Tag Archives: Sooners

Get Out of Urban Meyer, Ohio State’s Way

The Ohio State Buckeyes showed the entire country that talent outweighs experience. Prior to the Oklahoma game, it was difficult to envision how Ohio State would perform in their first challenge of the season, with so many young players. For the majority of the starters, it was their first true road game. The Palace on the Prairie in Norman, Oklahoma is not the ideal setting to get your feet wet in a road environment. It is regarded as one of the top-five toughest places to play in college football.

The Buckeyes turned it into their own backyard for one reason. They simply have more talent than Oklahoma, specifically on a defense that isn’t so “basic” after all. Of course, I should also mention that Ohio State has wide receiver Noah Brown, who hauled in four touchdown passes from quarterback J.T. Barrett, and Oklahoma does not.

Talk about making a national statement in primetime. The Buckeyes are arguably the best team in the country, following a win of this magnitude, in such impressive fashion. Ohio State moved up one spot to No. 2 in the latest AP Top 25 rankings and shouldn’t take a backseat to teams like Alabama or Louisville.

With the victory over the Sooners, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer improved to 19-0 in true road games with the Buckeyes. There are two things that are just not supposed to happen in college football. You don’t win every away game you play and you don’t travel to Oklahoma and punk them in their own yard. Well, Ohio State and coach Meyer have managed to complete both tasks.

Getting back to Brown, was his third touchdown reception in the back corner of the endzone just before halftime not one of the best catches you’ve ever seen at any level of football? The man blindly pinned the football with one hand on the defenders back while managing to get not one, but two feet in-bounds. Brown earned a well-deserved Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week award with his four touchdown receptions and should receive ESPY consideration for possibly making the catch of the year.

Through three games, the Silver Bullets tied a school record with their fourth interception returned for a touchdown in a season, courtesy of linebacker Jerome Baker’s first quarter pick-six. Not bad for a basic defense.

What does the Oklahoma victory mean going forward? It means Meyer and the Buckeyes are steamrolling like a downhill train into the Big Ten schedule and will be huge favorites for the remainder of the regular season, and potentially beyond. Ohio State enters the bye week feeling great about its playoff chances, but we all know they have accomplished nothing should they slip up when conference play begins.

Prior to their annual showdown with Michigan, the Buckeyes aren’t in the clear just yet. There are still some potential roadblocks with road games at Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan State. However, with Meyer 19-0 on the road and the Buckeyes’ pummeling of the Sooners in Norman, should we be scared? While these games will still require a pinpoint focus to come out victorious, the Buckeyes now possess the confidence and dare I say, the experience, to play with a “been there and done that” mentality.

Not only was the Oklahoma game a coming-out party for Brown and all of the young Buckeye players, it was a reminder that a rebuild or an adjustment period is just not the Ohio State way, especially under Meyer.

Without question, the fact that Ohio State is playing with 16 new starters has provided significant motivation for the Buckeyes through the first three games of the season. Just like in 2014, when Ohio State captured a national championship a year ahead of schedule, this group proved on Saturday night that it has a legitimate chance to accomplish the same feat.

The current state of Ohio State football is a machine that you don’t want to cross paths with. It’s a pretty basic observation for anyone who watched the Buckeyes’ domination of the Sooners. Just ask Oklahoma’s backup quarterback.

 

E-mail Mark at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @msilverman25.

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Does Ohio State Have Enough to Take Down Oklahoma?

Following blowout victories over Bowling Green and Tulsa, it’s no shock that the Ohio State football team is 2-0 heading into a pivotal showdown with one-loss Oklahoma on Saturday. Are the first two performances enough to go on the road and take down a Sooners team seeking redemption for a season-opening loss to Houston? A loss to the Buckeyes would certainly remove Oklahoma from the playoff conversation.

Offensively, the first half performance against Tulsa is not going to be the recipe for success in Norman. In fact, it won’t be anywhere close. Thanks to a couple of interceptions returned for touchdowns by Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore, the Buckeyes looked impressive on the scoreboard, but it was the offense that was limited to six points prior to halftime.

However, the lackluster performance in the first half doesn’t concern me one bit. Not that Ohio State was looking ahead, but it’s fairly common to play flat against an inferior opponent with such a significant game upcoming, especially for a young team. Although the two teams reside in the same state, the focus for a team like Tulsa was not be anywhere near the level it will be for Oklahoma. The majority of these new-look Buckeyes will receive their first taste of big-game experience, so don’t think Ohio State won’t be amped and ready to make a statement right out of the tunnel.

When I made my game-by-game predictions for Ohio State back in the spring, I didn’t see Oklahoma as a team the Buckeyes were capable of defeating this early in the season, especially on the road with a lack of experience in a setting like Norman. Unsurprisingly, I think I was wrong. The home field and “backs against the wall” mentality will certainly represent a huge advantage for Oklahoma, but the Buckeyes simply have more talent, particularly on defense.

That’s not a knock on Oklahoma as it is still one of the top teams in the nation despite the loss to Houston. There isn’t a team on Houston’s schedule that is going to knock them off. And who knows, maybe Oklahoma comes out of the gate and lays an old-fashioned whooping on Ohio State en route to a 52-10 pummeling of the Buckeyes. However, the defensive side of the ball is what separates Ohio State from Oklahoma.

Even against lesser competition, I don’t think many expected the Buckeye defense to yield zero touchdowns through the first two games of the season. Granted it was in mop-up time with the game already out of hand and mainly reserves on the field, but the Oklahoma defense allowed multiple touchdowns to the University of Louisiana-Monroe. I realize that has no meaning concerning this matchup, but it’s hard to ignore the fact that Oklahoma’s defense is anything but shutdown.

The Sooners possess plenty of playmakers on offense that will put points on the board against any defense, including quarterback Baker Mayfield and running back Samaje Perine, but defense wins championships right? Well, it also wins big games on the road, under the lights.

Oklahoma has more than a fair chance to squeak out a top-five victory to keep their playoff hopes alive. As a result, there shall be no couch-burning along High Street or thought that a playoff appearance is out of the question with a loss. I have previously stated that this is as close to a win-win situation as you can get for Ohio State, especially for the magnitude of this game.

Obviously, a win means the Buckeyes remain undefeated and enjoy a week off before beginning conference play. Even with a loss on Saturday night, if you were to tell me that Ohio State runs the table in the Big Ten and ultimately wins the Big Ten Championship with the only blemish on their resume being a loss at Oklahoma, I would say the Buckeyes are still going to be included in the playoff.

Regardless of how the Ohio State-Oklahoma game plays out, the Buckeyes will take to the bye week with their playoff aspirations still intact.

E-mail Mark at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @msilverman25

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Oklahoma Basketball : PF TaShawn Thomas is Key For The Sooners

Getting to see the Sooners in person for the first time this season the past week against Tulsa, the first thing I noticed is Houston transfer TayShawn Thomas in an Oklahoma uniform. He’s listed as 6″8, 242 pounds, but appears to be approximately 7″3, 270 pounds standing next to point guard Jason Woodard for the Sooners. The man among boys is bigger than any player that has come through Oklahoma in recent history. In fact, no player has matched the size of Thomas on Oklahoma’s roster since 2011, when Sooners forward Barry Honoré played for Oklahoma in limited minutes. So it’s certainly been a while since Oklahoma has had this type of size to rely on in the season. Which is much needed entering Big 12 play next month.

His size matches his talent, as he is averaging 10.3 points per game and 1.8 blocks per game. He’s averaging 5.4 rpg at the moment, a number that should only go up as the season goes on. The scary part is, those are all career lows. The power forward should only get better as the season goes on and he improves his chemistry with the team. And after last Saturday, we already know he is capable of more.

Against Tulsa, Thomas recorded 25 points in his breakout performance. He dominated the paint on both ends of the court the entire second half. With Oklahoma having struggles in the second half the past three years, a big man with good awareness can go a long way in the competitive Big 12. Which begins January 3rd against the Baylor Bears, who knocked off the Sooners in the Big 12 Conference Tournament last March. Other early conference games include at Texas and vs Kansas State. The first three games will be very important for the Sooners who are looking to win their first Big 12 title since 2005. To do so, they must go by Texas and the Kansas schools to take home the title. And to do that, TaShawn Thomas will have to be playing at a very high level like he was on Saturday. A dominant big man is essential to win the Big 12, and Texas and Kansas have them. But does Oklahoma?

Oklahoma’s best big men, TaShawn Thomas and Ryan Spangler, are both transfers who have made a positive impact on the season so far. Spangler transferred two years ago, and Thomas gained eligibility a day before the season started because he had already graduated. With that duo, the Sooners are poised for a run at the Big 12. Spangler isn’t a fierce player, but gets plenty of rebounds and is an efficient shooter. Thomas has proven to be a threat to score, and gets better and better each time he steps on the court. The senior’s impact should be huge going into January with a tough slate ahead. But why is Thomas the key to winning?

Well, on a night when Buddy Hield went 4/17, the Sooners managed to score 88 points. Largly due to Thomas’ presence in the paint on offense. Generally, the past couple of years have proven that if OU’s top scorer doesn’t perform well, neither does the team. That hasn’t been the case this season at all, which shows a huge improvement from the year before on a team that earned a five-seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Thomas provides an explosive mentality where he wants the ball and wants to score. The last Oklahoma big man to do that was Blake Griffin in 2008-09. Before that it was Kevin Bookout in 2006. Both teams earned at least six seeds in the tournament. When Oklahoma has a potent big man to go with the guards, they are a team to watch.

With an X-Factor like Thomas, the Sooners are a top 15 team right now and should do nothing but improve as they improve their chemistry.

Red River Rivalry on tap for 'Horns

Texas and Oklahoma fans circle this week on the calendar as soon as the football schedule comes out every year. It’s Red River Rivalry week.
Looking simply at records, one would be quick to give the advantage to the Sooners. Oklahoma is No. 11 in the polls and brings a 4-1 record into Saturday’s contest at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, while Texas sits at 2-3 after a 28-7 loss at home to Baylor.
Both teams, in fact, come into the matchup reeling as the Sooners dropped a 37-33 contest on the road against TCU. Oklahoma wasn’t alone in feeling the sting of the upset bug, as 11 teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll fell this past weekend.
Rivalry games rarely follow the script. Emotions are so high on both sidelines and the buildup to the game is so intense, that prejudging the outcome based solely on records is folly. The Red River Rivalry was the site of one of these contests a year ago, as the Longhorns upset the Sooners 36-20 despite Oklahoma entering the weekend at No. 12 in the nation.
Few ‘Horns fans can forget the image of quarterback Case McCoy wearing the Golden Hat – the prize to the victors in the game – atop his head after leading Texas to the win that few expected.
As is the case this year with Tyrone Swoopes, McCoy was thrust into the limelight against the Sooners due to starting quarterback David Ash missing the game after suffering a concussion.
The same fate has struck Texas again in 2014, with Ash suffering a concussion in the opener against North Texas. The junior signal-caller has not seen the field since the opening week and announced his retirement from the sport prior to the Kansas game.
The Longhorns lead the overall series 60-43-5, though part of me has to feel like the players involved in those five ties wanted to continue to play until a winner was decided. How do you have bragging rights for a year if neither team wins? But I digress.
Texas’ win last season broke a three-game losing streak in the series and Oklahoma has owned the series since 1999 under Bob Stoops, posting a 9-6 record against the ‘Horns.
Under Stoops, the Sooners have topped 50 points four times against the Texas defense, including a series-high 65 points in 2003. The Longhorns’ high-water mark for points against Stoops came in 2005 and 2008, when Texas rolled up 45 points in each contest.
The 2005 Texas squad, led by quarterback Vince Young, went on to win the national championship against USC in the Rose Bowl. Ironically, the 2008 team was kept from a BCS bowl bid in a tight race against Oklahoma and Texas Tech, with all three teams finishing 11-1.
The ‘Horns only loss that season came on a last-second touchdown in Lubbock, or Texas could very well have played for the national title then, as well.
The rivalry has had the eyes of the nation upon it of late, as seven of the last eight meetings have come when both teams were ranked. Last year’s Texas team and the 2014 edition have been unranked.
The last time Oklahoma entered the Cotton Bowl unranked was 2005, when Texas was No. 2. Four times since 1999 the Red River Rivalry featured a matchup of top 5 squads, but no matter the rankings, the game is typically memorable – at least for the winning side.
Though a lot of emphasis will be placed on the outcome of this weekend’s game, as it should be, the ‘Horns are not out of the fire even after the Oklahoma game.
Four of Texas’ last seven games are against teams ranked in the top 20, with TCU at No. 9 to end the regular season on Thanksgiving night.
But such is the life of a team working to get back on top in the Big 12.

Knight in Sliding Armor

Trevor Knight, the teams returning leader in rushing yards, was injured last year in week 2 of the regular season in a win against West Virginia. He took some pretty big hits all through 2013, and was injured a couple of times. This was due to the aggressive nature of Knights running. If he saw open space, he would make the best of it and go for as long as he could. Nothing wrong with that, but there was a problem with the way he went down and was constantly taking hits. In last years Sugar Bowl, it looked like Knight learned the key to staying healthy. Sliding. Before Trevor Knight, Oklahoma went 6 years without a running quarterback. Sam Bradford and Landry Jones were pocket passers who only scrambled when needed to (Jones never did).
So it was nice last year to see Knight electrify Gaylord Memorial-Stadium with a huge runs throughout the season. But this offseason the Sooners starting QB learned to not be so aggressive, and take the yards given before making contact.
Which is why this past Saturday in the first quarter of their game against Louisiana Tech, when Knight was facing 2nd & 7 in Tech territory, Knight tucked the ball and rolled out to scramble. He got the first down and perhaps got of got even more, but he did the right thing and slide down to protect himself before the Tech defender could get there. It showed Knight’s maturity and how he’s progressed as a leader since last season. The Sooners then went down and scored to go up 7-0. The first of many drives that Knight lead the team down the field.

Knight, 9, will look to build off his week one performance against Tulsa this Saturday.

This is something he’ll have to do the whole season if Oklahoma is to go undefeated and win the Big 12. The Sooners can’t afford to lose Knight this season. The Sophomore is considered a veteran on this young offense, his leadership will be key for Oklahoma come conference play. In other words, he needs to stay injury free this season. Right now, it looks like he’s on the right path.
The path to the college football playoff that is.
Knight threw for 253 yards and lead OU down the field their first four possessions to put the game away early. He also tossed a beautiful 16 yard pass to Sterling Shepard for a touchdown.
The Sooners play Tulsa next week at 12 p.m. ET. Tulsa won their opener 38-31 in 2OT against Tulane. Tulsa only won three games last season, but they should be bowl eligible this season if their quarterbacks keep up their level of play.
 

Sooners Best and Worst Case Scenarios In 2014

In a little less than two weeks , college football  will have officially taken over our life’s as we know it. That means no more preseason polls, hype or fussing about who’s conference is better than who’s (Pac 12 may be the winner this year). That also means no more dreaming about undefeated seasons, because odds are it’s not happening. But before the preseason is over, lets look at the best and worst case scenarios for the team I write about, the Oklahoma Sooners.
The best case scenario is usually the only one fans think of. You’re either thinking about that one game against your rival where you’re certain your team is going to win or you might be looking ahead to this year being the year where it all comes together and you win it all. Perhaps you are a little more like me and your’e worrying about trap games; i’m looking at you West Virginia and Iowa State. Either way you are absolutely pumped.
Here i’m assuming that the Sooner’s current roster is the way it’s going to be on game day. No Frank Shannon, Baker Mayfield, or Dorial Green-Beckham.

Best Case Scenario – The preseason #3 gets a jump start against Louisiana Tech while Trevor Knight throws 3 touchdowns and rushes for another. Sooners win 55-7. The next week at Tulsa the defense takes over and so does the rushing game, the Sooners win this one 34-3. In a SEC showdown against (2-0) Tennessee, Big Game Bob delivers at home on the offensive side of the ball and win in dominating fashion, 49-14. After the bye week the Sooners start conference play at Morgantown where last time they narrowly escaped by one point. This time around, West Virginia doesn’t score a point and Oklahoma moves on to 4-0, winning 28-0. The Sooners start to get some first place votes, but stay at #3.
Oklahoma travels to play undefeated #17 TCU in the next week, and the Horned Frogs battle the Sooners until a last second field goal propels them to victory, 27-24. In the Red River Rivalry the following weekend, Oklahoma gets their revenge on #23 Texas and force 3 turnovers to win it, 38-17. Halfway through a perfect season, the Sooners continue their streak of always winning the game after Texas and beat #13 Kansas State in an offensive showdown, 42-38. Alabama loses, and the Sooners are #2 in every single poll. Trevor Knight gets more and more Heisman talk, right behind Jameis Winston and Leonard Fournette. After a nice week off, the Sooners play Iowa State in a cold Saturday night in Ames, Iowa. The Sooners barely beat the Cyclones, in a sloppy 20-14 performance. Oklahoma is now 8-0 looking on to play #9 Baylor in a battle for the Big 12 crown. Baylor keeps it competitive, but the Sooners close it out with a late pick six and win the game 41-33. They are now almost locked for the Big 12 crown heading into Lubbock. The Sooners are still riding their win against Baylor, but fall short against Texas Tech. Knight throws two interception and Keith Ford fumbles the football late in the fourth as Oklahoma drops to 9-1 and #6 in the polls.
The Sooners take out their anger on the Jayhawks and win that game by four touchdowns. In the bye wee after, Florida State loses to Florida and Penn State beats Michigan State while Alabama beats Auburn to get the Sooners to #4 in the country. In conference championship week, Oklahoma hosts OSU and sends them to 7-5 on the year, running their way to a 31-21 victory. That sends Oklahoma to the innagural College Football Playoff as the number three seed set up to play Oregon.

 
The Ducks start off strong with a 10-0 lead early, but the Sooners defense takes over after that and they tie it up at halftime. Knight proves clutch again in big games and the offense goes on a 24-7 run to end the game, 24-17. That sets up a National Championship game against Florida State. The Sooners score first and never look back, as Jameis Winston throws multiple interceptions in the second half . Big game Bob and the Oklahoma Sooners capture their 8th national championship while Knight gets player of the game after throwing for 3 touchdowns and leading the offense to a surprising blowout, 35-16.
13-1 record, Big 12 Champions, College Football Playoff Champions
 
Now for the less promising season that puts me in tears.
Worst Case Scenario – Oklahoma and Trevor Knight starts off shaky against Lousiana Tech, winning narrowly in the opener 24-20. The next week Oklahoma looks a little more comfortable the week after, and gets the job done against Tulsa, 35-13. Against Tennessee, the defense plays the best it has all year in a 31-7 beatdown in Norman. That sets up conference play where the West Virginia Mountaineer defense makes it a nightmare in Morgantown, the Sooners drop the conference opener 20-17, and fall to #10 in the polls. The next week isn’t so pretty either, but the Sooners beat TCU 28-20.
Against Texas the Sooners play the best they have all season, as Bob Stoops hasn’t lost a revenge game since 2009. The defense plays solid and OU wins 31-10. The Sooners rise to #8 in the polls and sit at 5-1. They play sloppy against Kansas State, but pull out the late field goal to go up 30-28 in the final seconds. They get a nice week off and are #7 in the country before heading to Iowa State. The Cyclones give the Sooners trouble on offense, and pull out the upset late 31-27. The loss sets Oklahoma back to #14 and a 6-2 record. The Sooners then host undefeated #4 Baylor in Norman, but in a high scoring overtime game Trevor Knight leads the offense in a 45-41 OT victory and keeps up their hopes for a Big 12 title. They climb back to #9, but not before they face Texas Tech on the road. Oklahoma loses a shootout, 38-34. They drop to 4-3 in conference play and #17 in the polls. They beat Kansas 24-3 heading into their final regular season game against Oklahoma State. The Sooners once again play a great against a rival and win this one 42-17.

At 9-3 and #14 in the country the Sooners get a bowl invite to the Valero Alamo Bowl against USC, where the Sooners get some revenge from the distant 2004 BCS National Championship against the Trojans, and win a sluggish battle 23-17.
10-3 record, Alamo Bowl Champions
Let me tell you, I was a lot happier writing the first part than I was the second as it took me back to the Landry Jones era of mediocrity.
 
12 days until gameday.

Oklahoma RB Joe Mixon Being Investigated For Assault

It was almost a perfect offseason leading up to the 2014 Oklahoma football season. Then the news of Joe Mixon, the Sooner’s youngest and most talented weapon, being investigated for assaulting a woman and fracturing bones in her face. This happened late at night while celebrating Mixon’s 18th birthday. Not good news for the freshman running back or the Sooners. This shouldn’t be handled lightly, as it seems as serious to report that the police will arrest Mixon as soon as they find him. But we aren’t quite sure yet what happened, as some reports say Mixon was just in the group and didn’t assault her. Some reports say the eye witnesses said he did it, until there’s an official report we aren’t sure what happened.
But it’s more than likely not going to end well for Mixon.
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If Mixon is arrested for assault then I’m not sure he’ll ever play in a Sooner uniform. The most lenient I could see the Sooners being in this situation is suspending him for a year. He would have one whole year to think about his actions, which might be very good for him. One clean year would help the coaches know he’s serious about football, and the NFL scouts that might be watching from afar. If he serves jail time, then I’m not even sure he’ll play college football again. We won’t know until the full details are reported.
If Mixon was at the scene and wasn’t the one who assaulted the woman, then I’m not sure what would happen. All signs point to Mixon being the assaulter, but at 2:30 a.m. on Mixon’s 18th birthday I’m not sure anyone’s mind was clear. But no matter the circumstances, punching a woman should never be the answer. Which is why Bob Stoops punishment has to be enough for him to learn that.
You’re a college athlete for one of the premier teams in all of your sport. You have a chance to be the starter on possibly a national championship team as a freshmen and follow the footsteps of Adrian Peterson. You have to be smart enough to know just when to walk away from the situation. Something Mixon should have done when the woman was provoking (or not provoking, we can’t be sure yet) him on his birthday. I guess whatever the punishment, jail time or a suspension, Mixon will be sure not to do anything like this again.
The five star running back was from Freedom High School in California, and was competing with sophomore Keith Ford for the starting spot. The Sooners are a top 10 preseason team with almost all preseason magazines ranking them anywhere from first to sixth.