MORGANTOWN, WV — Nothing can save Oklahoma’s season at this point.
The Sooners (5-5 agg, 2-5 Big 12) set a conference-game losing record with Saturday’s 23-20 loss to West Virginia in Morgantown.
OU’s abundance of problems all surfaced to help lose.
There were mistakes from special teams, costly procedural penalties, battles for third place on both sides of the ball, and Oklahoma once again demonstrated an inability to capitalize on any type of momentum.
For the second time this season, the Sooners have had to catch a flight back to Norman after back-to-back conference losses.
Losses to Kansas State and TCU were gut-wrenching, but there was theoretically enough time to turn the season around and potentially get back into Big 12 racing.
But with just two games left in the season, all OU can play for now is bowl eligibility and an emotional mayhem win.
Before the contests against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, Brent Venables is looking for a different reaction from the team to end his first season as head coach.
“At some point we have to be angry and do something about it,” said Venables after the defeat on Saturday. “All of us. It’s not okay. We have a number of reasons that we can use to justify failure. But we have to get better.
“We have to train them better and we have to play better. We have to play smarter. We have to become more efficient. I thought West Virginia did a great job today, but I thought Oklahoma beat Oklahoma today.
Despite the slump that both OU and OSU have suffered since last year, Bedlam will return to prime time on ABC this Saturday night.
Through the eyes of the college football world looking down on Norman, offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby said the team needs to pull itself together and dictate how the team wants to finish 2022.
“We still have two games left,” he said. “We have Bedlam at home on Saturday and we have to make a decision about who we want to be and how we want to end these things, so together we have to make a decision to go out, do our job, execute, play clean and play like that how we can play.
“…I think everyone in that locker room is hurting right now. We have to get them back up, have to get back up and find a way to fight our butts on Saturday and win Bedlam. I think everyone also understands how important this game on Saturday is… Our boys will fight and scrape and put us in a position to be able to win.”
There’s no switch Oklahoma can flip to fix its problems.
If it existed, the team would have locked themselves in weeks ago.
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But now, with everyone working to fix the mental blunders that have cost OU dearly this year, the coaching staff must fight any loss of confidence.
Now more than ever, Venables will be watching the leaders in the dressing room to ensure everyone stays mentally locked in next week.
“That’s exactly what leadership should do,” he said. “Whether it’s coaches or the other leaders on the team, you have to be practical, honest and take responsibility.
“We talked a long time about finding the right path. We will continue to emphasize these things. The journey is tough. It’s challenging. Through disappointment there is an opportunity to grow and get better. We will try that in the last two games.”
Leadership has never been publicly questioned by the coaching staff.
Venables has claimed that despite all the odds this year, he’s happy with that aspect of the team.
Even after the OU meltdown in Morgantown, defense coordinator ted roof believes the Sooners have the right votes in the dressing room to avoid a disastrous four-game losing streak at the end of the year.
“We have a great attitude and great character types in our dressing room,” Roof said. “Since we’ve been here, the boys have bought in. I have so much respect and admiration for them and I am disappointed in them.
“Our leaders in this dressing room, we still have some football to play. I have no doubt they will do it right.”
A 7-5 season would be the worst record to close out the regular season at Norman since Bob Stoops’ first season with OU in 1999, but it’s the best Oklahoma can hope for.
The message from above has remained the same so ultimately it will fall on the players to change their fortunes over the next two weeks and it starts with Bedlam this Saturday
“Eventually you get tired of losing”, OU Security Billy Bowman said. “You can’t keep coming back here and doing the same things over and over again. We only have one choice. Go back to work.
“We’ve only got two games left. So get back to work and we just have to find a way to make sure we’re on the other side of where we were today.”
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