Getting Worse, Sooner Rather Than Later

Traffic in South Florida delayed both schools team buses from arriving at the site of the BCS national title game on time as scheduled, a trivial tidbit to the season's final game you'd be excused for not knowing.

Oklahoma's record-setting offensive unit did eventually make it, but if you watched Florida's 24-14 win over the Sooners, you'd be excused for not knowing that either.

Because what took the field was trivial compared to the biblical 702-point fire-and-brimstone offense that tore through the Big 12 and burned out more scoreboards.

After a season in which they spent more time scoring in the 60s than Tiger Woods in his best week, Oklahoma's high-octane offense played like it had a pound of sugar in its gas tank, a herky jerky rendering of the offense that didn't so much level defenses as reap them directly out of the ground.

It was less like they were playing football and more like every member of the team had been simultaneously asked to recite the alphabet backwards. It was like watching Usain Bolt run the 100-meters only after twirling around enough to make himself dizzy.

And in the end it rendered 360 yards. Two interceptions. Fourteen measly points.

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One awfully familiar feeling.

Another year, another bowl loss for Oklahoma. And it only seems to be getting worse.When all is said about the 2008 season for the Sooners, there will be plenty to remember with pride: The Big 12 championship, the NCAA-record point total, the reckoning they laid at the feet of Texas Tech, the biggest Bedlam beating in Stillwater since 1983, the dual 1,000-yard rushers, Sam Bradford's Heisman trophy and highlight after highlight after highlight until even Bill Belichick probably thought they were piling on too many points.

For some schools, even with the loss in the BCS title game, it's the kind of season that can get buildings constructed on campus and named for every member of the coaching staff.

At Oklahoma, it's reason to kick your own dog.

All season, Oklahoma's offensive prowess had been more a law of nature than statistical trend. They scored 60 against five straight teams. Four of those teams went on to play in bowls. All of those four won at least nine games.

So watching Bradford and the offense look quizzically at Florida was a little like putting water in the freezer only to watch it boil.

It was the biggest stage, they no-showed it like an Evite from Pacman Jones.

Stop us when you've heard this one before.

For Oklahoma, it was their fifth straight BCS bowl loss. Back-to-back BCS title game losses in 2004 and '05. A shocking Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State in 2006. An embarrasment at the hands of West Virginia in 2007. And then this. Somewhere, even Ohio State is snickering.

And the man they once called "Big Game Bob" now has a nickname that seems as antiquated as the firmly midwestern Michigan's "Champions of the West" sobriquet.

But in the rubble of Oklahoma's season, he at least had a firm grasp on one thing.

"You lose a game," Stoops said, looking like he'd just been run over by the Sooner Schooner, "through the whole process of the game."

And the process was ugly.

There were debatable coaching calls, like the decision to run, and get stood up, on fourth-and-goal in the second quarter, a decision that will likely bruise long before it disappears, or the even stranger option to let kicker Jimmy Stevens try a 49-yard field goal when his longest of the season was 42 yards.

There was Heisman winner Sam Bradford trying to jam a pass into Manny Johnson between four defenders on the goal line at the end of the first half, a ball that would be tipped by all of them and intercepted by Major Wright, yet another red zone failure for a team so automatic in side the 20 this season. And the defense, which played marvelously through three quarters, just couldn't stop Tim Tebow in the final 15 minutes anymore than they could stop an avalanche with a snow shovel.

There were highlights. The Gators never came up with an answer for tight end Jermaine Gresham, who caught both touchdowns. Chris Brown ran for 110 yards. And that kick-sand-in-their-face defense stood up for itself in a big way, limiting Florida to its lowest scoring output of the season.

But those highlights seemed to pass even faster than Florida's Percy Harvin could outrun the Sooner defense.

But the problem for Oklahoma is that they may have misse their championship window in the near future as an exodus of NFLers bolt out of Norman like they're fleeing a rust-belt city, particularly on its record-setting offense unit. Bradford has reportedly all but made up his mind to go to the NFL and most of his mobile home on wheels of an offensive will join him. Only right tackle Trent Williams will remain behind. Gresham, a junior, is expected to leave early while top targets Johnson and Juaquin Iglesias are both seniors.

The good news is that Oklahoma is more dynasty than program. The Sooners have more four and five-stars in their stable than a meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and will never have to stand in line at college football's soup kitchens.

But, like gameday itself, when exactly Oklahoma will successfully arrive on a national stage again, is a bit of a mystery.

Yes, Oklahoma finally got off the bus Thursday. But make no mistake, these Sooners are still stuck.

Getting Worse, Sooner Rather Than Later originally appeared on NCAA Football FanHouse on Fri, 09 Jan 2009 08:21:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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