I went to Bedlam tonight. I don’t go to many games these days. It’s just too easy to cover from home especially because home is in Dallas, Texas. Television and social media make my job unique from the other people in this line of work.
But I decided to layer up and get after it with some old friends. The kind of friends you attend Big 12 title games with. The kind of friends you can have a blast with even as OU lights your field on fire and dances with the trophy afterwards.
So we leave the stadium with about four minutes left in the game.[1. Don’t even want to hear it.] We’re walking out, saying things to ourselves like, “so is Baker Mayfield just going to steal Barry’s statue on the way out or are they going to actually fly him to New York for the ceremony?”
We’re walking on the northeast side of the stadium back towards the south side of campus. Around GIA. All of a sudden, a white Escalade comes blazing at us like it was shot out of OU’s backfield. We had to hustle out of the way. It didn’t slow down. It was actually a bit uncomfortable.
I looked up and over at one of the guys. At the same time, we both said, “that was Holder!”
Yep, Mike Holder nearly ran us over in his Escalade with four minutes left in Bedlam 2015. And that was pretty easily the best part of the night.
On to my 10 thoughts.
1. I love J.W. but …
I thought Mason Rudolph would start. I wrote earlier this week that he’d give it a go despite a broken bone in his foot. I thought he would start and exit stage right and let The General make his grand entrance to steal the W. It didn’t really go like I thought it would.
With Rudolph playing, you can stretch OU’s secondary out a little bit and let the offense start to flow. Heck, you sort of did it with Walsh underthrowing dudes by 10 yards. Walsh tossed for 325 and two TDs and it was sort of *gasp* easy at times.
I don’t mean to discount Walsh’s performance. He was really good at times, pretty average at others. And you know he left the whole dang thing on that expensive field turf OSU has. But in a game in which OU’s secondary was letting you pick it apart, it seems as if the best passing QB OSU has had since Brandon Weeden would have been useful.
I’m also not saying OSU wins with Rudolph at QB. I don’t think that’s the case. But Mike & Mike were clearly intent on spreading it out (we went five wide more on Saturday night than we had all year combined!) and Rudolph would have picked that thing apart like he was the surgeon general.
The odder part, unless you consider OSU’s health situation at QB, was that Walsh didn’t even really run it all that much, at least in the first half. He was basically Rudolph out there with a worse arm. That’s fine. He’s a gamer etc. But you can’t win a Big 12 title with No. 4 captaining the ship the entire time when he hasn’t done it all year. Especially when you face a team like OU with NBA Jam flames coming out of the exhaust pipes on its buses.
2. Big plays crushed
My buddy Quade and I had a lengthy discussion in the first half about whether it’s more encouraging for a defense to get hit with numerous big plays (“outliers,” I called them, except that they’re not outliers when they keep happening) or get rolled on for long drive after long drive. So that was nice.
OU dropped a batch of big ones on the Pokes early and often on Saturday evening before sealing the deal with some sustained “we’re the champs this year, fellas” drives late. I’m still not sure what’s more back-breaking as a D, but OU’s combination on Saturday was lethal to a suddenly reeling OSU defense.
3. Baker can bake, but OU’s backfield is terrifying
Baker might cook with the stiff-armed bronze man in a few weeks (heaven help us), but OU goes because Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon make up the best backfield in the country.
I mean, when Perine got Ramond Richards one on one in the open field, ABC might as well have slapped a TV-MA sticker on it and shipped it on over to Showtime for the remainder of the evening.
4. We really did run out of gas
Gundy said it afterwards, but OSU had nothing left in the tank at the end of the season.
Gundy: "We looked like tonight that we ran out of gas. I don't want to take away from what they accomplished."
— MikeSherman (@MikeSherman) November 29, 2015
That’s not an excuse. It’s a reality. I was talking to my dad about this after the game. Baylor and OU just have more horses. They have more four and five star guys. They have more and bigger athletes. You can scheme your way to 10 wins (like OSU did), but to ask that squad to get to a 12-0 finish line. It’s too much. I’m sorry if that offends you. This is who we are right now.
5. Stats deceive
Can you guess the score of the game based on these numbers? We had one fewer first down? 70 fewer yards?? I didn’t keep up with the box score much throughout so I was a bit startled when I pulled it up afterwards. This is what happens when you almost take a kick to the house and throw a pick six and and another pick that gets returned to your own 29-yard-line.
We actually banged with them offensively a little bit. But you can’t beat the big boys by turning it over like OSU did and kicking field goals inside the 30 like you’re a Big 10 team.
6. These last two games have been … boring
The last two games have been really strange. Usually when OSU loses, there are a million things to write about, a lot of them even positive. Tonight and last week, I’ve had no clue what to find in terms of positivity in the actual 60 minutes of play. There have been so few things that happened during the game to enjoy or point to and say, “see, we did that right!”
The narrative, therefore, turns to the big picture which for OSU is still sunny. But the gameplay itself over the last 120 minutes outside of Big Game James making a couple of catches and QB1 and QB2 making a couple of throws? Woof.
7. You run the ball, you control the game
This pretty much sums it up.
Sir, you just got knocked over by the quarterback pic.twitter.com/c6yAIYzbhp
— Deadspin (@Deadspin) November 29, 2015
I’m not trying to bag on our defensive line, but Baylor and OU just rushed for six hundy plus combined in back to back weeks while OSU could only muster 140. You aren’t going to control a game against Union or Jenks with numbers like that, much less Baylor and OU.
8. They lost to Texas! Texas!
There’s going to be a 30 for 30 on this in 20 years with Baker Mayfield and the beer belly he’s trying to keep under control shaking his head at even the idea that his national championship squad of 2015 got destroyed (destroyed!) by a 4-8 Texas team. It’s going to be even less believable then than it is now.
9. Was OSU a fraud?
It doesn’t matter. My buddy Quade said this well tonight. We were all discussing how going 10-2 in 2010 sure felt different than going 10-2 this year. About how this team could have been 7-5 or 8-4. He said, “look, you can’t be the committee. You don’t get to re-write history. OSU won 10 games. That’s it. That’s the end of the discussion.”
And that’s exactly right. This team was good, as I’ve written all year, because it has a thing foreign to most teams. It has a correct concept of itself and its place in the college football world. It didn’t panic and it didn’t lose until late November. Was Oklahoma State a fraud because it couldn’t beat Baylor and OU? The answer doesn’t matter because 10-2 is 10-2.
10. This wasn’t a disappointing season
The youngest team in the country last season returned in 2015 and just played a post-Thanksgiving game for the conference trophy. Tell me more about how much this disappoints you and how many people you think should be fired.
I don’t miss the days when 10-2 would have been a reason to dance in the streets, but it’s wild how much the rhythm of a season will affect our perception. Think back to last season. OSU gets torched for 11 straight games and squeaks out a Bedlam win and we’re all euphoric. Then this year. OSU wins 10 straight and gets thumped by two mighty Big 12 teams. Two of the best squads in the nation. And we’re all pissed off like this was expected all along.
I’m not saying you should be happy about OU being very clearly that much better than we are. I’m saying 10-2 with a sophomore QB and 18 of 22 starters returning is a hell of a reason to appreciate Mike Gundy and Co.
On to the bowl game.