Oklahoma's 2012-13 season got off to a slow start, hit speed bumps with home losses to Kansas State and Notre Dame, and then ended with a thud Friday, when the Sooners lost 41-13 in the Cotton Bowl to Texas A&M.
The Sooners finished 10-3 and co-champions of the Big 12 Conference.
Here's a look back, and a look ahead:
Offensive MVP: Landry Jones, senior quarterback
Jones' college career ended in disappointment, but that shouldn't overshadow the impact he's had on Oklahoma's program and 2012-13 season. The four-year starting quarterback completed 66 percent of his passes this season for 4,267 yards and 30 touchdowns, with 11 interceptions. Jones' costly turnovers were ultimately the difference in an early season loss to Kansas State, but he was mostly outstanding the rest of the season. His career ends with 16,646 passing yards and 123 touchdowns.
Defensive MVP: Aaron Colvin, junior cornerback
Colvin narrowly edges fellow safety Tony Jefferson as the Sooners' most valuable defensive player. Oklahoma's secondary struggled late in the season against high-powered offenses; neither Colvin nor Jefferson were blameless, but still were clearly the top players on OU's defense. Colvin moved back to cornerback from safety before the season and was stellar early. Another college season and he could become a first-round NFL Draft prospect. He finished his junior year with 61 tackles, two sacks and four interceptions.
Biggest surprise: Jalen Saunders, junior receiver
Saunders transferred from Fresno State last May. The NCAA initially denied immediate eligibility for Saunders, a former first-team All-WAC selection, but the decision was overturned on appeal a few days before Oklahoma's fifth game in October. He made a quick impact on Oklahoma's offense in the slot, finishing the year with 62 catches, 829 yards and three touchdowns in nine games. He's due Tuesday in court to face a misdemeanor charge for marijuana possession, stemming from an early morning traffic stop Dec. 2 with sophomore defensive back Cortez Johnson.
Biggest disappointment: Late-season defense
Oklahoma's defense — in its first year since defensive coordinator Mike Stoops' return — allowed season totals of 5,178 yards and 331 points. But over half the points (172) and nearly half the yards (2,325) came in four late-season contests, shootout wins over Baylor, West Virginia and Oklahoma State, and Friday's embarrassing Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M. Stoops tinkered with varying personnel groups, but none seemed to stop those high-powered offenses from having their way.
Best win: Texas (Oct. 13, Dallas)
Oklahoma blew the Longhorns out of Cotton Bowl Stadium for the fourth time of Bob Stoops' 14-year tenure, 63-21. The Sooner defense played spectacular, Blake Bell scored four touchdowns and Damien Williams busted off a Red River Rivalry record 95-yard touchdown run that opened the floodgates. Two of Texas' touchdowns came late in the fourth quarter against OU reserves.
Worst loss: Texas A&M (Jan. 4, Arlington, Texas)
Oklahoma and Texas A&M weren't expected to see each other again so soon after the Aggies' departure for the SEC, but the schools were matched up for what looked like it would be an exciting Cotton Bowl game. Texas A&M led 14-13 at halftime, and outscored the Sooners 27-0 in the second half on the arms and legs of Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel's brilliant performance. The freshman quarterback rushed for 229 yards, passed for 287 and scored four touchdowns.
Strongest unit entering 2013: Wide receivers
Senior Justin Brown is gone, and Kenny Stills may choose to skip his senior season and enter the NFL Draft, which would leave OU without its top two receivers from the 2012-13 season. Still, the unit looks strong for the foreseeable future. Saunders will return, and freshmen Sterling Shepard and Durron Neal each showed flashes of their capabilities. With another spring, Trey Metoyer, who was expected to have an immediate impact, could begin to reach his high potential. Another freshman, Derrick Woods, redshirted but shined on the scout team. Plus, OU has two receivers committed for its class of 2013, and is still in the running for five-star prospect Laquon Treadwell.
Weakest unit entering 2013: Defensive line
Oklahoma's senior-dominated defensive line struggled for much of the 2012-13 season, and leaves behind an inexperienced group with lots of question marks. Chuka Ndulue will be the unit's only returning starter, and Geneo Grissom, who began the season at tight end, looks like the favorite to claim the other defensive end spot. Talented but raw freshmen Michael Onuoha and Charles Tapper, along with junior Chaz Nelson, sophomore Rashod Favors and redshirt freshman P.L. Lindley, all could earn playing time with solid offseason improvements. At defensive tackle, the situation is far more grim; Oklahoma returns virtually no experience at the position. Jordan Phillips played some this season, but remains extremely raw. Expect junior-college transfer Quincy Russell, who has already signed and will be with the team for spring football, to immediately see playing time.
Biggest offseason storyline: Quarterback battle
The defense's problems aren't going away, and are certainly an important offseason storyline. But for the first time since the 2007 season, Oklahoma enters a spring with an open quarterback competition. Blake Bell, known for his popular short-yardage package, was Landry Jones' backup this season and will enter the spring as the favorite to replace him. But true freshman Trevor Knight, who redshirted this season, shined on the scout team and will definitely have an opportunity to start next season. If junior Drew Allen chooses to stick around — he could, under certain circumstances, transfer to another FBS school without having to sit out a season — he'll probably have something to say about Bell's automatic assumption of the OU quarterback job, too.