Early prognosticators had Oklahoma’s Cotton Bowl matchup against Florida resulting in a blowout. They were right, of course, just not in the way they expected.
When word broke on Monday that the Gators would be without their top three pass catchers the Sooners swung from being three-point dogs to three-point favorites. Oklahoma dominated Florida in the Cotton Bowl, to the tune of a 55-20 beatdown, making that spread of just a field goal look absolutely ridiculous as Lincoln Riley picked up his first bowl win as a head coach.
The party poopers were out early though as efforts have been, are being, and will be made to downplay Oklahoma’s domination of the S.E.C. runner-up. Before Kyle Trask could even throw his third interception the prepackaged Florida excuse train was already in motion. The Gators just couldn’t be competitive with the missing receivers. You’ll have to excuse the Sooner Nation for not jumping on board though, or even offering any sympathy.
Few teams know better than Oklahoma what it is like to go into a bowl game without key players. We could easily point out last season’s Peach Bowl loss to LSU as an example. The Sooners where shot more than a half dozen guys when they went to Atlanta to take on the Bayou Bengals. Yet the narrative wasn’t about the missing guys for the crimson and cream, it was all about how good LSU was.
Don’t get me wrong here. That LSU squad was a generational talent and weren’t going to get beaten. The point is, they weren’t wrong to talk about how good the Tigers looked that night and they certainly wouldn’t be wrong to talk about how dominant Oklahoma looked on Wednesday night either.
Consider this for just a moment. Florida had five key players missing at the Cotton Bowl. Four were on offense and one was on defense. None of those guys would have slowed the Sooners from the track meet they put on at AT&T Stadium. Explain to me how Kyle Pitts would have kept OU from averaging 10.9 yards per rushing attempt.
The Sooners set a program record with 55 points scored in the bowl game, but even more damning of how much more the Gators were at the mercy of their opponent instead of missing players was the Cotton Bowl record of 435 yards gained on the ground.
Talk all you want about offensive woes but when seldom used running back Marcus Major goes off for 110 yards on just 9 carries then the offense wasn’t the reason you lost. Oklahoma set records against a historically bad Florida defense on Wednesday night and that’s the big story here. The Gators were never going to get help defensively and they’ll never find an Oklahoma fan to feel sorry for them about it either.
The Sooners and Gators were just playing ball on two different levels Wednesday night, and it wasn’t even close.
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