TEMPE, Ariz. — Funny how a football season can feel simultaneously like a long and short interval of time.
In some senses, it feels like the fall dragged on for ages for Oklahoma. In some senses, we blinked and it was over.
Before we move forward, let's look back.
A few moments that, to me, defined the 2011 season.
Stills saves Sooners in Tallahassee (Sept. 17)
OU passed the first early-season test at Florida State, but it wasn't easy. The Seminoles had rallied to tie the game until two great fourth-quarter plays pushed the Sooners back in front for good.
Landry Jones' throw to Ryan Broyles on third-and-long was perhaps the best he made all year. He underthrew Kenny Stills on the next play, but Stills elevated to make the game-winning touchdown catch.
Fleming's strip-and-score in Dallas (Oct. 8)
Stoops joked Saturday that fans often tell him they'll always be happy with a season, so long as OU beats Texas. That was tested in 2011, to be sure.
The Sooners not only beat Texas; they lit up the Horns in a 55-17 victory.
And this was a (marginally) better Texas team, too. How demoralizing was it when Jamell Fleming ripped the ball from Mike Davis' arms and ran the other way for the touchdown? Talk about an exclamation on the day.
Broyles has his day in Kansas (Oct. 15)
Of course Broyles set the NCAA's career receptions record on a long touchdown. It was fitting.
What a career he had, a truly special player in the history of a storied program. He should teach a class on getting open. He does it better than anyone I've ever seen.
Red Raiders stun OU at Owen Field (Oct. 22)
Perhaps the most surprising loss of the college football season, or in Bob Stoops' career. How did Texas Tech, one of only two Big 12 teams that didn't go bowling, go up 31-7 at Owen Field when the Sooners hadn't lost there since 2005?
Weird, even now. More than anything, it showed OU struggled with bringing “it” week in and week out.
But Broyles' career has unhappy ending (Nov. 5)
Unfortunately, Broyles couldn't continue his march toward the NCAA career yardage record. Just one little juke against Texas A&M and that terrific career was over.
It was a heartbreaking snapshot, seeing Broyles weep on the sideline after being told he'd torn his left ACL. As we know now, the 2011 Sooners never really recovered, even if Broyles soon will.
RG3 has his “Heisman moment” (Nov. 19)
Sore spot, Sooners fans, I know. But it was perhaps one of the more indelible moments from the entire college football season, much less OU's year.
The Sooners were clinging to hopes of getting back into the national title hunt. They were gone in 50 seconds. Robert Griffin III led Baylor down the field with no timeouts to win the game – and, in effect, the Heisman. He had sort of slipped from contention for the award until that back-foot throw to the end zone.
Landry loses the ball in Bedlam (Dec. 3)
The single biggest what-the-heck moment of the season had to be Landry Jones having the ball slip from his hand early in the second half in Stillwater.
The rout was already on, but that moment had a real punch-in-the-gut quality to it. It illustrated the late-season woes with the offense. It hasn't happened much, but it showed it was Oklahoma State's year, too.
Postgame celebration in the desert (Dec. 30)
It ended well for the Sooners, at least. They won ugly against Iowa in the Insight Bowl, but what did you expect? Still plenty of hope for the future. OU figures to again contend for the Big 12 title in 2012.
I felt like it had been a long time since I'd seen a lot of the players, coaches and school officials smile like that. Going out on that note sure beat the alternative, I'm sure.
That's three consecutive bowl wins for OU, helping off-season momentum.
There were obviously many more moments, but I feel like those events moved the narrative of the season. I hope there were things you all enjoyed about the year. I know that's certainly true in my case. I've enjoyed my time here greatly already, and I'm excited knowing that we're just getting started.
Here's to 2012.