Oklahoma football: Playing the Northern Illinois what-if game
When the bowl assignments came out on Dec. 2, the Sooners felt maligned. Northern Illinois’ ascension into the BCS’ top 16 gave the Huskies a spot in the Orange Bowl and knocked OU out of the Sugar Bowl.
The Sooners didn’t know the half of it.
Look how different the world would look if Northern Illinois had checked in at No. 17 in the BCS.
OU would have played Florida in the Sugar Bowl.
Texas would have played Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl, unless DeLoss Dodds had pulled enough strings to avoid the Aggies.
We have no idea what would have happened with such matchups. But we have a pretty good idea.
The Sooners likely would have thumped offensively-challenged Florida. Louisville did pop the Gators, 33-23 in a Sugar Bowl that wasn’t near that close.
A&M would have routed the Longhorns except no mercy would have been shown. The Ags let up on the Sooners in a Cotton Bowl that was 41-13 early in the fourth quarter and stayed that way.
Instead, Texas went to the Alamo Bowl and beat a good Oregon State team 31-27, and the Longhorns feel pretty good about themselves.
Meanwhile, the Sooners are licking their wounds while their fans take to the streets in sackcloth and ashes.
But perhaps OU owes Northern Illinois a big thank you. If the Sooners had beaten Florida in the Sugar Bowl, OU would be 11-2, with losses to two top-10 teams, a victory over the No. 3 team in the nation and everyone would be decking the halls with boughs of holly.
Yet the Sooners would not be any better team, or the program in any better shape, just because they got a better bowl draw. The Cotton Bowl exposed some serious flaws in Soonerville – and that’s a good thing. Can’t go pretending everything is fine after losing 41-13. Bob Stoops now must address some serious issues that might get swept aside after an 11-2 season.
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