Farewell to an unforgettable (and unfortunate) year
Oklahoma's 2021 campaign comes to an end tonight with an Alamo Bowl date with Oregon. For that, we should be thankful.
It’s tough writing the obituary on a season that isn’t over, but let’s be honest. OU’s season ended weeks ago.
A bit ironic typing that one year after Dan Mullen said something similar about his Florida Gators, who just got embarrassed by OU in the Cotton Bowl. But the Gators’ football program didn’t lose its head coach and nearly implode, while the Sooners were seemingly on the brink of something catastrophic in the days after losing their final regular-season game.
Bob Stoops wouldn’t, however, let that happen.
The Hall of Fame coach came out retirement and to the rescue. He rallied a fanbase, scorned by a head coach only referred to by acronym now around Norman. He provided a leader to a team that desperately needed one. And one of his pupils, Brent Venables, will soon take the reins.
Wednesday’s Alamo Bowl between Oklahoma and Oregon is almost inconceivable. Both teams had playoff aspirations as late as mid-November. OU still had Lincoln Riley on staff and Mario Cristobal seemed steady in Eugene.
Then the college football world flipped.
The coach who OU fans won’t name ditched Norman for Hollywood.
Cristobal went home to Miami.
And now the Sooners and Ducks are in a meaningless bowl game that might only be saved if one or both of the following things happen:
Caleb Williams announces he will return to OU in 2022 after the game is over.
Bob Stoops gets drenched with a tequila bath, because as a society, we’re apparently past dumping gallons of Gatorade on to head coaches’ heads after winning a bowl game.
Outside of those two things, I’m struggling to have any expectations for this contest. I mean, take a look at the year OU’s had.
The Sooners unexpectedly started their year at home against Tulane. OU went up big before trying its best not to blow its season opener.
Then there were the close calls against Nebraska and West Virginia, which gave us D.J. Graham’s incredible interceptionagainst the Huskers and some OU fans booing then-starting quarterback Spencer Rattler during the West Virginia game.
OU started to look more like a contender against Kansas State, a win that aged well over the course of the season and included a controversial onside kickthat perhaps foreshadowed the Sooners’ bowl opponent.
The Caleb Williams era started with victories over TCU, Kansas and Texas Tech.
But everything soon unraveled.
OU fell to Baylor in an uninspired effort in Waco, Texas. The Sooners then managed to beat one of the best Iowa State teamsin school history. And then Bedlam.
It feels like decades have passed since the Sooners’ narrow defeat to the Cowboys, who came up short themselves a week later in the Big 12 title game.
An offseason that saw Trejan Bridges, Seth McGowan and Mikey Henderson arrested and dismissed from the team, the Sooners and Longhorns bolt for the Southeastern Conference and running back Tre Bradford transfer to OU and back to LSU should have been enough warning to prepare OU fans for a chaotic year.
Perhaps 2021 still has one last surprise for the Sooners … as if Bob Stoops acting as OU’s interim head coach hasn’t been enough of a wild, nostalgia ride.
Nothing should honestly surprise OU fans at this point. They have been through it all.
A win tonight might be therapeutic. But a loss will be happily accepted to officially end OU’s 2021 campaign.
Also, who decided 8:15 p.m. CT on a Wednesday was a good time for a bowl game?
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OK, bonus third thing: Drake Stoops goes off for 200+ receiving yards
Somewhere my beautiful wife Alyssa is saying, “He should’ve knocked it down.”
Who could forget the double kick?
Sure, the Cyclones underachieved, but that statement is still true.