Over the next three days Sooners Illustrated will look back at the 2015 regular season for the Oklahoma Sooners. It was Oklahoma’s best regular season since 2004, when Oklahoma won the Big 12 Championship and made the BCS National Championship against USC.
We’ll take it month by month, breaking Oklahoma’s season down into three segments.
Here we go . . .
Well, the season started slow. No literally, it took Oklahoma seven possessions to score its first touchdown of the year in the opener against Akron and needed 12 possessions before it found the end zone against Tennessee.
Some were calling for first-year offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley's head at that point. Looking back now, it seems a little silly.
The Sooners pushed through those slow starts to win all three games in the non-conference season, but with some doubt in them. The sputtering offense gave some worry, and then the defense allowed Tulsa, which is currently ranked 12th in the nation in passing offense, to score 38 points and racked up 603 yards of total offense. That’s still the highest total of the season.
As far as stress goes, it probably ranked pretty high in the eyes of Oklahoma, which found a snag against every team despite outscoring its three opponents, 106-65.
Oklahoma was unbeaten through the non-conference season, but it still had major questions. Its best cornerback, Jordan Thomas, had been suspended twice in the first month, too.
Even with a major early-season signature win, the Sooners were still a far cry from Big 12 Championship contender, let alone a College Football Playoff selection.
Highlight: Baker Mayfield to Sterling Shepard for the tip-toe down the sideline and the win against Tennessee – It was far more Shepard, who came on like a freight train late against the Volunteers, than it was Mayfield for the win.
Wide open on the out route, stutter step on the sideline, Superman-style leap through two defenders and the dive into the end zone: Early in the season, Shepard has one of the greatest single plays of his career.
Lowlight: P.J. Mbanasor gets a baptism by fire after Jordan Thomas’ suspension – Mbanasor found out the night before the Sooners’ win against Tulsa that he would have to start in just his third career game. He learned very quickly that things wouldn’t come easy. Tulsa passed for 427 yards, still the most of any Oklahoma opponent, and most of it came off victimizing the freshman. The sight gave many fans worries about if the 2015 secondary was just a reincarnation of the 2014 unit that was one of the worst in the FBS.
Top performer: Baker Mayfield.
The numbers weren’t huge, but Mayfield endeared himself to Sooner Nation with his efforts late in the win against Tennessee. Through the first three games, Mayfield was still an unknown commodity, but like Oklahoma as a team, he had plenty of potential.
He said what?
“Everybody kept fighting, kept play. It’s mental toughness and discipline to keep playing hard and the faith that things will work, things will come. It was a little late but they came. That’s what you appreciate as a coach, your players mental attitude and their toughness and character, especially when you’re coming in to this season and there hasn’t been a lot glowing about us as of last year. For them to hang in there in that environment, in that situation and to come through like they do, that’s pretty special.” – Bob Stoops after the win against Tennessee