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Film Review: OSU 44, Oklahoma 10

12/4/2011
Matthew Emmons/US Presswire

Oklahoma began the season ranked No. 1 in the nation.

The Sooners ended their regular season with a 44-10 thumping at the hands of Oklahoma State at Boone Pickens Stadium on Saturday. In a game that was essentially the Big 12 Championship game, OU didn’t score a touchdown until 2:25 left in the fourth quarter.

A second glance reveals the Sooners were right there, with the game still in doubt, until mental mistakes and carelessness with the ball ended all hopes of a win. Also, the defense played better than they will get credit for, particularly when the game was in doubt.

Here’s a look at key elements of the disappointing loss.

Key plays and sequences

--The first sign the Sooners could be in trouble was Cowboy quarterback Brandon Weeden’s 53-yard pass to Tracy Moore. OU rushed four defenders on the play, thus leaving seven Sooners in coverage. Moore beat linebacker Joseph Ibiloye and a perfect throw from Weeden allowed him to catch the ball on the run. Tony Jefferson saved the touchdown. (Watch the catch and run here.)

It’s tough to ask Ibiloye to cover Moore one-on-one in any scenario although to be fair the coverage on the play was not bad, it was just a physical mismatch. An example of the issues for the Sooners pass coverage. They simply don’t have enough capable bodies to get it done against high-powered attacks that can match OU’s athletes.

--DeJuan Miller dropped three passes in the first half, two on third down which essentially stopped both drives when the game was still very much in doubt. Had to be a disappointing final conference game for the senior.

--The only point it seemed like OU found any offensive rhythm was in the second quarter when quarterback Landry Jones completed four straight passes to move the Sooners from their 22-yard line to OSU’s 19-yard line.

--The biggest play of the game was Jones’ fumble with OU inside the redzone. At the snap, OSU appeared to be bringing seven defenders but actually had just five pass rushers. The Sooners had seven blockers, yet OSU linebacker Alex Elkins was untouched up the middle after OU running back Roy Finch slid to the left, thinking the unblocked defender would be coming from that direction. (Watch the fumble here.)

OSU’s scheme of overloading to one side of the field worked as Elkins was one of two rushers on the right side of the formation yet was untouched when the Sooners slide their pass protection to the left. A mental mistake that sorely cost the Sooners.

--An overlooked aspect of that sequence was the Sooners’ quick three-and-out right after OSU scored a touchdown to capitalize on Jones fumble. Then OSU drove the ball right down the field for another Joseph Randle touchdown to push the lead to 24-0.

To that point the OU defense seemed to have found its rhythm and was consistently stopping OSU’s offense. After Jones' fumble, that defensive rhythm disappeared.

--On Landry Jones’ fumble early in the third quarter, he was trying to make a quick throw to Trey Franks, thus didn’t adjust the ball to get his fingers on the laces. And it slipped out of his grasp. Richetti Jones picks it up. Touchdown. Ballgame. (Watch the fumble here.)

Overriding themes

--While it looks really bad, the Sooners defense didn’t play as poorly as most will think. The defense was not the problem. Offensive mental mistakes and turnovers were. The defense was on the field a lot with little hope the offense was going to get it together. They’re human.

--It seemed OU was surprised with the increased speed and athleticism of OSU’s defense. Jones was pressured and hit quite a bit throughout Bedlam, leading to poor decisions and poor throws.

--There’s no way to overrate how badly OU misses Ryan Broyles. Jones was often caught holding onto the football because he didn’t have open receivers to throw to. And that’s just the obvious impact of the loss.

--The Sooners also miss Ronnell Lewis -- their lack of pressure was surprising -- but OU has other quality, productive defensive ends in Frank Alexander, David King and R.J. Washington. Quite simply, there are very few athletic freaks like Ronnell Lewis in the college football.

--OSU’s defensive game plan makes it clear they weren’t scared of anyone on the Sooners offense making them pay for being too aggressive. The Cowboys weren’t worried about OU’s playmakers at all.

--OU was not ready for OSU’s defensive game plan. Very, very similar to last year’s Bedlam except it was the Sooners not the Cowboys who were caught off guard this season.

Overlooked star

Obviously overlooked because of the lopsided outcome, but Jamell Fleming had a very good game. When he had a chance to make a play, he did. And he didn’t back down one inch when faced with the prospect of covering Justin Blackmon. If every Sooner played like Fleming, it’s a much different game.

Lasting thought

Nothing much to say here. Oklahoma was dominated in a championship game on their opponent’s home field. OU co-offensive coordinator Jay Norvell said after the game the Sooners need to look inside themselves and re-evaluate. He also said they need to hold themselves accountable to play well for their teammates (i.e. don’t let the man next to you down).

Agreed on both counts.