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Just The Sports: Oklahoma's Bowl Woes

Just The Sports

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Oklahoma's Bowl Woes

The recipe for being an elite college football team is a simple one, which belies the fact that it is a difficult task to execute. First, a team wishing for the distinction of being called elite is helped immensely by having a tradition of winning or at least a reputation for getting a lot of national television coverage so that the cream of the crop of recruits is likely to attend there. Then the college will need to mix in actually developing their recruits in order to avoid a downward trend in play that can come about by the attrition of players who graduate or leave early. After that, the college must add a dash of demolishing those cupcake teams that fill up their win column without giving any nutritional value to their record and also dominate their conference opponents. Lastly, the wannabe elite college football squad must win their bowl games against the country's best other teams.

Unfortunately for Oklahoma and Bob Stoops in their quest to be taken seriously for both the regular and post-seasons and not become the butt of jokes, the school has failed in this last step of the recipe. Despite the fact that college football gives teams what seems like years to prepare for their bowl game, an advantage that one would think with Oklahoma's regular-season success and Big 12 supremacy would lead victories. Instead, Oklahoma has managed only four wins in nine bowl games.

What makes the losses troubling for a program headed up by the second-highest paid head football coach in the nation is how much of a precipitous drop the Oklahoma offense takes against its bowl opponents' defenses. For anyone who has ever done confidence testing, the fact that Oklahoma's offense has been statistically significantly inferior in bowl games versus other games when there have only been nine Oklahoma bowl games against one hundred ten other games demonstrates just how inept Oklahoma has been offensively in bowl games compared to how consistently great the Sooners are on other occasions.

In their nine bowl games, Oklahoma quarterbacks and wide receivers have combined for a 62.4% completion percentage on 6.4 yards per pass attempt while in the other one hundred ten contests, the passing battery is responsible for 61.9% completion percentage on 7.5 yards per pass attempt. Although there is a slight increase in the completion percentage, it is no match for the decline in yards per pass attempt, which correlates most highly with points scored. Alone, the inability to string together a passing attack would be enough to undo any team, but the Sooners add to that struggle an anemic running game, too. Carriers of the pigskin for the Sooners only get 3.0 yards per attempt in bowl games; compare that to 4.3 yards per carry in the other games and you will recognize why Oklahoma will never be able to be an elite team.

Stoops, as the head coach, will get the blame for Oklahoma's struggles and unless he does something to change his teams' fortunes in bowl games, there will come a day when it will not be enough for Sooner fans to win the Big 12 title. Sooner or later they will want Oklahoma football to be truly elite instead of just dominant in one area and that will all start with being able to perform better in bowl games.



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