Oklahoma concludes dismal season with crushing bowl loss

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By Sports editor Kyle Salomon,

One year ago, Oklahoma football looked to be back as one of the elite programs across the country.

OU had just pulled the upset of the century in the Sugar Bowl over Alabama and several big time national recruits decided they were going to take their talents to Norman and play for the Sooners.

Oklahoma entered this season as one of the favorites to make it to the first-ever college football playoff at the Division I level, but instead, Sooner nation got one of the most disappointing seasons in college football history.

The Sooners capped off the 2014 football season with a pathetic effort against Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. OU was drug all over the field by the Tigers in the 40-6 rout and the Sooners closed the year with a record of 8-5.

If Oklahoma fans had any hope of finishing off the disappointing season on a high note in their bowl game, that hope quickly turned to anger after each team’s first offensive possessions in the game.

The Sooners got the ball first and went a quick three-and-out that consisted of two running plays up the middle and a pass into double coverage on third-and-long.

After a rather pedestrian punt, Clemson started their opening possession on their own 35-yardline. On the first play of the drive, Tiger quarterback Cole Stoudt threw a simple wide receiver screen pass to Artavis Scott on the left side of the field.

Oklahoma had Clemson outnumbered on that side, but two veteran defensive players, linebacker Eric Striker and safety Quentin Hayes gave dismal efforts, allowing Scott to scamper 65 yards for a touchdown.

From that point on, the message was delivered to the Oklahoma team and the Sooner fans, who were watching in disgust. This was going to be a long night for OU football.

Clemson piled on 20 more points in the half following their opening touchdown and led 27-0 at the break.

With the tradition and prestige of the Oklahoma football program, one would think they Sooners would come out and play with pride in the second half. Instead, it was more of the same, a team that looked like they had no interest in being there.

The Tigers racked up 13 more points in the third quarter, as they led 40-0 heading into the final 15 minutes of the blowout. Clemson pulled all of its starters midway through the fourth quarter, which finally allowed Oklahoma, with its starters still in the game, to go down the field and score a meaningless touchdown.

Following the score, the extra-point was blocked, which is fitting considering how the season and the game went for OU.

The game ended with the 34-point defeat for Oklahoma, which is tied for the second-worst loss in the Bob Stoops era.

Striker said it all following the blowout loss.

“This is not the way Oklahoma plays,” the OU outside linebacker told reporters after the game.

The Sooners finished the game with 275 total yards of offense, including 172 rushing yards and 103 passing yards. Oklahoma amassed 17 first downs and converted 2 of 12 third downs.

OU committed five turnovers (three interceptions and two fumbles) and was penalized eight times for 80 yards.

Running back Samaje Perine was the leading rusher in the contest with 148 yards on 23 carries. Quarterback Trevor Knight had a rough outing in his return from the spine injury that held him out numerous games. Knight had 103 yards passing on 17 of 37 completions with three interceptions.

Receiver Michiah Quick was the leading pass catcher for OU with seven receptions for 46 yards. Striker led the Sooners in tackles with 12.

Three-years-ago, Sooner nation was begging for Mike Stoops to come back and coach OU’s defense and for Brent Venables to hit the road. Venables now coaches Clemson’s defense and they made Oklahoma’s offense look below par in nearly every facet of the game, while OU’s defense is still struggling to stop opposing offenses from hanging 40 points.

Clemson ended the day with 387 total yards of offense, including 319 passing yards and 68 rushing yards. The Tigers had 22 first downs and were 7 of 19 on third downs. The Tigers had zero turnovers and were penalized four times for 20 yards.

Running back Wayne Gallman was the leading rusher for Clemson with 57 yards on 19 carries. Stoudt finished the night going 26 of 36 with 319 yards and three touchdowns.

Receiver Mike Williams led the way through the air with nine receptions for 112 yards for one touchdown. Linebacker Korrin Wiggins had seven tackles for Clemson.

Oklahoma now enters arguably the most important offseason in the program’s history. Stoops has many obstacles to face with his staff and his players on where Sooner football is heading in the future. One thing is for certain, changes are mandatory if OU is to get back to being an elite football program across the nation.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops offered his thoughts about what needs to happen in the offseason following OU’s embarrassing performance.

“Gotta keep recruiting,” Stoops said. “Keep developing the players we have. We’ve got to analyze what we’re doing as coaches. So all of us need to improve. I need to do a better job, first and foremost, and coaches after me, players after that.”

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