Norman – Oklahoma fans don’t want to hear about their team going to a mini bowl game.
But going to a bowl – any bowl – one won’t hit him.
This is where Oklahoma finds itself 10 games into the 2022 season: mired in the brunt of a 5-5 season, with big games still to come against Oklahoma State this week and Texas Tech next week. Win one contest and quickly become a bowl qualifier with six wins. Win both, and a 7-5 season — with the potential for an 8-win season with a bowl game win — is possible.
And that’s it. After two and a half months of football, that’s the limit for Brent Venables’ first team.
“It’s definitely important,” said Defensive Coordinator Ted Roof. “It’s a big deal.”
There are different levels of great.
For one, Oklahoma has a streak of 23 consecutive years with a winning record. Only Boise State is 24 longer. Nobody at Norman wanted this to end – especially on Venables’ first watch.
Second, the current bowl streak that began in 1999 also stands at 23 in a row—two fewer than Georgia’s 25 in a row.
And the third — and this is arguable — is that finishing the season strong and making it to the post-season and winning a bowl game can create momentum for the following season.
12 large pot ties
Here are the bowl ties for the Big 12 Conference in 2022:
- College Football Playoff
- Allstate Sugar Bowl
- Valero Alamo Bowl
- Cheese It Ball
- TaxAct Texas Bowl
- Liberty Auto Zone bowl
- Guaranteed pot rate
- Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl or SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
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Looking back, beating Oregon’s lame ducks in the Alamo Bowl last December didn’t exactly create a lot of momentum for rookies in 2022, did it?
The real prize, of course, is to practice in December. The NCAA allows 15 more workouts for teams that make it to a bowl game—and this Oklahoma team clearly needs as much practice as possible.
“The importance of bowl game play, there are a lot of things that go into that,” OU offensive coordinator Jeff Libby said Monday. “But with a first-year staff, obviously, I think the most important thing is more time with our guys. That’s the first thing that comes to mind.”
“It’s going to be awkward, you know?” Defensive coordinator Ted Roof said “Absolutely. Because those reps — man, those reps are like gold for everybody. But especially the young players, who — it helps them launch from a different point in the offseason, rather than launch it from here, these extra reps.” They let them run from here. And that’s crucial.”
Of course, Oklahoma State gets in the way first. The Bedlam 22 game kicks off at 6:30 p.m. on national television, and the Sooners opened Monday as a 5.5-point favorite — a streak that quickly moved to 7.
“It’s very important that we go 1-0 this week,” said Lippi. Finding a way to get it done on Saturday is something we need to happen.”
Roofe echoed: “We have to finish strong, but we got this this week and that’s Bedlam and everything connected with that. That’s the focus, is to play well enough to win this game – plan our best to win this game.”
As for momentum, Venables pointed out last week that OU lost its final game to Ole Miss in the Independence Bowl in Bob Stoops’ rookie season back in 1999, but then went 13-0 the following year.
But this Oklahoma team is sitting on a two-game losing streak. Stumbling in the stretch to a 6-6 record wouldn’t be good for any idea of momentum, especially if they lost the ball game and ended up 6-7. Even going 7-5 isn’t particularly good if the final score is 7-6.
Of course, thanks to Saturday’s 23-20 loss to West Virginia, the ghost of a 5-7 looms over the team now, too.
“When you play well during the year and win at the end of the year, you carry the momentum into your program in the offseason,” said Roof. “It carries momentum in recruiting, in the offseason program, spring ball, all things. You want to end anything on a good note, not a negative result.”