Maybe Bob Stoops was the the holdup.
No, seriously ...
After taking the reins of Oklahoma's football program in 1999 and winning the national title a year later, thanks to the crafty leadership of lefty quarterback Josh Heupel and a championship game opponent in spark plugs-missing Florida State that needed a gift safety in order to avoid being blanked, the Stoops-led Sooners thereafter were the ultimate symbols of disappointment.
Every single stinkin' season after that hideous 13-2 victory, Stoops' troops would enter autumn all the rage in experts' opinion. Always labeled a contender for top honors. Always listed in the top 5. Always, “ooh, better watch out for them. They're loaded.”
Yeah, uh-huh, OK.
Frankly, it got annoying ... especially when, year in, year out, it was proven that Oklahoma had no biz being linked with the best the country had to offer.
Oh, Bobby Boy talked a good game, and made sure to poke the college game's bear, aka the Southeastern Conference, every chance he got, and usually he'd end up with double-digit wins, a bowl bid, and just enough cachet to convince most that “next year” would be the year the Sooners matched that 13-0 perfection of his second campaign running the show in Norman, Okla.
Never happened. Not even last year with Heisman contender Baker Mayfield at the helm. The Sooners started out 1-2, and got embarrassed in Weeks 1 and 3 by Houston – yes,. Houston – and Ohio State.
Those belly-up efforts just were all too common. At least a once-a-year occurrence.
But, maybe, no more. With the youthful Stoops' surprising retirement in June, the Sooners ... umm, well, they seem free to realize the potential that their former coach positioned them to attain.
Big Test No. 1 occurred this past Saturday, and the Sooners didn't just erase memories of last season's home loss to Ohio State. They obliterated the Buckeyes. In Columbus, Ohio. Before 100,000. With Mayfield leading the way, before, during and after the game.
Gotta admire the guy for having the cojones, and ability, to play like he was going to plant the Oklahoma flag at midfield post-game, whether he actually did it or not. (He did.)
The convincing, 31-16 victory, sparked by Mayfield's 386 yards and 3 TDs passing, not only bumped up the Sooners from fifth to second in the polls, but it showed them to be more legit ... than at any other time since 2000.
Truth be told, at no point in the contest was there ever a doubt as to which was the superior – not better, superior – team. Even when OSU took 3-0, 10-3 and 13-10 leads.
Bob, ya done good ... by stepping down.
Best in Show, Non-Oklahoma Division: A lot to choose from here, with Georgia winning at Notre Dame and Clemson putting the clamps on high-powered Auburn, but gotta go with Southern Cal. The sixth-ranked Trojans traded haymakers with No. 14 Stanford until the visiting Cardinal couldn't keep up – even with Sam Darnold tossing a couple picks for USC. The balanced attack was special in this one, with the hosts churning out 307 yards on the ground to go with Darnold's 316 through the air.
Leader in the Clubhouse, Jackass Division: He has done wonders in short order in State College, but Penn State coach James Franklin would be wise, at times, to just shut the eff up. Yeah, we get it. You're emphasizing how every game is important, that no game is means more than another, and that Pitt is not “at your level,” in your eyes, but enough already with the pompous elitism. You sound like an idiot, dude, stating how Pitt's win against your Nittany Lions last season was the Panthers' Super Bowl. Really? Tops them beating eventual national champ Clemson, on the road, no less, huh? Yo, get a grip on the ego.
Big Ten Bubble Burst: It wasn't just Ohio State taking it on the chin. Expected West Division contender Northwestern got demolished at Duke, Nebraska's defense gave up close to 600 yards in a loss at Oregon, Iowa barely survived against Iowa State and Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and Wisconsin were hardly dominating despite posting scores that might make it seem they were. Truth be told, the saving grace for the conference was the play of fair-to-middling Minnesota, Indiana and Maryland, and lesser light Illinois shutting down last year's national scoring champ, Western Kentucky.
Interesting to Note: For Philadelphia Eagles fans not exactly thrilled now at the fourth-round selection of San Diego State running back Donnell Pumphrey in this past April's NFL Draft, evidence is mounting that it, you know, it may be a system thing out there with the Mountain West program. DP's backup last year, Rashaad Perry, not only racked 1,000 rushing yards to Pumphrey's 1,600, but he already has 413 in two games thus far this season. Maybe the Birds could make a play for Perry next spring. At least he's got some size (5-11, 220) to go with the gaudy stats.