It's not as if you can point to a single thing or person as the sole reason why Oklahoma was upset at home by Texas Tech this past weekend. No, you don't just fall behind 31-7 by the early part of the third quarter. A swirl of mistakes and circumstances made for the Red Raiders' 41-38 stunner at Owen Field. “They handily beat us in every part of the game,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “They came in here and totally beat us in all facets.”
1. Earth to Vegas: Tech's pretty good
Let's start by acknowledging the fact that, hey, Texas Tech is not a bad team. When Oklahoma opened as a 25-28-point favorite, it created an inflated sense of worth for OU – and a deflated sense of worth for Tech. Well, at least in the casual observer's mind. It likely infuriated the Red Raiders, who had played the previous two weeks with ranked teams before losing in the final minutes. Give Tech credit. It came and conquered where winning has literally been impossible for half a decade. They were impressive, executing a good plan on both sides of the ball.
2. Headstrong and underprepared
You'd think Oklahoma would have learned its lesson, what with numerous slow starts in the first six games due to overlooking opponents. Even lowly Kansas trailed by a touchdown in the final minute of the first half. The Sooners keep making the same mistake of preparing poorly, even after vowing – following the 38-28 win against Missouri – that it wouldn't happen again. It finally bit them Saturday. The difference from those other slow starts? Took to long to snap out of it. By the time OU did, it trailed by 24 in the third quarter. Too late. Being knocked from third to ninth in the BCS rankings should provide humility.
3. Injury bug 1, Sooners 0
You do have to consider the Sooners were without their starting running back, center, a defensive tackle, middle linebacker and cover corner. That's quite a bit to overcome, even if Tech still was not as talented as OU. The loss of Jamell Fleming at corner seemed most glaring. The senior never looked more important than when Tech's receivers regularly got behind the reserve corners. Dominique Whaley's bout with the flu seemed costly, too. His role in the offense is perhaps more integral than we might have realized.
4. Jumping the Sharks
Fleming or no, the Sooners' defense was exposed Saturday night. Even Demontre Hurst, who had been lauded in such high regard, was picked on by Seth Doege and Tech's receivers. Oklahoma had no awareness of when the ball was in the air – perhaps because no team had gone deep on the secondary that much. The Red Raiders seemed to see something on film to exploit, and they did so most of the night – enough to score 41 points without any direct help from turnovers.
5. Left more points on field
Oklahoma was twice inside the Tech 10, with goal to go. The second ended in a touchdown on first down, with a nice play-action throw to Trey Millard in the end zone. The first, though, was disaster. The Sooners had second-and-goal from the 1-yard line – 3 feet from the end zone – and Millard, playing tailback, was blown up in the backfield because of poor blocking up front. Jones recovered the fumble. He missed Trey Franks in the end zone on the next play, forcing a short Michael Hunnicutt kick. Four points left on the field, right there. OU now has 15 touchdowns in 24 goal-to-go situations.
6. Hunnicutt's misses
Did Hunnicutt lose the game for Oklahoma? No. But he didn't help the Sooners win, either. The 28-yard miss right all but crushed the chances of an improbable comeback and a miss left on a 39-yarder earlier in the night made moot a 15-play drive – the longest of the game for OU. Bob Stoops had bragged on Hunnicutt's leg, but he let the Sooners down in a game in which they needed him.
7. Turning third downs into first downs
Oklahoma was 5 of 17 on third-down conversions throughout the game, which isn't ghastly. But the Sooners failed to convert on three in a row to end the second quarter and another to begin the third, while Tech scored on four of five possessions to go up 24 points. OU couldn't stay on the field, forcing its defense to play more early – and tire late. The Sooners had the ball just 3 ½ minutes in a woeful second quarter. Strangely, OU was very bad on second-and-short, too. It would get close to a first down and then go in reverse until Tress Way (season-high seven punts) was again on the field.
8. Off day for Mr. Jones
Throwing for 412 yards and five touchdowns would suggest that Landry Jones had another great day at QB for the Sooners. But even Stoops acknowledged those numbers were misleading. Much of the yardage, and scores, were picked up late as OU threw deep on Tech's defense to try to erase the gap. In the early stages, as Tech was building its lead, Jones missed his receivers in literally every direction. The off-balance interception he threw in the second half was behind Kenny Stills. Some of the poor throws came under pressure, some were all on Jones' own.
9. Raindrops to receiver drops
It wasn't all Jones' fault. A handful of times, his receivers didn't make catches they normally would. It was a surprising development for a mostly sure-handed group. Jaz Reynolds had a couple of third-down catches go through his hands. He also had a chance to catch a late touchdown, which would have cut the lead to three. Also, we'll file Ryan Broyles' fumble in this category, as well. It was a forced drop after he gained possession.
10. Storm before the storm
Did it rain on both sides of the field? Was Tech smushed in a confined space during the delay? Yes. And yes. However, the 94-minute delay created a strange atmosphere for the ballgame, causing thousands to abandon the game altogether. No telling if the same things happen with the regularly scheduled 7 p.m. kick, but it's worth considering. The timing of it was so strange. Fine all day … but severe weather, right at kickoff.