The Oklahoma Sooners became a national championship contender in the final month of the season

Sooners Illustrated takes a look back at OU's run in the regular season one month at a time.

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.

Time to close it out.

NOVEMBER

 

What happened?

Quickly moving past a victory against Iowa State in the first week of the month, November became a proving ground for Oklahoma, which didn’t come into the month as a contender for the College Football Playoff. The Sooners were considered to be the fourth-best team in the conference at that point – a team playing well but against lesser competition. And the Sooners had to go on the road for two of their final three games.

It starts with Baylor, the team believed at the start of the month to be the Big 12’s best shot at a national title. In Waco, Oklahoma makes its first real statement with a 44-34 victory. Oklahoma proves that it belongs in the discussion.

As Oklahoma prepared for its game against TCU, questions swirled around the status of Horned Frogs’ duo of Trevone Boykin and Josh Doctson. Neither played but TCU rallied back in the second half with the Sooners’ offense stagnant because of a concussion to Baker Mayfield.

Save for Steven Parker’s fingertips and his two-point conversion gamble, Oklahoma loses to TCU for the second straight year. Only Parker’s play is a success. He saves the Sooners’ season after TCU rallied in the fourth quarter. With quarterback Baker Mayfield healthy, Oklahoma was out to a 23-7 lead at halftime and cruising. The win showed just how important Mayfield is to Oklahoma.

The perfect cap on the season came in Stillwater with the nation watching in prime time. There hasn’t been a more thorough domination this season of two teams ranked in the top-15 than Oklahoma’s Bedlam win, which seemed so easy for Oklahoma.

The Sooners went from College Football Playoff afterthought to the national-championship favorite in just a few weeks.

Highlight: Dominating Bedlam ­– Because it finished its season a week before almost every other playoff contender, Oklahoma had to make a loud statement. The Sooners did just that with their greatest margin of victory in the rivalry game since 2003, and Oklahoma’s 44 first-half points were the most in Bedlam since 1970. It’s the lasting image of Oklahoma’s season thus far, even measuring up to the victory against Baylor.

Lowlight: Baker Mayfield watching on the sideline in the second half against TCU with a concussion – As the lead was whittled away against the Horned Frogs, the worry grew two-fold. Would Oklahoma lose and would Mayfield be out longer than just one game? By this time, Mayfield was a serious Heisman contender. In a month where no a lot went wrong, the uncertainty around Mayfield’s situation was the closest thing to a loss.

Top performer: Sterling Shepard.

The run game has stepped up, but it’s been a little bit at the expense of the passing attack. Samaje Perine (580 yards) and Joe MixonJoe Mixon (318) have been great over the last four games, but it’s been the Shepard Show to keep Oklahoma balanced. Shepard has averaged eight catches and 117 yards per game. He has more receptions and receiving yards than the rest of the Sooners combined.

He said what?

“It’s very satisfying for coaches to have your hard work pay off and players accept it and work hard to improve. We’ve been fortunate to have a lot of really good years. We’ve had eight other Big 12 champions, and they’re all special. These aren’t easy to get. But this has been a great year that way in the way players have responded.” – Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops after the Big 12-clinching Bedlam win.


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