I can remember several trips I have made since 1970 to the antiquated Cotton Bowl for the annual Red River Rivalry that were more enjoyable than the latest one, where the Sooners did not emotionally resemble the Sooners we are all accustomed to seeing in the second half and got beat by the Steers 28-10 in a game that arguably was closer than the score indicated. Or was it? I think it was.
Every stat that one wants to micro-analyze are available for all to see, but the most important stat is that we lost 28-10.
Secondly, the next important stat wasn't the fact that we did not cover the spread for the gamblers, but that we had an embarrassing 11 penalties and fumbled SIX times losing THREE, which is the kiss of death on any level of the game of football.
There is certainly a case that can be made against Joe Jon Finley's offensive pass interference call being the right call on the long gain to No. 19, and the ruling on the backward pass to AD on which Texas scored a "blue light special" cheap touchdown.
But FIVE false starts? Stop the pain! These are indefensible, especially when one considers that the majority of these penalties come from our offensive guards, who are lined up next to the center who just happens to snap the football which is the linemen's signal to move, legally that is.
I honestly felt good at the half with a three-point lead, getting the ball first after winning the toss and deferring, and the fact that the Sooners are so well physically conditioned. At the half, I would have bet a bunch of cash, if I were the gambling kind, that the Sooners would win Saturday's game by two touchdowns. I am really happy I saved my cash. I would have been betting with my heart and not my head.
Texas does have a very good football team and unlike some fans who have jumped off the Sooner Schooner, including many in the beloved, local "Karnack the Magnificent" media, I ain't budging.
OU has seven games remaining on the schedule. Yes, they are all Big 12 contests, which do thicken the plot, but it also makes things more interesting. The Sooners have the players and the coaching to run the table. That's a 10-2 record and a nice bowl game (no offense Shreveport).
If we stumble once and finish 9-3 it is still a nice bowl game and an improvement over last season when we went 8-4. Some experts are predicting another trip to San Diego to face Cal in the Holiday Bowl on December 28.
Accomplishing these seemingly lofty numbers will, without a doubt, be hard to accomplish. Winning at Missouri and at A&M on our best days won't be easy. If we go on the road and fumble six times and have 11 penalties, then we are deader than than a potential relationship between CNN's Nancy Grace and O.J. Simpson in Columbia and in College Station. Plus, Tech is an excellent team. Thank God this one is in Norman.
We're at Baylor, which is their last game of the year and Guy Morriss has done as good a coaching job as anyone in the Big 12 inasmuch as Baylor "believes" they can play with anyone. And finally, who the hell knows what could happen in Stillwater Thanksgiving weekend during Bedlam? I can only imagine how much cash old T. Boone would pony up for a Cowboy butt kicking of OU.
I look at it this way. The OU players have to step up and continue to improve, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But the D isn't that far off. I know some will disagree with that statement but it's only one man's opinion so rip away on the message boards. The Sooners cannot continue to self-destruct offensively. The coaches have to continue to coach these kids up and not allow any player to think that this year is a "wash", because it isn't. The chance to still go 10-2 or 9-3 exists and it's a better than average chance, from my perspective. And, no, I am not unbiased nor am I a "football expert"
Iowa State has lost 37 of the past 38 times they have played against OU. The Sooners lead this series 65-5-2 and should win this game convincingly. Or let's simply put it this way, we NEED to win this game convincingly.
With AD's father at the game for the first time since No. 28 was in junior high, you've got to believe that there will be a little extra giddy up in the young Peterson's step and that the other Sooners will feed off that this week. No one practices harder than AD on this team and you have to believe Adrian will have a great week of practice and, along with Paul Thompson, pick this team up and get back to the business of winning football games.
The Sooner defense is an enigma. Why aren't we better? Was the OU defense overrated coming in to the season? Are we too young in the wrong positions? Where has the dominating defensive end and linebacker play gone?
We have seen glimpses of it and I firmly believe the effort is being put forth but the results have not been up to the expectations of the Sooner defensive tradition. We are ranked 41st nationally in total defense and 48th nationally in scoring defense. These are very unSooner-like stats.
I look for the OU defense to fly around the ball Saturday all the while knowing that ISU QB Bret Meyer is a great athlete who can run. Contain. Contain. Contain. Tackle. Tackle. Tackle. Get nasty and physical. Just like Texas did to us.
Iowa State has the lowest ranked run defense in the Big 12. With AD's dad in the stands, could we all be in for a special performance by the best player in America this Saturday at the hideous kickoff time of 11:30 a.m.? I hope AD has a day he will never forget and puts a smile on his Dad's face that can't be sandblasted off. Of course, with AD being the focal point of all defenses we play, play- action becomes a huge part of our offensive game and I love the three-tight end sets OU utilizes.
Malcolm Kelly was too silent in Dallas. That has to change Saturday while keeping the impressive duo of Juaquin Iglesias and Manuel Johnson busy as well. This can all be accomplished if we keep our hands on the pigskin and not give the ball away to an ISU team that needs "hope" to stay in this game and win arguably their biggest road Big 12 game in Cyclone history.
Let's hope the Sooner faithful pack Owen Field as usual Saturday morning, everyone uses their tickets, and we show our team we are still proud to be Sooner Fans and are going to remain such through hell, fire and brimstone no matter what the scoreboard or the "experts" say.
It's easy to be the biggest Sooner fan alive when we are playing for national championships, but the mark of a real fan is to weather the storms that approach the program and continue to believe in Coach Stoops and his staff. I got no problem drinking Coach Stoops' "Kool Aid".
The bottom line, as Stone Cold Steve Austin used to say, is that we need to stomp a hole in the Cyclones backside and walk it dry because, as we all know, there is only ONE Oklahoma.
(Stop by and say hello to J.R. prior to every Sooner home game at J.R.'s BBQ trailer, which sits right in front of the old field house in the fan fest area. You can also check out J.R.'s Sooner Slobber-Knocker merchandise and BBQ sauces at www.jrsbarbq.com
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