John Hoover: OU took a loss in Morgantown on Saturday too
BY JOHN E. HOOVER World Sports Columnist
Sunday, October 21, 2012
10/21/12 at 6:38 AM
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Go to John E. Hoover's blog.Original Print Headline: Sooners took a loss in Morgantown too
NORMAN - Nobody around here likes West Virginia anyway. Dana Holgorsen either, for that matter.
For a change, the Mountaineers and all their offensive bluster had a chance to do Oklahoma a solid on Saturday. Hey, they could have helped themselves a bit, too.
Instead, they remained a painful thorn in the Sooners' side, losing to Kansas State - well, losing isn't a suitable word for the abomination of defense WVU played in Morgantown - and all but conceded the Big 12 Conference to the undefeated Wildcats.
Oh, Oklahoma did its part to stay in the race. In a predictably lopsided conference game against Kansas, the Sooners, a 35-point favorite, were simply brilliant, doing whatever they fancied - passing touchdowns, rushing touchdowns, punt return touchdowns, kickoff return touchdowns - and prevailing 52-7.
But it's too late now for OU to challenge for the Big 12 title.
The Wildcats and their perfect quarterback, 55-14 winners over WVU, are just too good, too far ahead now, and have way too easy a schedule to stumble twice.
For Oklahoma to win another even-year Big 12 crown - they have won the last six in a row - the Sooners already needed to win the rest of their games. But they also had to hope K-State loses twice to win a tiebreaker with the Wildcats.
And of course, they need the tiebreaker because K-State beat OU 24-19 on Sept. 22 in Norman.
That won't happen now. Kansas State's finishing slate looks easier than ever: Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, at TCU, at Baylor and Texas. Bill Snyder and Collin Klein losing two times to that group? Not against those defenses.
OU can definitely run the table. The Sooners' first-team defense has now gone almost three full games without allowing a touchdown, and quarterback Landry Jones gets better and better as the weapons around him become sharper and sharper. The Sooners have improved immeasurably since losing to K-State.
"We obviously feel very good about the way our guys played here tonight," coach Bob Stoops said.
But when the games conclude on Dec. 1, it won't be enough. Kansas State will emerge as the Big 12 champion.
Historically, the Mountaineers haven't been all that kind to the Sooners.
OU won easily in 1958 and 1978, but in 1982, Jeff Hostetler ruined Barry Switzer's season-opener with a 41-27 stunner in Norman, hitting six completions of 30 yards or more on his way to 321 passing yards.
"No one in Oklahoma, our fans, they didn't know who Jeff Hostetler was," Switzer said. "But we knew."
More recently, Sooner fans will recall the Mountaineers hammering OU 48-28 in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl. WVU pounded out 525 yards of total offense and 349 yards rushing in what several assistants called OU's most embarrassing defeat under Stoops, and Stoops' fourth BCS bowl loss in a row.
"Obviously," Stoops said that night, "I need to do things differently as a head coach."
West Virginia certainly could have given Stoops a lift this night.
Instead, Sooner fans will seethe over both of Kansas State's impressive road triumphs this season. A loud, unified groan went up from the 84,532 at Memorial Stadium midway through the third quarter when a 45-7 Wildcat lead was announced.
Holgorsen, the wild-haired mastermind of West Virginia's offense, didn't have a particularly good night in Morgantown. Maybe he was busy during the second half posting online job openings for a new defensive coordinator.
Holgorsen apprenticed under zany Mike Leach at Texas Tech, then slammed energy drinks and slept in hotels and never had a playbook in his one year calling plays in Stillwater before taking up with the musket and coonskin cap.
But no amount of Red Bull could give Holgorsen's defense wings against Klein.
Nicknamed "Optimus Klein" after a fictional giant shape-shifting space robot, Klein completed 19-of-21 passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for four more TDs, a virtuoso performance for the nation's newest Heisman Trophy favorite.
K-State has one of college football's most impressive resumes, road wins at No. 5 OU and No. 15 WVU and a home demolition of Miami.
The Sooners, now at No. 9 in BCS rankings, can certainly boost their own standing next week against Notre Dame.
"Now," Stoops said afterward, "we're on to Notre Dame.
"It's probably the most anticipated game since 2000 when Nebraska was coming in here ranked No. 1 in the country and we were ranked No. 2 in the country. That was a pretty incredible day."
ESPN's "College GameDay" will be in Norman Saturday, and, thanks to the Irish's dramatic victory over BYU on Saturday, they'll be undefeated.
But even then, even if OU logs a landmark triumph over Notre Dame, it won't be enough to overcome Bill Snyder's latest (and maybe greatest) masterpiece.
Oklahoma's Kenny Stills runs the ball against Ben Heeney of Kansas. MIKE SIMONS/Tulsa World