 record.
Compared to last season’s 6-7 catastrophe, Brent Venables seems to have evolved as a head coach and leader, and OU fans should confident in him and the team as they head to SEC country next season.
The offense played much more like they did against the West Virginia Mountaineers after a sluggish game against BYU. However, the defense showed it also still has issues to solve, allowing over 520 yards themselves. This final regular season recap will breakdown the best performances of the game and explore the possibilities for the Sooners’ next game.
The Sooners’ Offense Rolls, OU Earns 10th Win
Gabriel and Stoops Strike Again
Dillon Gabriel was masterful on Friday, finishing with 400 yards and three scores through the air, while also rushing for 36 yards and another touchdown. That gives him 3,660 passing yards and 30 touchdowns and another 12 rushing touchdowns, giving him his best statistical season of his career.
Gabriel’s deep ball was on point in this one and he completed passes of 50, 59, and 53 yards, two of which went for touchdowns. He also was on time, in rhythm, and accurate, completing 24 of 38 passes for a 63% completion percentage.
After this game, Gabriel moved into fourth all-time in touchdowns accounted for, seventh in passing yards, and eighth in passing touchdowns. It was a great way to cap off his career at Oklahoma, and while he may not have the hardware of his predecessors, he will be remembered as one of the better quarterbacks in Sooner history and college football history.
His favorite target of the day was once again Drake Stoops, who had his third 100-yard receiving game of the year. His final line was 12 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. Stoops will finish the season as possibly the best receiver in the conference this year. He has been Mr. Reliable for the Sooners for over two years and he will go down as one of the toughest, hardest working and most productive receiver to ever put on an Oklahoma uniform.
The Rest of the Offense’s Production
Not to be outdone, Gavin Sawchuk also had himself monster game: 130 rushing yards and three scores. The redshirt freshman from Littleton, Colorado ended the season with four-straight 100 yard rushing games. Now looking ahead to next season, he has undoubtedly established himself as the number one running back on the team.
Nic Anderson, Jayden Gibson, and Brenen Thompson all caught long bombs from Gabriel, with Gibson and Thompson both scoring touchdowns. All three are slated to return next year, barring transfers, giving the Sooners lots of continuity in their receiving corps.
Abysmal Play From OU’s Defense
When asked after the game about his defense’s performance in the second half, Brent Venables said: “Abysmal. An abomination of football.”
He’s also not exaggerating. Going into halftime, OU led 42-16. After the break, Venables’ unit gave up 29 points and TCU’s 45 total points were the most by an opponent against the Sooners all year.
Oklahoma struggled in the second half of the season, after being so dominant early on. The good news is that many of the Sooners’ most important players will presumably be back next year: Danny Stutsman, Jaren Kanak, Ethan Downs, Kip Lewis, Petyon Bowen, Dasan McCullough and Gentry Williams, to name a few.
Venables and his staff will have a lot of work to do in the offseason, but the offenses they’ll be playing in the SEC will be markedly different than the ones from the Big 12. The defense will need to get deeper, stronger, and tougher if they want to compete with the bigger, more physical teams of the SEC.
Dear Billy Bowman, Please Come Back!
Billy Bowman returned yet another interception for a touchdown against the Horned Frogs. He picked off Josh Hoover’s pass in the final quarter, running and spinning through half of the TCU offense en route to a 45-yard pick-six.
The junior from Denton, Texas had a career year and ranked second in the nation in interceptions with six and set a school record with three pick-sixes and 238 interception return yards. He finished as Oklahoma’s second-leading tackler on the season and was one of the team’s best playmakers, regardless of position.
He is only a junior, so he could return to Norman for his final year of eligibility, but it’s not yet clear if he will. If he does come back, that would be one of the biggest wins of the offseason for the Sooners. His leadership and level of play would be invaluable to Oklahoma and he could be one of the centerpieces of what will hopefully be one of the best defenses in the SEC. Only time will tell, but Sooner fans and coaches will certainly be doing their best to convince him to play one more year.
So, Where Will Oklahoma Play Next?
Regardless of what bowl game Oklahoma is selected for, they will be facing some good competition. But Oklahoma’s bowl and opponent will be affected by whether or not the Texas Longhorns make the College Football Playoff.
If Texas makes the Playoff, then OU should be in line for a trip to the Alamo Bowl against a Pac-12 opponent like Arizona or Oregon State. If the Longhorns miss the Playoff, then Oklahoma would be traveling to Orlando for the Pop-Tarts Bowl against a team from the ACC, most likely Florida State or Louisville.
Either way, Oklahoma will have one more chance to work through some struggles and concepts before their move to the SEC next year.
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