CINCINNATI -- Oklahoma went on the road for the first time this season and won. That's the good news from Saturday night, and for Oklahoma fans I understand that it's really good news. Last season the Sooners went on the road four times and lost three of them. Including neutral sites, Oklahoma played seven games away from Norman in 2009 and lost five of them.
That's bad -- so this was good. Oklahoma went to Cincinnati and beat the Bearcats 31-29. The Sooners are 4-0 overall, 1-0 away from home, and likely to rise at least one spot in the next Top 25. They're No. 8 at the moment, but No. 7 Texas lost to UCLA on Saturday. With their annual showdown set for Saturday in Dallas, Oklahoma is up. Texas is down. More good news for Oklahoma.
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That said, let's get to the bad news for the Sooners.
Which is pretty much everything else that happened Saturday night.
Cincinnati is not good -- Cincinnati is, in fact, pretty damn lousy -- and Oklahoma won by the slimmest of margins. If Oklahoma were Oklahoma State, where the coach is a man and a win is a win, then beating bad Cincinnati by the slimmest of margins would be celebrated.
But Oklahoma strives for more than the Holiday Bowl, so this wasn't a celebration. This was scary, and I'll tell you why.
Because Oklahoma is a stupid football team.
Oklahoma is fast, but Oklahoma is stupid. Oklahoma is skilled, but Oklahoma is stupid. Strong? Yes. Oklahoma is strong.
|All of the penalties must have taken a toll on Bob Stoops on Saturday. (US Presswire)|
In all, Oklahoma was penalized 13 times for 113 yards, and these were dumb fouls. A late hit here. A dead-ball foul there. Intentional grounding? Roughing the passer? A pass interference to nullify an interception?
Yes. There was a surplus of stupid.
More than dumb, Oklahoma was ineffective on defense. That's how the Sooners had a 4-1 edge in turnovers and compiled 452 yards of total offense, including 370 passing yards from Landry Jones, and still had to hang on to win.
The Sooners don't tackle well, which is why they can't stop the run. Air Force ran for 351 yards on the Sooners last week. Cincinnati ran for 156 yards Saturday, a number skewed downward by several sacks. Cincinnati tailback Isaiah Pead ran for 169 yards, and he needed just 21 carries to do it, and he would have run for more than 200 yards had a 76-yard carry in the third quarter not been reviewed and changed -- unfairly, I'd say -- to a 13-yard gain when officials determined that his elbow had hit the ground. I saw the same replays the officials saw, and that elbow might have hit the ground. Probably it hit the ground. Inconclusively it hit the ground? No way. But the call was made, and instead of first-and-goal at the 4, Cincinnati was back at its 33. Instead of a likely touchdown, the Bearcats scrambled for a field goal that possession.
That's a four-point swing. Cincinnati lost by two points. See the math?
Cincinnati also missed an early extra point, a lost point that meant the Bearcats couldn't try to force overtime by going for two after scoring their final touchdown with 58 seconds to play. They kicked the extra point to get within 31-29, tried an onsides kick, waited out Stoops' double-secret douchebag timeout from the sideline that forced UC to repeat the onsides kick, and finally failed. Oklahoma recovered. Oklahoma won.
So Oklahoma's rolling toward the Big 12 title game, and possibly the BCS title game? Not the Oklahoma that I saw on Saturday night. This Oklahoma team can't stop an obvious running team like Air Force, and it can't stop a deceptive running team like Cincinnati. So who can Oklahoma stop from running? I'll tell you who: Oklahoma can stop Utah State.
The Sooners lucked out on the schedule and won't have to face the best two running teams in the Big 12, Nebraska and Kansas State, but the Sooners will play games -- on the road, no less -- against the league's No. 3 (Texas A&M), No. 4 (Oklahoma State) and No. 5 (Baylor) rushing teams. You think Oklahoma wins all three of those games? I don't.
Not if the Sooners play this stupidly, and tackle this poorly. Oklahoma's best defense at times Saturday was to let Cincinnati receiver D.J. Woods get behind everybody and run for the goal line. Oklahoma is fast, and twice the Sooners ran down Woods from behind -- poking the ball loose on one such play, turning a potential Bearcats touchdown into a game-changing fumble into the end zone for a touchback.
That's how Oklahoma beat Cincinnati on Saturday. With freak athleticism and fluke playmaking. And lots of penalties. Lots of missed tackles. Lots of yards allowed.
If you're an Oklahoma fan and you enjoyed this game, you're missing the bigger picture. Oklahoma doesn't celebrate weak wins against weak football teams. Oklahoma pounds teams like Cincinnati.
When Oklahoma's really good, I mean.
Other seasons. Not this one.