Oklahoma all of the sudden feeling the stress in beefed-up Massive 12

Published:Mar 8, 202422:50

By RJ Younger
FOX Sports activities School Soccer Author 

For the primary time this season, Brent Venables’ Oklahoma Sooners felt stress to be good.

Stress to win in entrance of a sellout crowd at an evening sport — and Lord is aware of Oklahoma followers love an evening sport in Norman — stress to return from two TDs down, stress to win as a top-10 crew.

Final Saturday, in a 41-34 loss at house to Kansas State, the Sooners realized what stress can do to even essentially the most gifted.

"Stress reveals who you're, each good and dangerous," Venables mentioned.

The Wildcats have dealt with the stress effectively on this matchup, profitable two of the final three towards two completely different teaching staffs.

On Saturday, Ok-State quarterback Adrian Martinez was on the market like '02 Reggie McNeal towards the then-No. 1 ranked Sooners. Martinez was unstoppable, and the Wildcats had been aided by the actual fact the Sooners dedicated 11 penalties and went 4-for-13 on third-down conversion makes an attempt, whereas Kansas State went 8-for-17.

Oklahoma Sooners shocked by Kansas State

Oklahoma Sooners stunned by Kansas State

RJ Younger reacts to the Oklahoma Sooners falling to the Kansas State Wildcats in Week 4. Kansas State had a day due to QB Adrian Martinez's 5 touchdowns.

Oklahoma's linebackers and safeties could not sort out in area and, even worse, didn’t look any extra bodily than a resort pillow after a protracted day — hardly like a Venables protection.

For those who’re of the thoughts that Venables has a sixth sense for recruiting and growing gamers who had been regarded over, then I consider you possibly can nonetheless suppose that. He hit the bottom working at OU, placing collectively a wholesome 2022 class and a crackerjack teaching workers as well.

However this protection ain't anyplace close to 2018 Clemson — even 2014 Clemson — so the ceiling is not as excessive because it’s been, and the ground is far decrease than it has been in 10 years.

On the opposite facet of the ball, quarterback Dillon Gabriel has been good — even nice — by way of 4 video games as a Sooner. In opposition to Ok-State, his stat line makes him appear like a Heisman contender: 26 of 39 for 330 yards and 4 TDs. 

However these are the numbers. Heisman contenders — together with Oklahoma quarterbacks within the School Soccer Playoff period — make performs.

Down seven late within the third quarter, Venables put the ball in Gabriel’s fingers on fourth-and-3. Offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby known as up a play that beat the protection, with large receiver Drake Stoops working open on a five-yard out. However Gabriel tossed the cross too large for Stoops to catch.

Dillon Gabriel throws strike to assist Oklahoma tie rating

Dillon Gabriel throws strike to help Oklahoma tie score

Dillon Gabriel threw a formidable TD to assist the Oklahoma Sooners tie the rating towards Kansas State within the second quarter Saturday.

On the Sooners’ subsequent offensive series, Gabriel missed the crew’s finest receiver, Marvin Mims, on a third-and-9 that regarded destined to attain six and tie the sport with a made additional level. On fourth-and-go-get-it, Gabriel didn’t have it. 

He had the sport in his fingers, and he threw passes that two of essentially the most sure-handed wideouts on the roster may solely try to catch.

The Sooners have been graced with almost 25 years of sustained success. The truth is, as an OU fan, I haven’t skilled a single shedding season since I used to be 11 years outdated, and I turned 35 in July.

However much more attention-grabbing than that's that the Sooners have loved largely legendary play on the quarterback place throughout that very same time span.

Over twenty years, Oklahoma has watched 4 quarterbacks — Jason White, Sam Bradford, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray — win the Heisman Trophy. Three of them had been chosen No. 1 general within the NFL Draft. 

But it surely goes a lot deeper than that. Landry Jones is this system's all-time chief in passing yards and passing TDs. Jalen Hurts introduced OU again from 25 factors down towards Baylor on the street and led the Sooners to their fourth CFP look in 5 years. Paul Thompson beat Nebraska within the 2006 Massive 12 title sport. Trevor Knight beat Nick Saban and Alabama within the 2013 Sugar Bowl. Nate Hybl led Oklahoma to a 12-2 season, a Massive 12 title and Rose Bowl win towards Washington State in 2002. And Josh Heupel led the Sooners to their final nationwide championship win towards Bobby Bowden’s Florida State. 

Former Sooners QBs (from left) Jason White, Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray every gained the Heisman Trophy. (Picture by Brian Bahr/Getty Pictures)

Alongside the way in which, there have been moments when every a kind of quarterbacks — from Heupel to Hurts — needed to decide up the protection. Saturday was Gabriel’s first alternative to do this, and he got here up brief.

What’s unnerving about Gabriel’s efficiency towards Ok-State is that he walked in with what's the finest OU protection this system has fielded in 5 years. It’s good to remind people that OU didn’t rating towards Kent State in Week 3 till there have been 18 seconds left on the clock, and that may be a reflection of quarterback play, too.

For his half, Venables isn’t apprehensive in regards to the protection or the quarterback play. 

Nonetheless, the Sooners are going to need to pressure this season to win the Massive 12 Championship. Not simply because the Sooners aren’t as offensively overpowering as they had been within the Lincoln Riley period, or as a result of the quarterback play isn’t as legendary because it was then both, however as a result of the Massive 12 has beefed up, grown uninterested in being lorded over by the Sooners.

Baylor and Oklahoma State gave us all a style of that final 12 months, and now Kansas, Texas Tech, Texas Christian and Kansas State are threats to affix the combination. 

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'Rank Kansas!'

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Each sport the Sooners play from right here on out goes to be a dogfight, and Venables is aware of it. It’s time Oklahoma followers made peace with it, too. 

There are eight video games left to play, and the street to a Massive 12 title and CFP choice remains to be there. However there isn't any room for error — none.

"We’re not gonna be outlined by this loss shifting ahead," Venables mentioned. "We'll, nonetheless, be outlined by how we reply shifting ahead." 

Nice. Let's examine how the Sooners outline themselves. 

Like Gary Gaines standing in a circle of worn-out Odessa Permian Panthers earlier than the beginning of their 1988 season, the stakes had been made clear, and the query was requested of the Sooners: Are you able to be good?

RJ Younger is a nationwide faculty soccer author and analyst for FOX Sports activities and the host of the podcast "The Number One College Football Show." Comply with him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to "The RJ Young Show" on YouTube.

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