Oklahoma sends Bob Stoops out on a high note with a win in the Alamo Bowl.
Oklahoma was once again saved by Bob Stoops.
Stoops dug into the darkness left behind by Lincoln Riley’s abrupt and surprising departure and drew the Sooners into a potential future 23 years after infusing fresh life into a dying programme.
Although it was just one game, Stoops’ initial and enduring impact at OU was highlighted by the Alamo Bowl on Wednesday night. There aren’t any.
Anyway, with coordinators like Cale Gundy and Brian Odom calling plays, who needs Lincoln Riley and Alex Grinch?
In a 47-32 win against No. 14 Oregon inside the Alamodome, the No. 16 Sooners were both artistically and physically dominating.
After that, Stoops had his first Gatorade wash since 2016, then handed the ceremonial torch to new head coach Brent Venables, who was wearing his visor this time.
“It was fantastic,” Stoops added. “I was enthralled from the beginning. I became hooked to the fear and thrill of playing and not knowing what’s going to happen, you know, walking out on the field and preparing for it. It was something I had forgotten about. That vitality was missing from my life.
“And then, once you’re in it, you have to battle your way through it.” And that was entertaining. And, yes, when it’s all said and done, it’s a lot of fun. You know, you can take your headset off and enjoy the moment. So that was enjoyable. It was a thrilling experience.”
The Ducks’ two-deep was depleted by injuries, opt-outs, and other issues, but given the play of Caleb Williams, Kennedy Brooks, Marvin Mims, and the OU offensive line, it might not have mattered if the Ducks had projected first-round draught pick Kayvon Thibodeaux and two starting defensive backs in the lineup. It probably wouldn’t have made a difference if Oregon’s attack had been at full strength, either, given the way a reshuffled Oklahoma defensive performed.
Oregon (10-4) was also coping with a change of guard at the top, as head coach Mario Cristobal packed up and returned to his old college, the Miami Hurricanes.
However, when Oregon appointed receivers coach Bryan McClendon as interim head coach — he was 1-0 as a head coach, including a 2015 bowl win against Georgia in an interim position — OU replied with Stoops.
Stoops, who has 190 career victories, 10 Big 12 Conference championships, a national title, victories in every New Year’s Day bowl game, and a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame that he was inducted into just this month, took over a struggling OU programme and guided it safely into the Brent Venables era.
When athletic director Joe Castiglione physically pulled him off the golf course on Nov. 29—Stoops having spent the previous five years as Joe C’s “special assistant”—his initial response was to ease the pain and anger over Riley’s abrupt departure for USC.
Stoops reassured the existing players — at least those who elected to remain — before focusing on the 2022 recruiting class.
“It’s been an up-and-down roller coaster,” Williams stated in his first public appearance since the summer of 2020 during the postgame news conference. “It’s something that all of my guys have gone through.” We were all taken aback. We were all struck at the same time and in the same place. So that’s how things have gone up and down. We lost a large number of coaches. And, you know, there’s a legend (in Stoops) that comes back.”
Stoops soon refocused on becoming a head coach again in the Alamo Bowl, a game that added a victory to his ledger that had been taken by Pac-10 Conference officials in a disputed 34-33 defeat to the Ducks in Eugene back in 2006.
That one was a nail-biter from start to finish, but there was a clear skill mismatch this time. The disparity in mentality between the sides was even more pronounced—at least in the pivotal first half. Oklahoma was focused and determined. Oregon was not one of them.
In the first half alone, Brooks ran for 127 yards and two touchdowns on ten runs. Caleb Williams completed 12-of-17 throws for 129 yards and two touchdowns before halftime, including a 55-yard touchdown pass to Mims, then added a third touchdown pass to start the third quarter.
Williams’ other first-half touchdown pass was to Drake Stoops, who sent the 59,121 OU faithful into a frenzy and sparked a Stoops family celebration on the sideline, which included twin brother Isaac, who is now a student assistant coach.
Stoops won for the 191st time in his career, raising his winning percentage from.798 to.799.
Williams threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns on 21-of-27 passing. On only 14 carries, Brooks amassed 142 yards and three touchdowns. Gray led the Sooners in receiving yards with five receptions for 25 yards and 82 running yards on eight runs, including a season-high 48 yards.
The Ducks came alive in the second half, scoring 22 points on a 66-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Anthony Brown to Dont’e Thornton behind D.J. Graham and a 34-yard touchdown pass from Kris Hutson to Woodi Washington.
Caleb Williams threw a 6-yard touchdown throw to Eric Gray, and Brooks added an 8-yard touchdown run to put the Ducks at bay. With 8:56 left in the game, Gabe Brkic, who had missed his first career extra point in the first quarter, added a 29-yard fourth-quarter field goal to his 40-yarder in the second quarter to increase the OU advantage back to 47-25.
With 6:46 remaining, Brown threw another 30-yard bomb to Troy Franklin over Graham.
Travis Dye carried for 153 yards and a score on 18 runs for Oregon, while Brown threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns on 27-of-40 passing.