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.
Let’s keep it going.
Not to get all Charles Dickens-y, but October really was the best of times for Oklahoma and the worst of times. It started off pretty good, with a surprisingly easy victory against then-ranked West Virginia, then the bottom dropped out. The Sooners lost by just seven points, but the 2015 Red River Showdown was one of the worst in recent memory – even though Oklahoma has lost two of the last three.
A one-dimensional Texas still ran over the Sooners and stopped Oklahoma’s offense, which has been extremely potent before and after the only loss of the season.
But with the fall came the rise.
Oklahoma center Ty Darlington said after the Bedlam victory that the Sooners wouldn’t be where they are now without that loss. Oklahoma posted its first Big 12 shutout since 2010 and the largest league shutout since 2003, and then it held one of the best passing offenses in the country to just 253 yards in the air. The Sooners followed that up with another 55-point win on the road on Halloween to close out October.
Oklahoma hit the ground running here in a soft part of the schedule that allowed it to build momentum for what would be a grueling – and telling – November. The defense found its form, and the running game got going. After rushing for more than 170 yards only once in its first five games, Oklahoma hasn’t rushed for less than 230 yards in any game seven-game win streak. October started that. It turned the Air Raid into the Blitzkrieg.
Highlight: Kansas State shutout starts the surge – The Sooners got their largest Big 12 shutout since 2003 on the road at Kansas State in a game that Oklahoma really needed to dominate coming off the loss to Texas. Although, there were plenty of other highlights during the month: Charles Tapper’s three-sack day against Kansas, 305 rushing yards against Texas Tech or even Dakota Austin stepping up in Zack Sanchez's place against the Red Raiders. Each said something about Oklahoma and showed how much the Sooners changed in less than a month.
Lowlight: Marcus Johnson runs through six players for a touchdown as Texas runs over Oklahoma – And it might have been a single lowest point of the season as far as one single play. The replay won’t be quickly forgotten by Oklahoma fans, who watched as their team struggled to tackle all game against Texas. On this one particular play, Oklahoma’s lack of effort was the worst part.
Top performer: Charles Tapper.
Most people had written Tapper off after last season. Some considered him a waste of athletic ability. He disappeared for an entire season when he seemed ready to meet all that potential. In October, he became that great player once again. A three-sack game on Halloween night made Tapper an NFL prospect once again.
He said what?
“It's very frustrating. That was my last time down in the Cotton Bowl; last time playing those guys. Obviously I wanted to spike that flag in the middle of the field and put the Golden Hat on and enjoy a win in a big-time rivalry game. That's very frustrating. Then regardless of who you're playing, very frustrating because we put an incredible amount of time and effort into what we do. It is disappointing in that aspect. It's just gotta be something. You have to take it personal. That's the only way it changes; Is if you take it personal. You can't blame anybody else. We have to do better as an entire team, but each group has to look at it and say, 'It's our fault.' Because that's how you get better is when you take personal responsibility of it. That's what we're gonna do. You're not gonna hear me ever try to deflect on any other lineman or any other group. It's gotta start with me personally.” – Oklahoma center Ty Darlington on the loss to Texas