Here at the O’Zone, we frequently find ourselves in heated sports debates. So, like any blogger worth his word processor, the best way to hash it out is with the written word. Each week, a pair of O’Zone writers will take turns defending one side of the latest divisive topics in the sports world, and you, the reader, will determine the winner.
This week, we’re taking on the Oklahoma Sooners. After a weekend full of upsets, the Sooners are left on the wrong side of the win-loss column following a 33-23 loss to Houston on Saturday. Is the season all ready over for Big Game Bob, Baker and company?
Point: OU has no shot at playoff after loss to Houston
Assistant Sports Editor
It’s over. Call it.
The Sooners are done sooner than expected, and there’s no coming back. The committee wont allow it. Even if OU finds some way to win out, which it wont, an embarrassing loss to Houston in Week 1 will hang over its head like Mayfield’s locks from his do-rag.
You thought Mayfield and his stud backfield were going to tear through their schedule like Ronda Rousey through Cat Zingano. Instead, you were treated to Rousey and Holly Holm. That is to say it wasn’t only an upset, it was a beat down.
Houston took the Sooners to school, beat them at kickball during recess and stole their lunch money on pizza and tater tot day. It was a demoralizing loss for a team many picked to be the last one standing come January.
The No. 14 Sooners couldn’t cover anyone. If Cougar wide receiver Steven Dunbar could figure out how to catch, he would have routinely torched a secondary still reeling from the loss of cornerback Zack Sanchez to the NFL. Seemingly every other play, quarterback Greg Ward Jr. had Dunbar deep behind the OU defense; it was pitch and catch football.
If that wasn’t enough, the No. 6 Cougars proved Oklahoma has no pass rush to speak of following the departures of Eric Striker and Charles Tapper. Ward was sacked only twice in 40 drop backs. By comparison, Mayfield was dropped five times on 33 drop backs. I said it two weeks ago, and I’ll say it again: Mayfield is nothing without a defense.
Sure, OU gets a tune-up game this week against Louisiana Monroe, and the Sooners might gain some of their confidence back, but then it’s right back into the fire against Ohio State. If OU thought Ward was a tough opponent, it has another thing coming with J.T. Barrett, he of the seven touchdowns in one game. Big Ten teams aren’t scared of Big 12 defenses. Barrett will have a field day, and OU will be staring down the barrel of a 1-2 record.
Meanwhile, the Big 12 itself presents no easy task. Texas looks much improved after a double-overtime win against Notre Dame, and the Longhorns upset the Sooners last season in the Red River Rivalry game. Baylor is all ready in midseason form. Patrick Mahomes and the Red Raiders lead the FBS in passing. TCU is always up to make things interesting, and Oklahoma State is fortified with the most glorious mullet since Billy Ray Cyrus. Also, they have this guy. It’s not hard to envision a scenario where the Sooners fail to reach seven wins.
If anyone would like to disembark the OU bandwagon, I would advise doing so sooner rather than later.
Counterpoint: OU can salvage its season
Hold the phone.
Oklahoma’s season is far from over. Winning out puts the Sooners right back in the playoff conversation.
Sure, Houston’s win may have looked like Nate Diaz beating Conor McGregor, but who had the last laugh in that series?
Oklahoma looked in midseason form early. Joe Mixon punched in a 32-yard touchdown for the game’s first score. From then on, the Sooners looked gassed, much like McGregor in his first fight against Diaz.
However, McGregor came back in the second fight and dominated when it counted – at the start and the finish.
OU’s schedule sets up perfectly for it to run the table the rest of the season. The Sooners get cupcake Louisiana Monroe next week at home. Then they host Ohio State. After a week to work out the kinks in the system, OU will be back to its elite form. The Sooners have the firepower to defeat the challenge-less Buckeyes.
The Big 12 might look daunting at first, but it isn’t as terrifying as it seems.
TCU has a defense that gave up 41 points to South Dakota State, an FCS team.
Oklahoma State has holes at defensive end and in the secondary. Oh, and don’t forget about that atrocious offensive line.
Texas Tech’s defense might as well be duct taped together because they would be about equal in performance.
Texas did look impressive, but still allowed 47 points in Week 1. The Longhorns quarterback situation still looks shaky, along with the defense.
Baylor has more distractions in its program than a three-ring circus. The talent is there, but the turmoil could cause them to slip up.
Oklahoma is better than West Virginia, Kansas State, Iowa State and the surprisingly 1-0 Kansas.
So, Oklahoma has a legitimate chance at finishing the season undefeated.
Which other teams can finish the season undefeated? Not many come to mind. Maybe Alabama and Clemson, but both have serious competition. Iowa’s schedule is the most favorable in college football, but it still has to play the winner of the Big Ten East, aka Michigan, Michigan State or Ohio State. The only other team that could reasonably go undefeated is Houston.
The likelihood of one of those teams going undefeated is not good.
If Oklahoma runs the table, it should be in the discussion for the playoff.