Oklahoma Sooners, No.16, ended their season positively with a 47-32 win over the No.14 Oregon Ducks in the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.
The Sooners (11-2) were led by interim head coach Bob Stoops, who returned for the bowl game after coaching from 1999 to 2016. Oklahoma called Stoops out of retirement after the surprising departure of former coach Lincoln Riley to USC.
The win was a nice reunion for Stoops, who won a national championship and ten Big 12 conference championships during his tenure with the Sooners. This 191st career win for coach Stoops improved his all-time bowl record to 10-9.
“I’ve been out of it, came back,” Stoops said. “It was fun. More than anything, I appreciate the young people; the guys in the program embraced me, were all-in, and worked hard.”
Along with preparing the Sooner players for the bowl game, Stoops was also responsible for stabilizing the program for incoming coach Brent Venables, an assistant under Stoops at Oklahoma for twelve seasons before spending the last nine seasons as an assistant coach at Clemson.
“They’re getting a guy with passion, a guy that loves the game, a winner,” Stoops said of Venables postgame.
Following Riley’s departure, the Oklahoma program was rocked further when several players transferred and prized recruits de-committed from the Oklahoma program to follow Riley to USC. Stoops appears to have done a great job, as the bowl win over Oregon will hopefully turn the page for Sooners past the recent turmoil and re-energize the program going into next season.
Oklahoma led a dominant run game that racked up 318 total rushing yards. Junior running back Kennedy Brooks, from Mansfield High School, was the bell-cow, gaining 142 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. The Sooners had an explosive first-half as they took a 30-3 lead into halftime.
The Sooners’ freshman quarterback Caleb Williams was more than efficient in the passing game. Williams completed 21 of 27 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns. His first passing touchdown was a six-yard pass to Drake Stoops, interim coach Stoops’ son.
Oregon (10-4) scored three touchdowns in the third quarter, making it a more competitive game in the second half, but the Sooners’ lead from the first half was too great to overcome. The Ducks were without several key players who opted out of the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft, including defensive end Kayvon Thibodeaux, a top-five NFL prospect.
Oregon was also led by an interim coach in Bryan McClendon after Mario Cristobal left the Ducks for Miami. Oregon has hired Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning as its next head coach. Lanning has stayed with the Georgia program as they prepare for the College Football Playoff semifinals.
New Oklahoma Sooners coach Brent Venables was at the game and has been around the team for a few weeks now. Venables will have a great chance of continuing Oklahoma’s success, especially with Williams — who illustrated tremendous potential during his freshman season this year — in the quarterback position.
“Oklahoma chose the right guy to come in here,” Williams said postgame of Venables.