Too little, too late for OU vs. Texas Tech

NORMAN, Okla. -- Moments before scheduled kickoff, lightning cascaded through the Oklahoma sky, surrounding Owen Field. Perhaps an omen of what was to come.

Texas Tech, unranked and unheralded, stunned undefeated OU 41-38 Saturday night, effectively ending the Sooners' chase for an eighth national championship on a field where they previously seemed unbeatable.

But Tech beat the Sooners -- and soundly, too. Sure, OU made a game of it. But only after trailing 31-7 in the third quarter.

"We had a chance late to have a chance to win," Bob Stoops said. "But it was too little, too late."

The Sooners were fortunate just to have a chance to have a chance. OU was out-tackled, out-quarterbacked, out-blocked, out-kicked and outcoached.

"They whipped us in every part of the game," Stoops said. "Just flat-out beat us. Defensively, we really got outplayed. And offensively, just too little, too late."

Credit the Sooners for fighting. Despite getting smacked around, they had opportunities at the end to send the game to overtime. But the "Sooner Magic" fumed out late in the fourth quarter after Michael Hunnicutt's 28-yard field goal attempt clanged off the right upright, his second miss of the night. Fitting OU's rally would end with a field goal try. But on this night, special teams were the least of the Sooners' problems.

Tech quarterback Seth Doege gouged the Sooners secondary with 441 yards passing and four touchdowns with no turnovers. The absence of cornerback Jamell Fleming, who days ago underwent minor knee surgery, hurt as Doege picked on replacement Gabe Lynn downfield to the point the Sooners had to pull Lynn from the field and move safety Aaron Colvin to corner. But Doege did about as much damage to Demontre Hurst, who in the fourth quarter surrendered two fade route completions, including the touchdown that put Tech up 41-24 with 7:23 to play.

"They hit us with fade ball after fade ball," said defensive coordinator Brent Venables. "Nothing is going to work when that's happening."

The slip screen was just as devastating. On Tech's opening drive, Alex Torres popped the Sooners with a 44-yard touchdown catch and run off the screen. Then in the second quarter, he popped them again on the same play from 30 yards out. Neither time did the Sooners lay a hand on him.

"We got whipped," said linebacker Travis Lewis. "We couldn't stop the run. We couldn't stop the throw. They got whatever they wanted on us."

Including 572 yards of offense. And 27 first downs.

"They flat out beat us," said defensive end Frank Alexander. "Wasn't nothing special they were doing."

On the other side of the ball, OU quarterback Landry Jones seemed discombobulated through three quarters. He sailed passes over his receivers. Threw behind them. Even underthrew a couple. Jones' final numbers were tremendous: 412 yards, five passing touchdowns. But much of that came during desperation time. And even then, Jones misfired on some passes.

"Overall, very uncharacteristic," Stoops said. "He just wasn't very accurate and forced it sometimes. They covered us well, give them credit on a lot of it. But some of it, too, he just missed some people or wasn't as accurate as he usually is."

Stoops maintained his team wasn't flat coming out of the locker room following a 94-minute delay.

"I thought those guys had energy," he said, attributing the first half funk to a poor week of practice and preparation.

But All-America wideout Ryan Broyles admitted he felt the Sooners have been flat since hammering Texas two weeks ago.

"We weren't ready to play," he said. "Honestly, I can't put my finger on it."

The Sooners have a week to figure it out. On deck looms a road trip to 7-0 Kansas State, which better believe won't come out flat for its biggest home game in more than a decade.

"Kansas State will beat the living heck out of us if we don't make improvement," Stoops said. "If we don't play better, everyone the rest of year will whip us."

Barring total collapse, the Sooners will play better. And if they do, another Big 12 title remains achievable. So does a BCS bowl.

But a national championship? Too little. Much too late.

Jake Trotter covers University of Oklahoma football for SoonerNation. He can be reached at trotterjake@gmail.com. and look for answers every Friday.

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