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Proud Heritage

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Marquis On The Mark

Sooner Stars Set To Return

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On Sale At Newsstands Oct. 28!
Road Warrior
Fast start to conference slate positions OU For a legit shot at winning Big 12 title

What a difference a few weeks makes.
Well, sort of.

The vibe around the Oklahoma football program is substantially more positive after three straight conference wins, including shootouts with TCU and Texas and a workmanlike bashing of Kansas State. The Ohio State thumping still lingers, of course, but winning the conference would make that a lot more distant memory.

And as for winning the conference, so far, so good.

Yes, the defense is still a work in progress, although it’s getting better, only giving up 17 points to KSU after 40-point debacles against TCU and Texas. Of course, KSU still runs the plodding Snyder offense, and it is still the most offensively challenged team in the league outside of Kansas.

Make no mistake, there are shootouts to come, perhaps in places like Lubbock and Morgantown, W. Virginia, where the Mountaineers were quietly undefeated through six game, including a beat down of Texas Tech on the road. But, we are out of the beauty contest business this year, so it doesn’t really matter — all we need to do is win on the field to win the conference.

What the playoff committee might think about anything is no longer relevant, unless some really strange things happen over the upcoming weeks.

It was so very nice to walk out of the State Fair of Texas not having just watched UT push us around all over the field. That had happened for three years running before the Sooners finally decided to do their own pushing this time around.

Honestly, if the Sooners had not done a lot to keep Texas in the game with turnovers and mistakes, this one could have been another in a series of historic blowouts.
However, our defensive liabilities being
what they are, it turned into a game that we had to sweat until the very end.

That’s not unusual in Dallas, of course, but this year’s Sooner team is far superior to the dreck that Texas is putting on the field, and it showed.

Charlie Strong is almost surely out of Austin at the end of the season, and if their shenanigans down there have not poisoned the well in terms of getting a top coach, him getting run out of town might be a bad thing for us.

On the other hand, it always seems that OU and Texas both being good at the same time makes it better for everyone in the end. It is certainly more satisfying to beat a good Texas team instead of a sad sack one, although nobody’s ever going to give the Golden Hat back regardless of the quality of the opponent.

As for the previous week’s trip to the Metroplex, it was a back and forth trip between domination and being dominated. In the first and fourth quarters, TCU was the proverbial hot knife and we were the butter. In the second and third quarters, it was the other way around. Fortunately, the 25-point lead we built when things were going well was just enough to hold off TCU’s fourth-quarter comeback.

A win is a win, and on top of that, I got the privilege of paying $50 to park again. On the other hand, it was a really good parking spot in a guy’s yard right across the street from the donor parking right by the stadium.

And then there was the Kansas State game, which for once did not turn into a Snydering, as we have seen so many times before. You have to give it up to Bill Snyder — he has his system, and he sticks to it, come what may. He plays caveman football and has been very successful at it. When he retires again, KSU football is going to fall off of the same cliff it fell off when he retired the first time.

I have to say, for many years, I disliked Snyder intensely. Not personally, just because he had turned the world on its ear and made our perennial doormat into an annual tormentor. I remember being in Manhattan in 1993, when they beat us for the first time since 1970. They would go on to win four more in a row, admittedly over the worst and some of the worst Sooner teams of all time. But it still stung to lose to Kansas State.

Time has allowed me to appreciate and respect the incredible job Snyder has done in Manhattan. It has also allowed me to appreciate that he is a really good guy. But he will still Snyder you at any opportunity. With a healthy dose of an emerging Dede Westbrook, a dash of Joe Mixon, and a dollop of Baker Mayfield, though, the Snydering was avoided for another year.
Halfway through the season, and the only record that matters through six games is 3-0 in conference.

The Sooners were set for a stop in Lubbock, which should be interesting with Mayfield’s first visit back where he will be playing. I’m sure the tortillas will be flying at his head. Then it’s a breather with Kansas coming to town, followed by a Thursday nighter at an interesting Iowa State squad that keeps coming close to some big wins.

I’ll see you in Lubbock. And remember — get in and out of that town as quickly as possible, for your own good.

(This column appears in the new Fall 2016 issue of Sooner Spectator. To read more or subscribe, call 405-364-4515)