Lincoln Riley will keep in mind this Oklahoma season for a very long time. It took so much to get to the tip of it — with two important trophies.
The No. 8 Sooners navigated by means of the season performed beneath the cloud of a pandemic, and their first 0-2 begin in Large 12 play since 1998, to win their sixth convention title in a row, then wrapped it up with an awesome 55-20 win over Tenth-ranked SEC runner-up Florida on Wednesday night time within the Cotton Bowl — the primary New 12 months’s Six sport performed.
“It’s totally significant to us with the way in which the yr has gone for everyone to have the ability to have a look at the robust issues and never see obstacles, however see alternatives,” Riley mentioned. “It has been our mindset. We felt that approach your complete yr and actually closed so sturdy.”
Spencer Rattler threw for 3 touchdowns and ran for an additional rating, and Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for 186 yards for the Sooners (9-2, No. 6 CFP), who received the Cotton Bowl in the identical NFL stadium the place 11 days earlier they claimed their newest Large 12 title. They led 17-0 within the first seven minutes on strategy to essentially the most factors and yards (684) they’ve ever had in a bowl sport.
The Sooners had 435 yards dashing, together with 110 from freshman Marcus Main. They averaged 10.52 yards per play total, essentially the most ever in opposition to a Energy 5 opponent in a bowl sport, in accordance with STATS.
Rattler threw a 27-yard TD move to fellow freshman Marvin Mims on the sport’s opening drive, and Florida’s first possession ended with Tre Norwood’s 45-yard interception return for a landing. That was the primary of three picks thrown by Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Kyle Trask within the first quarter, after solely 5 all season.
“A few instances, we confused their quarterback with protection, and he let go of a few throws that weren’t as decisive as we normally see him make” Riley mentioned.
Oklahoma performed in its sixth consecutive New 12 months’s Six bowl sport, however the final three seasons had misplaced School Soccer Playoffs semifinal video games whereas giving up a median of 54 factors to completely different SEC groups.
The Sooners completed this season with an eight-game successful streak. Their 0-2 begin in Large 12 play successfully knocked them out of playoff competition by mid-October.
“I really feel like this win particularly goes to get us going, going into subsequent yr,” Rattler mentioned. “It is a sport we wished to return out right here and coach Riley mentioned, we need to make a press release. As a gaggle, we try this nicely.”
These Gators (8-4, No. 7 CFP) had been a lot completely different than the staff that simply 11 days earlier fell 52-46 to No. 1 Alabama within the SEC title sport, and had averaged practically 42 factors a sport.
Trask performed presumably his closing faculty sport, however did not have his high 4 pass-catchers, and did not play after the opening drive of the second half.
AP All-America tight finish Kyle Pitts and two others receivers opted out to begin making ready for his or her professional futures, and sophomore receiver Jacob Copeland examined optimistic for COVID-19. They had been amongst 17 gamers that Florida mentioned had been unavailable.
Twin-threat sophomore QB Emory Jones had a 1-yard keeper for Florida’s first landing halfway by means of the second quarter, capping a 16-play, 88-yard drive when each he and Trask took snaps.
Trask completed 16 of 28 for 158 yards, whereas Jones was 8 of 16 for 86 yards — with 12 gamers catching passes.
“A number of guys bought some actually good expertise on the market for us tonight,” coach Dan Mullen mentioned. “I feel the longer term is de facto vibrant.”
Rattler was the fourth beginning quarterback in as many seasons to steer Oklahoma to a Large 12 title and a NY6 sport, the primary who started his profession in this system quite than coming in as a switch. He was 14 of 23 passing for 247 yards and ran for 40 yards.
Florida bought inside 17-13 late within the first half earlier than Theo Wease caught a move on a brief crossing route, then reduce inside behind some downfield blockers for a 36-yard TD play. Rattler then bought his dashing landing within the closing seconds of the primary half.
Stevenson had a 15-yard TD run within the third quarter when at the very least six completely different defenders bought their palms on him has he shuffled and twisted towards the tip zone.
Florida: The Gators performed of their third consecutive NY6 sport since Mullen turned their head coach. They received the primary two. Whereas a tricky night time total, they did present some optimistic glimpses of what their offense may very well be able to after Trask set single-season faculty data with 4,283 yards passing and 43 TDs. Jones ran for 60 yards, and freshman operating again Nay’Quan Wright had positive aspects of 18 and 26 yards.
Oklahoma: Rattler completed with 28 TD passes, and Mims set a Sooners freshman file with 9 receiving TDs in 11 video games. The Sooners are 45-8 in 4 seasons beneath Riley That is essentially the most wins within the first 4 seasons for an OU coach. Bob Stoops, his predecessor, was 43-9 from 1999-2002, together with the Sooners’ final nationwide title in 2000.
Florida: Jones, in his fourth season in this system, may get his first begin because the Gators quarterback after they open the 2021 season Sept. 4 at house in opposition to Florida Atlantic.
Oklahoma: The Sooners may once more be favored to win one other Large 12 title. Their opener subsequent season is Sept. 4 at Tulane.