Stoops and Oklahoma turn attention to Kansas
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops wanted to focus on the Sooners’ next game at Kansas. Still, there questions being asked about what happened against Texas.
The Longhorns throttled Oklahoma 36-20 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas and left the Sooners - who had won three straight in the series and were a two-touchdown favorite - trying to figure out what happened and where they go from here.
To a man they gave Texas credit for making plays and playing more physical football. Senior safety Gabe Lynn insisted No. 18 Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) wasn’t overconfident.
“I don’t call it a surprise because I think every team in this conference can beat us if we’re not playing to the best of our ability,” Lynn said. “We didn’t come out as hard as they did. They came out a little tougher than us and hit us in the mouth. It’s just kind of an eye opener. You hate for it to happen but we have to be prepared each week.”
Stoops said Texas made four big plays that essentially won the game for the Longhorns - touchdown passes of 59 yards and 38 yards by Case McCoy to Marcus Johnson and Mike Davis, respectively, an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown by Daje Johnson and a 31-yard interception return by Chris Whaley.
“When you make plays like that, or give up plays like that in these kinds of games it’s incredibly difficult to overcome,” Stoops said. “Obviously we weren’t able to do it. We didn’t have as many big plays as well to answer back. To their credit they limited those. ”
Oklahoma was inconsistent on offense, Stoops said, able to run the ball with some success but being forced - because of game circumstances - to throw the ball more. Blake Bell struggled, completing 12-of-26 passes for 133 yards and throwing his first two interceptions of the season. Texas sacked Bell four times.
The Sooners had to defend 60 running plays by Texas, allowing the Longhorns to control the clock, and the long punt return by Johnson essentially offset a long kickoff return by Oklahoma’s Roy Finch, which set up a touchdown.
“They made the plays,” Stoops said. “We didn’t. So you go on to the next game.”
Fortunately for the Sooners, the next game is this Saturday against Kansas (2-3, 0-2), a team they’ve enjoyed much success against through the years. Oklahoma leads the series 70-27-6 and has won eight straight games against the Jayhawks. Kansas has lost 23 straight conference games, dating back to a win over Colorado on Nov. 6, 2010.
The Sooners no longer control their own destiny in the Big 12 race, but twice - in 2006 and 2008 - Oklahoma has lost to Texas but still won a conference title. In the latter year, the Sooners even qualified for the national championship game.
The Sooners still have games against two of the three teams that remain unbeaten in conference play, hosting No. 16 Texas Tech on Oct. 26 and visiting No. 12 Baylor on Nov. 7. Oklahoma’s remaining schedule also includes the Bedlam showdown with No. 21 Oklahoma State on Dec. 7.
“The Big 12 is a great conference and the best part about it is you never know every year,” defensive end Geneo Grissom said. “We definitely feel like we’re still in the running.”
That said, Stoops wasn’t in the mood to talk about such things Monday.
“I’ve talked to our guys about playing this week against Kansas,” Stoops said. “Everybody wants to project to the end of the year. We’ve been doing it for the last couple of weeks and you can’t do it. All we can do is prepare to be as good as we can be for Kansas and that’s it.”
The Sooners will face Kansas without starting nose tackle Jordan Phillips. Stoops said the 6-foot-6, 324-pound redshirt sophomore will undergo season-ending surgery Tuesday for what the coach called a “chronic back issue.”
Phillips didn’t play against TCU on Oct. 5 or on Saturday against Texas due to his back condition. He started the first four games and had been a pleasant surprise for the Sooners, recording seven tackles, including two for loss, and one sack. Redshirt freshman Jordan Wade started against TCU and Texas in Phillips’ absence.
Senior linebacker Corey Nelson, who tore a pectoral muscle in the win over Texas Christian, also will undergo season-ending surgery on Tuesday, Stoops said. Nelson had delayed the surgery so that he could travel with the team to Dallas for the Red River Rivalry game.