Talented Oklahoma players Sam Bradford, Jermaine Gresham, Trent Williams and Gerald McCoy all returned to school to challenge for the national championship after losing in the BCS title game last season.
Those title plans and the Sooners’ season went awry after a devastating run of injuries that left them stumbling through a 7-5 record that was the worst regular-season mark of Bob Stoops’ career.
Gresham was lost for the season in training camp with a knee injury, and Bradford lasted less than two full games before he was lost with a shoulder injury that caused him to miss the rest of the season.
Those losses, coupled with a crippling run of injuries on the offensive line and on defense, was simply too much to endure for the Sooners in the competitive Big 12 South.
Redshirt freshman Landry Jones took over at quarterback and showed flashes, but was very streaky. Jones threw six touchdown passes against Tulsa and five against Texas A&M, but was intercepted five times by Nebraska.
The defense held up most of the season before collapsing in an embarrassing 41-13 loss to Texas Tech that ensured that Stoops would have more regular-season losses than in any previous season. But the Sooners regrouped for a 27-0 triumph against Oklahoma State that restored some luster. It also allowed the Sooners to join Alabama, TCU and Ohio State as the only teams to finish in the top 10 in scoring defense, rush defense and pass efficiency defense this season.
Offensive MVP Ryan Broyles
Despite missing most of two games and playing injured in another one, Broyles produced 76 receptions for 964 yards and 12 touchdowns, finishing with at least seven catches in each of his last six games. He also was a talented returner who blew open the Oklahoma State game with an 88-yard punt return for a touchdown and 209 punt return yards for the game.
Defensive MVP Gerald McCoy
The anchor of the Oklahoma defense played up to his standards despite all of the injuries around him. McCoy persevered despite constant double-teams to notch 31 tackles, 14.5 tackles for losses and five sacks. His strong play will be challenged in the Sooners’ bowl game against Stanford, but look for him to be ready in what likely will be his last college game.
Turning point Sept. 5 vs. BYU
It came shortly before halftime in the Sooners’ season opener when BYU defensive end Coleby Clawson dumped Bradford on his right shoulder, leading to a sprained acromioclavicular joint. The Sooners lost that game and one against Miami three games later while Bradford recovered to kill their national title hopes. Bradford then rushed back into the lineup against Texas and re-injured the shoulder, ending the Sooners’ hopes of a four-peat of Big 12 championships.
The first challenge for the Sooners is to win the Brut Sun Bowl against Stanford, which would be important to snap a three-game bowl losing streak that has been an albatross around the Sooners’ program. All of the injuries this season forced the Sooners to use a young lineup. A returning group of Jones, DeMarco Murray, Broyles and others might get the Sooners back into contention in the South Division sooner rather than later.