Posted 01/03/2008 at 10:28 AM
Should we really be so surprised that Oklahoma lost in yet another big bowl game? It seems more than any other team in recent years the Sooners are able to create momentum in the regular season and people start to believe they could be one of the top teams in the nation, but every year they let everyone down in the big games. The pleads from Coach Stoops about his team belonging in the national title game fortunately rang hollow, and in the future it may be tough for Oklahoma to ever get a shot if there are other teams with similar resumes. Here are the bowl results for the last five years:
2007 Fiesta Bowl – West Virginia (+8.5) 48, Oklahoma 28
2006 Fiesta Bowl – Boise State (+7) 43, Oklahoma 42
2005 Holiday Bowl – Oklahoma (+3) 17, Oregon 14
2004 Orange Bowl – USC (-2) 55, Oklahoma 19
2003 Sugar Bowl – LSU (+6.5) 21, Oklahoma 14
The 2003 and 2004 games stand out, as an arguably deserving USC team was left out in 2003 and an undefeated Auburn squad was left out in 2004 only to see Oklahoma deliver underwhelming performances. Georgia’s complete domination of Hawaii this season in the Sugar Bowl also hurts Oklahoma as the Sooners lost to last year’s undefeated WAC Champion Boise State. Credit is certainly due to the West Virginia players and the remaining coaching staff but Oklahoma has to take some heat for losing badly to a team that lost its coach and had to be feeling the impact of the horribly disappointing loss at the end of the regular season that cost the Mountaineers a certain shot at the national title. Adding to the impressiveness of the feat was that the Mountaineers did it with outstanding RB Slaton on the sidelines after an early injury. West Virginia still compiled 349 yards on the ground against an Oklahoma rush defense that ranked #8 nationally.
Coach Stoops has done an outstanding job at Oklahoma and year and year out they are an elite team but he may be headed down the path Lloyd Carr just endured at Michigan. Both coaches won national championships early in their tenure but eventually the postseason losses add fuel to the fire for change. As one of the highest paid coaches in the nation at a tradition-rich school with incredible recruiting classes the expectations do not allow for such public failures. Stoops made several questionable decisions in the Fiesta Bowl last night such as going for an onside kick in the third quarter as well a few other moves that implied panic.
In the handicapping industry we often find that customers judge us by our finish to the season. If you have great regular season but bomb in the bowls, the customer will remember your season as one of failure, even if the units overall add up to a solid profit. It may not be fair but people are starting to only remember the bowl failures for Oklahoma, not the Big 12 championships, nor the high rankings and great statistics. Oklahoma is still a great program but they no longer scare anyone and the media is not going to keep giving them benefit of the doubt until they prove something in a bowl game.