Oklahoma   s Jackson Arnold (10) warms up before an NCAA football game between University of Oklahoma (OU) and Iowa State at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023.

Alamo Bowl: No. 12 Oklahoma, with freshman QB, takes on hot No. 14 Arizona

No. 12 Oklahoma will begin a new era at quarterback while No. 14 Arizona will be trying to match its longest winning streak in 25 years when the teams meet Thursday in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.

The Sooners (10-2) narrowly missed playing in a New Year’s Six bowl matchup, while the Wildcats (9-3) come in as one of the nation’s biggest surprises, having won six consecutive games.

“They play with incredible passion and energy,” Oklahoma coach Brent Venables said of Arizona. “They play with great confidence. They know what they’re doing. You’re going to have to earn everything that you get.”

Nationally, the storyline is Oklahoma true freshman quarterback Jackson Arnold, a consensus 2023 five-star recruit who will step in for Dillon Gabriel, who is transferring to Oregon for his final season.

Arnold, a dual threat who will be leading the Sooners from the Big 12 into the Southeastern Conference next season, has appeared in six games as a backup, completing 18 of 24 passes for 202 yards and two touchdowns.

Arnold will have ample weapons, including wide receivers Drake Stoops (78 catches, 880 yards, 10 TDs), Nic Anderson (31, 725, nine) and Jalil Farooq (41, 637, two), among others, as well as running back Gawin Sawchuk (610 yards, 5.8 per carry).

One question will be the offensive line. Left guard Cayden Green ransferred to Missouri, while center Andrew Raym and right tackle Tyler Guyton declared for the NFL draft.

“We’re going to practice what we saw on the film,” Arizona defensive coordinator Johnny Nansen said. “I don’t think they’re going to install a brand-new offense in three weeks. They still have great players.”

On defense, the Sooners lost safety Key Lawrence (transferring to Ole Miss) but return star junior linebacker Danny Stutsman (99 tackles, 16 for loss).

Arizona, playing its final game as a member of the Pac-12, is mostly intact, losing only senior left tackle Jordan Morgan (preparing for NFL draft) and has a young team that could very well be the preseason Big 12 favorite in 2024.

That starts with quarterback Noah Fifita. Taking over in the fourth quarter of the fourth game of the season, the redshirt freshman is eighth nationally in passing efficiency, completing 217 of 295 passes for 2,515 yards with 23 touchdowns and five interceptions.

His former Servite High School teammate in Anaheim, Calif., sophomore receiver Tetairoa McMillan, has caught 80 passes for 1,242 yards and 10 touchdowns. At 6-foot-5, he’s a matchup problem with the look of a future first-rounder.

Each team has big-time offense — Oklahoma averages 502.4 yards per game (fifth in FBS); Arizona is at 453.4 (17th) — but the Wildcats’ defense has made big strides this season. Arizona has improved to 37th nationally in total defense (340.9 yards per game) after ranking 124th last season (467.7).

Undersized but active linebacker Jacob Manu (108 tackles, 9.5 for loss) is one to watch.

After coach Jedd Fisch took over in 2021, Arizona’s losing streak reached 20 games during that season. Now, just over two years later, the Wildcats are trying to win seven games in a row for the first time since 1998 and post double-digit victories in a season for just the fourth time.

Oklahoma is making its 25th consecutive bowl appearance. This is Arizona’s first bowl game since 2017, a 38-35 loss to Purdue in the Foster Farms Bowl in Santa Clara, Calif.

“We want to make sure that our players understand it is a privilege to play in a bowl game,” Fisch said. “It is a celebration of a job well done.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 24, 2023; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) celebrates with running back Gavin Sawchuk (27) after a touchdown during the game against the TCU Horned Frogs  at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bryan Terry-USA TODAY Sports

Dillon Gabriel passes No. 13 Oklahoma past TCU

Dillon Gabriel threw for 400 yards and three touchdowns to lift No. 13 Oklahoma to a 69-45 win over TCU on Friday in Norman, Okla.

Gabriel moved into seventh place in NCAA career passing yards in the win, passing three players including former Sooners’ quarterback Baker Mayfield on the list.

Gabriel now has 14,865 career passing yards.

The Sooners’ 69 points were their most in a conference game since beating Texas A&M 77-0 in 2003.

Oklahoma (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) kept its hopes alive to make the Big 12 Championship Game by recording its third straight win.

Friday’s game was the Sooners’ final Big 12 regular-season game. They’ll move to the Southeastern Conference next season.

The loss leaves the Horned Frogs short of a bowl berth just one season after making the College Football Playoff title game.

TCU (5-7, 3-6) lost four of its last five games.

After being injured a week ago in a win at BYU, Gabriel’s status was up in the air in a short week.

But Gabriel showed little effects of the injury from the start.

He completed a 50-yard pass on the first drive to set up his own 8-yard touchdown run, then later in the first connected with Jayden Gibson for a 59-yard score.

His 53-yard touchdown to Brenen Thompson started a second-quarter onslaught for the Sooners, who scored 28 points in the quarter and shut down the Horned Frogs’ offense to take a 42-16 lead into the break.

But TCU didn’t go away, pulling within 14 in the third quarter.

Oklahoma finally put the game away in the fourth quarter, going up 62-38 on Gavin Sawchuk’s 9-yard touchdown run.

Sawchuk, who finished with 22 carries for 130 yards, scored three touchdowns for his first career multi-touchdown game.

Drake Stoops had 12 catches for 125 yards and a touchdown.

Emani Bailey rushed for 150 yards and a touchdown for TCU while Josh Hoover threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns.

Oklahoma’s Billy Bowman returned an interception for a score for the second consecutive game, bringing back his pick of Hoover 45 yards for a score in the fourth quarter.

Bowman leads the Big 12 with six interceptions, returning three for touchdowns.

–Field Level Media

Nov 18, 2023; Provo, Utah, USA; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Jayden Gibson (1) reacts to a play against the Brigham Young Cougars in the first quarter at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

No. 14 Oklahoma survives loss of QB Dillon Gabriel, defeats BYU

After Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel was injured Saturday, freshman Jackson Arnold proved to be a steady hand, guiding the No. 14 Sooners to a 31-24 victory over host BYU at Provo, Utah.

Taking over after Gabriel went down with a head injury late in the first half, Arnold was 5 of 9 for 33 yards passing and rushed for 24 yards on eight carries as Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) won its second consecutive game after back-to-back defeats. Gavin Sawchuk scored the go-ahead score for the Sooners midway through the fourth quarter.

Gabriel was 13-of-21 passing for 191 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, while guiding the Sooners to a 17-14 lead. The game was tied 17-17 at the half.

Jake Retzlaff was 15-of-26 passing for BYU with 173 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Aidan Robbins had 182 yards rushing for the Cougars (5-6, 2-6), who lost their fourth consecutive game and have dropped five of their last six in conference play.

The Sooners broke the tie game with 5:55 remaining in the third quarter when Billy Bowman intercepted a short Retzlaff pass and returned it 100 yards.

Retzlaff rebounded on the Cougars’ next possession and tied the score 24-all, leading an eight-play, 75-yard drive that ended when he scored a touchdown on a 10-yard run with 1:19 left in the third.

Arnold led his only scoring drive in the fourth quarter, taking the Sooners 25 yards in three plays after Jacob Lacey recovered a Retzlaff fumble with 8:43 remaining. Oklahoma’s Danny Stutsman forced the fumble on a sack.

The Sooners went ahead when Sawchuk scored on a 16-yard run with 7:57 remaining for a 31-24 lead. Sawchuk finished with 107 yards on 14 carries.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) runs the ball against the Kansas Jayhawks during the first half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Sooners’ title hopes, Dillon Gabriel’s Heisman odds pummeled in upset

With a rare miss from their highly accurate quarterback, the Oklahoma Sooners saw their national championship hopes dashed in Lawrence, Kan., on Saturday.

Dillon Gabriel’s Heisman Trophy aspirations also sailed away when his desperation throw to Austin Stogner on the final play of No. 6 Oklahoma’s 38-33 loss to Kansas was batted out of the back of the end zone.

Shortly after the game, DraftKings released updated odds for the Sooners, who went from +1400 to win the College Football Playoff to a +4000 longshot. Gabriel, who entered Saturday with the fifth-shortest Heisman odds at the book, skyrocketed from +1000 to +3000.

The Sooners suffered their first loss of the season, falling to 7-1. They have four regular-season games remaining, beginning with next week’s rivalry game at Oklahoma State. Oklahoma then plays host to West Virginia before traveling to BYU and returning home to face TCU.

“Turned the ball over, penalties — the timing of all of it was really poor,” Oklahoma coach Brent Venables said after the Kansas loss. “As I told them, we’re not going to be defined by any one win or any loss. We have a lot still in front of us. But this one hurts. It stings.”

Oklahoma scored 33 points on Saturday, but most of the Sooners’ offensive production came via the ground in their first loss in Lawrence since 1997.

Gabriel was 14-of-19 passing for only 171 yards and failed to throw a touchdown while being intercepted once. Oklahoma scored all five of its touchdowns on the ground, where it racked up 269 yards on 55 carries.

He had slowly crept up the Heisman boards while others fell by the wayside, entering Saturday behind only fellow quarterbacks J.J. McCarthy (+240) of Michigan, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. (+320), LSU’s Jayden Daniels (+340) and Florida State’s Jordan Travis (+800).

However, Gabriel’s Heisman hopes all but evaporated on a cold and rainy day in Kansas.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks running back Devin Neal (4) runs the ball as Oklahoma Sooners linebacker Danny Stutsman (28) and defensive back Kendel Dolby (15) make the tackle during the first half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas scores with 55 seconds left to stun No. 6 Oklahoma

Devin Neal ran for 112 yards, including a 9-yard go-ahead touchdown in the final minute, to lift host Kansas to a 38-33 upset win over No. 6 Oklahoma on Saturday in Lawrence.

It was Kansas’ first win over the Sooners since 1997 and it ended their unbeaten start.

Kanas quarterback Jason Bean had thrown interceptions on each of the previous two drives, but after the Jayhawks’ defense came up with a big stop to get the ball back with 2:15 remaining, Bean went to work.

He hit Lawrence Arnold for a 37-yard pass on fourth-and-six to set up Neal’s 9-yard touchdown run a play later with 55 seconds remaining.

Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) quickly drove inside the Kansas 30 but Dillon Gabriel’s desperation heave was batted out of the back of the end zone as time expired to give the Jayhawks (6-2, 3-2) bowl eligibility for the second consecutive season.

The lead changed hands five times in the second half.

Bean threw for 218 yards as Kansas outgained the Sooners 443-436.

Tawee Walker rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown and Gabriel ran for three more, but Walker was banged up in the second half and Oklahoma wasn’t able to run the ball consistently after that.

That was particularly evident after Ethan Downs’ interception gave the ball back to the Sooners with 2:29 left. OU tried three consecutive running plays, gaining a total of three yards before being forced to punt, opening the door for Kansas’ game-winning drive.

Gabriel struggled through the air, going 14 of 19 for 167 yards on a cold, rainy day.

The Jayhawks took the lead early on Mello Dotson’s 37-yard interception return for a touchdown less than six minutes into the game.

Kansas then extended the lead to 14-0 early in the second quarter on Daniel Hishaw’s 9-yard touchdown run.

Oklahoma began to gain some momentum after that, moving the ball on the ground effectively as rain started falling. Gabriel capped off the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to put the Sooners on the board.

Walker, suspended for last week’s win over UCF, had five carries on the drive.

After a quick defensive stop, Oklahoma kept up its momentum on the ground, feeding the ball to Walker for four consecutive plays to pick up two first downs.

But the momentum was stalled when lightning sent both teams to the locker room for a delay that lasted nearly an hour.

–Field Level Media

OU's Davis Beville (11), General Booty (14), Oklahoma's Dillon Gabriel (8) and Jackson Arnold (10) link arms before the college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners and the University of Central Florida Knights at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct., 21, 2023.

No. 6 Oklahoma seeking 19th straight win over Kansas

Oklahoma coach Brent Venables likes to run a scout-team quarterback against his defense during practice.

He had some help earlier this week as the No. 6 Sooners prepared to visit Kansas in Big 12 play Saturday in Lawrence.

General Booty split reps with starter Dillon Gabriel as Oklahoma (7-0, 4-0) got ready to face either Jalon Daniels or Jason Bean at quarterback for the Jayhawks (5-2, 2-2).

“They’ve got two, we’ve got two,” Venables said.

Kansas coach Lance Leipold said Monday that Daniels, who hasn’t played since Sept. 23, was “doubtful to questionable” to play against the Sooners.

“He’s making progress,” Leipold said. “It’s still not where it needs to go. … I would expect Jason Bean to be the starting quarterback. and that’s the direction we’re heading.”

The Jayhawks are coming off a bye week after dropping two of their last three without Daniels, though Bean did throw for 410 yards and five touchdowns in a shootout loss at Oklahoma State on Oct. 14.

“I feel that sometimes when I answer these questions because when you’re talking about someone like Jalon it’s like, ‘Hurry up and get back here because this other guy can’t get it done,’” Leipold said. “I don’t feel that’s the case (here).”

The Sooners escaped with a 31-29 win over UCF last Saturday.

Venables said last week that the Knights and Jayhawks were two of the best teams in the country at deception.

Oklahoma didn’t always handle UCF’s deception well.

“What I like is that we found a way to win and overcome some of our mistakes,” Venables said. “But we’ve got great ownership of both the good and the bad, and that’s allowed the growth process to take place. … Our job is to fix some of those mistakes and the issues that we had and make sure our guys are comfortable with what we need and want them to do to execute at a high level.”

Oklahoma has won 18 consecutive games in the series, with Kansas’ most recent victory over the Sooners coming in 1997.

There have been some close games recently, though, including the last time Oklahoma played in Lawrence.

In 2021, the Jayhawks led 10-0 at halftime and 17-14 going into the fourth quarter before the Sooners stormed to a 35-23 win.

In that game, Kansas opened the gates at halftime, hoping to draw fans in for the second half after the first half was played in front of a small crowd.

That doesn’t figure to be the case Saturday, when the Jayhawks are looking to pull off a big upset and clinch bowl eligibility for the second consecutive season.

“It’s a testament to how much they’ve improved over the last two years,” Oklahoma wide receiver Drake Stoops said. “People like watching good football, and they’re a good football team, so it’s gonna be a sold-out stadium.”

The Sooners figure to have running back Tawee Walker back after Walker missed last week’s game due to an in-house suspension.

Leipold said Tuesday that two players — backup tackle Logan Brown and safety Andrew Russell — had undergone season-ending surgeries.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) in action during the game between the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

No. 6 Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel reunites for UCF game

Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel acknowledges it’ll be unusual going against UCF on Saturday when his No. 6 Sooners host the Knights in Big 12 Conference play in Norman, Okla.

“I think now I’m just kind of settling into (the fact) college football is what it is,” said Gabriel, who played his first three seasons for UCF from 2019-21. “Once you think one thing, it’ll turn into a whole ‘nother.”

Gabriel is one of the biggest reasons why the Sooners (6-0, 3-0) are in the position they’re in. He has completed 72.3 percent of his throws with 16 touchdown passes and just two interceptions this season.

“When we had him, every day in practice, he would make a throw that you’d go, ‘Wow,’” Knights coach Gus Malzahn said. “His accuracy. He’s a veteran guy now, too. Think about all the snaps he’s played. You can see when you watch him on film. He’s got really good command. He knows when to throw the ball away. He’s got great courage. He’ll wait until the last second, get the ball out.”

Gabriel was hours away from transferring to UCLA from UCF two years ago before flipping to Oklahoma, where he’s reunited with Jeff Lebby, his offensive coordinator with the Knights in his freshman season of 2019.

But while Gabriel knew Lebby was going to be calling the plays, the rest of the roster was less certain.

“I told him I couldn’t make any promises about who was going to be here or who wasn’t,” Sooners coach Brent Venables said. “I was going to try to keep the roster as-is, so he’d have to come knowing that. I wasn’t going to be misleading or things of that nature. I wanted him to come here and feel good about his opportunity. He bet on himself, when it was all said and done … and it worked out really well for all of us.”

While Gabriel has fueled the Sooners’ hot start, quarterback play also has been a deciding factor for the Knights (3-3, 0-3).

John Rhys Plumlee has missed most of the last four games with a leg injury, contributing to UCF’s rough initiation to Big 12 play.

Plumlee played briefly at Kansas on Oct. 7 before leaving the game having thrown just seven passes.

Malzahn said Plumlee would start against the Sooners after he made significant progress during the Knights’ bye week.

“I’d say he’s close to 100 percent, so don’t expect any issues moving forward,” Malzahn said.

Saturday’s matchup will feature the top two offenses in the Big 12, with UCF averaging 516.7 yards per game and the Sooners 506.

The two teams have done it in a much different way, though, with the Knights’ biggest strength being their ground game — averaging 246.3 rushing yards — and the Sooners’ being their passing attack, which has averaged 341.2 yards per game.

The meeting will be the first between the programs and their only meeting in the Big 12 before the Sooners make the leap to the SEC next season.

–Field Level Media

Oct 7, 2023; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Dillon Gabriel (8) runs for a touchdown during the first half against the Texas Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Dillon Gabriel powers No. 12 Oklahoma past No. 3 Texas

Dillon Gabriel threw for 285 yards and a touchdown, ran for 113 yards and another score and led a last-minute touchdown drive to lift No. 12 Oklahoma to a 34-30 win over No. 3 Texas on Saturday in Dallas.

Texas took a 30-27 lead with 1:17 remaining on Bert Auburn’s 47-yard field goal.

Gabriel quickly engineered a drive to set up Oklahoma in Longhorns’ territory. As pressure closed in around him, Gabriel flipped the ball to Nic Anderson in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown with 15 seconds remaining to lift the Sooners (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) into the lead.

Texas made it interesting in the final seconds, as Quinn Ewers launched a pass near the goal line as time ran out but the Sooners’ defense batted it down to preserve the victory.

Texas’ Jonathan Brooks ran for 129 yards and a touchdown, much of it late, and Ewers threw for 346 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions.

Last season, Gabriel missed the game against Texas, and Oklahoma lost 49-0.

The game could be the first of two meetings between the teams, with a matchup December’s Big 12 Championship Game a possibility.

The Longhorns (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) trailed 27-20 early in the fourth quarter after the Sooners stopped Texas on four consecutive plays near the goal line.

Oklahoma quickly drove into Texas territory, but the drive stalled and Zach Schmit missed a 45-yard field goal to leave the door open.

Brooks capped Texas’ next drive with a 29-yard touchdown run to tie it 27-27 before the defense once again came up with a stop.

Auburn’s field goal put the Longhorns ahead, but then Gabriel went to work.

The game was a wild one from the start, kicked off with an interception by Oklahoma’s Gentry Williams on the second play of the game.

Five plays later, Gabriel ran it in from 9 yards out to get the scoring started.

The Sooners intercepted Ewers again on the Longhorns’ second drive, ending what had been a promising drive.

Texas’ defense then came up big, forcing Oklahoma to punt from their end zone. Kitan Crawford blocked the punt and it bounced off the ground right into the arms of Malik Muhammad for the touchdown.

Texas took its first lead early in the second quarter when Ewers found a wide open Gunnar Helm for a 22-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-one to put the Longhorns up 14-10.

The Sooners answered right back with a quick touchdown drive to regain the lead.

The teams then traded field goals to end the half, with the Sooners narrowly missing out on a touchdown just before half after Tawee Walker’s drop near the goal line. But Zach Schmit hit a 26-yard field goal to send Oklahoma into halftime with a 20-17 lead.

Oklahoma started the second half with a 13-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by Walker’s second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) looks to throw as Oklahoma Sooners defensive lineman Isaiah Coe (94) chases during the game at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Oklahoma and No. 3 Texas renew Red River Rivalry

Both Texas coach Steve Sarkisian and Oklahoma counterpart Brent Venables said they’re approaching Saturday’s showdown like any other week.

“With all the stuff going around this game, we need to be really present with what we’re doing,” Sarkisian said.

But this rivalry clash between the No. 3 Longhorns and No. 12 Sooners, played in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas in the middle of the State Fair of Texas, isn’t like any other game.

The atmosphere, the crowd — split down the 50-yard line between Texas and Oklahoma fans — and the lead-up all make it different from any other game on the schedule.

“Everybody knows what time it is,” Oklahoma wide receiver Jayden Gibson said. “Everybody in our locker room knows what time it is. I know what time it is.”

For the 43rd time in the series’ long history, Texas and Oklahoma enter the contest with both teams ranked.

The Longhorns (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) have big-game experience this season, having knocked off then-No. 3 Alabama 34-24 back on Sept. 9.

“Obviously the Alabama week (was similar) with the potential distractions that come with a week like this,” Sarkisian said. “We have a saying: ‘Starve your distraction, feed your focus.’”

Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0) hasn’t been tested nearly so much, as this will be its first game against a ranked opponent.

But the Sooners are in much better shape entering this year’s matchup than they were last year, when Oklahoma entered on a two-game losing streak and without quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who was knocked out the previous week with an injury.

Without Gabriel, the Sooners threw for just 39 yards and Texas grabbed its biggest win in the series’ history, 49-0.

“I want to see where we’re at,” Venables said. “You want to continue to improve and create change. We’re certainly not where we want to be in any way, shape or form.”

The quarterbacks figure to go a long way toward deciding the game.

Last season, Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers threw for 289 yards and four touchdowns with an interception.

He’s been excellent this season, completing nearly two-thirds of his passes for 1,358 yards, 10 touchdowns and an interception. He has also run for five scores.

Gabriel has put up even better numbers, completing better than 75 percent of his passes for 1,593 yards and 15 touchdowns with two interceptions. He has four rushing touchdowns.

But both defenses have plenty of teeth, ranking in the top 12 nationally in points allowed per game, in the top 10 in third-down defense, top 20 in turnover margin and top 30 in total defense.

“They’re very physical,” Gabriel said of the Longhorns’ defense. “They’ve been dominant in their first five games. Just have been playing really good football, so it’ll be a great challenge.”

For the Sooners, that’s a major turnaround from last season, when they struggled defensively in Venables’ first season.

“Coach Venables, he’d been doing it too long at too high of a level to think they weren’t going to get that thing fixed,” Sarkisian said. “I told you last year that he would.”

–Field Level Media