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Oklahoma holds its fate in its own hands
As memorable 2017 season winds down
Sometimes boring football is some of the best football there is.
While the casual fan may not appreciate it, there is something so beautiful about a 9-minute, fourth-quarter drive that ends with the victory formation. Or taking the air out of the ball for an entire half because you’re already blowing someone out.
The latter is what happened in the Sooners’ victory over TCU. When you put up 38 in a half against a team that had only given up 27 total points in the prior four games, and when your defense, bolstered by three new true freshman starters, actually looks like a good defense for the most part, you get these little luxuries.
And so, the Sooners’ second half against TCU was probably the most boring, beautiful half of football all season. A team that had really only put together one complete performance all season against a quality opponent finally put together another, and at just the right time — with the world watching.
Boring football, especially boring fourth quarters, generally mean you’re winning comfortably, and we’ve had far too little of that this season.
It certainly wasn’t that way in Stillwater the week before. When Baker Mayfield threw a pick on the goal line in the final minutes, you couldn’t have found many in that stadium who would have told you the Sooners would win, much less win by double digits. But that’s what happened.
It sure wasn’t boring. But it was so annoying.
Let’s review — of 10 games played at this writing, half were in doubt deep into the fourth quarter. That makes for entertainment, I suppose, but I’d rather be winning comfortably than be entertained.
The entertainment tends to get overwhelmed by annoyance in those situations, at least for me. Granted, all but that one worked out OK, and those games tend to be remembered more fondly later than they are in the moment.
But still — I like boring fourth quarters.
Going forward, the Sooners still needed to win in Lawrence to clinch a spot in the renewed Big 12 Championship Game. Let’s go ahead and write them in for that.
Not in pencil, either. Sharpie will do just fine.
Having played in eight of the 15 prior Big 12 Championship Games, the Sooners will now play in the revived version — in a year when it can pontentially hurt them. Under last year’s system, all it would take is a win over Kansas and a win over West Virginia, and the Sooners would be conference champs and headed to the playoff.
Not so this season.
Because the Big 12 is dumb, pretty much. But we already knew that. They wanted a title game for the ”13th data point,” but when Oklahoma is 11-1 and conference champs, the 13th data point is irrelevant.
See 2015. And it would be the same in 2017.
Instead, this season, we will have to rematch with someone we have already beaten, most likely TCU, unless the Frogs crater in their last two games. And while it’s not ideal to play them again 15 miles from their campus, it is what it is.
It’s not like we didn’t have this issue in the other eight title games in which we played. Three of those were rematches — and we won all three. Doesn’t mean anything for 2017, of course, but that’s the history of it.
On the other hand, it’s not like it’s easy to make the Playoff. We’ve already got three wins over CFP Top 15 teams, two of them on the road. Get another in the conference title game, and it can only help final placement. Don’t get it and it doesn’t matter anyway.
I could rant on and on about this, but it doesn’t matter. No matter who we play, we have to get past West Virginia and the conference title game opponent if we want a chance to play for the big prize.
Baker Mayfield is on his way to winning the Heisman going away. But while the Heisman is great, Mayfield would trade it for a national championship in a heartbeat.
And I would, too.
Even better would be another shot at Clemson, if they make it into the Final Four.
Win and we’re in, simple as that.
You couldn’t ask for more than to hold your own fate in your hands in November.
These Sooners have earned that — now they just have to finish.
(Editor's Note: This story appears in the 2017 Basketball Preview issue of Sooner Spectator. To read more or subscribe, call 405-364-4515)