Oklahoma football: Blowing double-digit leads endemic in 2017 season

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Guard Dyshon Sims
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 01: Guard Dyshon Sims /

It’s hard to qualify the 2017 Oklahoma football as anything but a huge success.

After all, only four teams advance to the College Football Playoff with a chance to play for the national championship, and the Sooners were one of those select four this year.

Sooner fans are still smarting – and probably will be for some time this offseason – from the way Oklahoma lost to Georgia in the Playoff semifinal game played in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day. The Sooners managed to blow a 17-point lead and squander a dominant first-half performance in losing to this year’s Southeastern Conference champions.

As painful as the Rose Bowl loss was, however, it wasn’t something OU fans haven’t seen before this season.

Four games readily come to mind from this past season in which the Sooners blew double-digit leads and actually trailed in the fourth quarter. OU rallied to win three of those contests, all away from Norman, but at home against Iowa State the first weekend in October, the then third-ranked Sooners gave away a 14-point second half lead and ended up losing by a touchdown.

And that wasn’t the first time in the 2017 season that the three-time defending Big 12 champions raced out to a big early advantage only to see it all evaporate as the game wore on.

Against a Baylor team that was only one game better than winless Kansas in the Big 12 this season, OU was up 28-10 five minutes into the second quarter, but found itself trailing by three points near the end of the third quarter. The Sooners rallied in the final quarter to avoid losing its conference opener, but unbeknownst to anyone at the time, this same near-death experience and disturbing trend would rear its ugly head several more times in the 2017 season.

The Sooners also saw a 21-point lead against Texas and an 11-point advantage over Oklahoma State, in a Bedlam battle that truly lived up to its billing, go by the wayside before Baker Mayfield and Company performed their late-game magic to seize victory from the jaws of defeat, as the late ABC sports journalist Jim McKay would say.

In an interesting twist of fate, it was Oklahoma that was the beneficiary of a big comeback after falling behind 21-7 early in the second quarter at Kansas State. The Sooners scored 21 unanswered points to take the lead at 28-21 early in the fourth quarter. K-State would come back to tie the game two different times after that before Oklahoma pushed across the game-winning touchdown with only seven seconds remaining in regulation.

All of this to say that what all of us as Sooner fans celebrated as a very successful 12-2 first season with Lincoln Riley at the helm and without Bob Stoops could just as easily been a highly disappointing 8-6 season.

Of course, the optimist side of me would like to believe it also could have been a 13-2 or, even better, 14-1 season. It really doesn’t do any good to be able to score quickly and often if the defense is going to give it all back.

Had the ball bounced a little differently this season, we could be looking at a season outcome we would be loathing rather than lauding.

How does that definition of insanity go again?