It was how they gave up those yards and points that illustrated just how far Oklahoma had fallen in its final few games. The Sooners finished the season ninth in the Big 12 in rushing defense, allowing 192.2 yards on the ground per game.
They gave up an average of 5.2 yards per rush to opponents, and the lack of a true identity on defense left Stoops grasping for ideas at times.
“We were probably too predictable as the year went on in our inability to stop the run,” Stoops said. “If you can’t stop the run, it becomes very difficult to play good defense, and our inability to consistently stop the run down the stretch was frustrating.
“We want to make good on that, and certainly that will play into our chances to be in the thick of things, competing for another championship.”
Oklahoma won five straight games entering the Cotton Bowl, but it relied heavily on its offense to overcome challenges from Baylor (42-34), West Virginia (50-49) and rival Oklahoma State (51-48 in overtime).
The most difficult game defensively — and unfortunately memorable for the Sooners — was the win over the Mountaineers. West Virginia gained 778 yards of total offense in the game, including a 344-yard rushing effort by Tavon Austin.