WACO, Texas — Maybe everything is still possible. Or almost everything. Certainly more than anybody might have guessed before Oklahoma arrived to play Baylor.
Because the Sooner team that entered Floyd Casey Stadium Saturday night, the one that absolutely dismantled Baylor 53-24, looked nothing like the Sooner team that, well, let us count the games.
It looked nothing like the Sooner team that …
• Beat Utah State 31-24.
• Beat Air Force 27-24.
• Beat Cincinnati 31-29.
• Beat Texas 28-20.
• Lost at Missouri 36-27.
• Lost at Texas A&M 33-19.
It looked nothing like itself in six of its first 10 games this season. And it looked nothing like itself in four previous games played away from Owen Field.
It’s enough to leave the Sooner Nation joyous and angry all at once.
Because where was this band of Sooners at Columbia and College Station — not to mention all the rest — where a few less turnovers and mistakes might have left OU in the national championship hunt.
Yet that same Sooner Nation must rejoice in the knowledge that, though Oklahoma State has earned the right to be referred to as the best team in the Big 12’s South Division, the Pokes will still have to prove it this coming Saturday. No longer can they count on OU laying another egg away from home.
Just maybe, those days are over.
It’s a wondrous predicament for the state.
The Sooners or Cowboys will play in the last Big 12 championship game.
Don’t be surprised if Vegas deems it a pick’em game by the time it kicks off and if OU can just do in Stillwater what it has done here in Waco, well, a Stoops era seventh conference title might just be in the cards.
If OU can make the same plays all over again, there’s every reason to believe it will get the chance.
For all of his linebacking skill, injuries have kept Austin Box sidelined much of his time in crimson and cream and so it was again Saturday, as he once left with a twisted ankle and then left for good after hurting the ankle again.
Yet before getting hurt, Box stuffed Jay Finley on fourth-and-1 from the Baylor 33 in what might have been the biggest single play of the season.
With the short field, OU was back in the end zone four plays later and up 14-0 and from there the route was on and who knows if any of it happens without Box’s big play. The only thing completely clear is the Sooners knew what to do with the play once it had been made.
By the 10:02 mark of the second quarter, OU had already put 28 points on the board. By the half, Tress Way had punted only once. Baylor was hardly given the oppportunity to breathe.
Maybe the Sooners are only good as long as good things are happening around them. But if so, a fortnight ago’s indictment became Saturday’s proving ground, when just about everything that happened after Box’s big play was very good.
Also, just maybe, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson was right during the week when he opined OU actually began building in the second half of its last loss, at Texas A&M.
Wilson said he saw growth and maybe a pattern was already in play by the time the Sooners took on the Bears. Landry Jones threw another one of those silly interceptions on OU’s first drive, but he was money the rest of the night, perhaps with some help from the Baylor defense, yet still he made the throws.
He threw for 325 yards, completed 26 of 39 passes and, once again, there wasn’t a whole lot of those easy sideways throws he’s counted on for much of the season.
The running game didn’t go crazy, but 4.8 yards per tote from DeMarco Murray isn’t bad. Maybe the Sooners can keep it going in the trenches.
Maybe they can keep it going, period.
Historical trends are kind.
Typically, the Bedlam Series is a Sooner operation. Most of the time, since Stoops’ arrival, OU has been better in Weeks 11 and 12 than Weeks 1 through 10.
Maybe it’s happening again.
At least, OU’s good enough to believe.