Sep 3, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby before the game against the UTEP Miners at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Coaches reunite when No. 7 Oklahoma hosts Kent State

Oklahoma offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby knows a bit about Kent State’s offense.

“Yeah, you recognize some of it for sure,” Lebby said. “There’s some familiarity.”

There should be.

Golden Flashes head coach Sean Lewis was an offensive assistant coach under Dino Babers at Eastern Illinois in 2012-13. Babers had taken the job after four seasons at Baylor alongside Lebby.

Not only did Babers bring much of Baylor’s offense with him, but his staff also went to Baylor each offseason for professional development sessions.

On Saturday, the fast-paced offenses of Lebby and Lewis meet when No. 7 Oklahoma hosts Kent State in the first meeting between the programs.

“The staffs were helping one another so we could learn and go and play fast,” Lewis, who was coaching inside receivers and tight ends for Eastern Illinois, said. “So that’s where it all started. We’ve stayed in contact ever since then.”

Sooners defensive coordinator Ted Roof said going against Oklahoma’s offense every day in practice gives his group an advantage on Saturday.

“They go really, really fast. But so do our guys,” Roof said. “For teams that don’t do that, that’s almost impossible to simulate because if your guys don’t do it, the scout teams can’t do that if that’s not what they do on a daily basis.”

The teams had much different results in their openers.

Oklahoma (1-0) opened the season with a 45-13 win over UTEP last week, while Kent State fell 45-20 to Washington.

This week has been an adjustment for Sooners head coach Brent Venables, who took over for Lincoln Riley in the offseason and picked up his first win as a head coach.

“Sometimes when you have less time, that’s a good thing as a coach so you don’t overthink things. And so when you get into the season itself, you’re limited on the amount of time you have,” Venables said. “Everything’s just a little bit more condensed and a little bit more intentional.”

Lewis said the key to the fast-paced offenses both teams use is the quarterback position.

The Sooners have Dillon Gabriel, who transferred to Oklahoma from Central Florida after beginning his college career there with Lebby as his offensive coordinator.

“He just looks like the teacher in the classroom,” Sooners wide receiver Theo Wease said. “He looks so comfortable, just poised. You can tell he’s out there playing with a lot of confidence.”

The Golden Flashes (0-1) have redshirt junior Collin Schlee, who took over as the starter after playing sparingly prior to this season.

Schlee threw an interception on the first play of the game against Washington.

“I was really pleased with the way Collin leveled out,” Lewis said. “He settled into the game, made some explosive plays and really did some things within the confines of the offense where he wasn’t greedy and took what they gave him.”

The Golden Flashes have spent the week in Oklahoma, deciding to fly to Tulsa instead of heading back to Ohio after a late-night game on the West Coast.

“We want to put our guys in the best position to be successful,” Lewis said, noting that the Labor Day holiday gave them the opportunity to make the schedule work.

–Field Level Media

Apr 23, 2022; Norman, Oklahoma, USA;  Oklahoma Sooners linebacker T.D. Roof (18) in action during the spring game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Oklahoma transfer LB T.D. Roof out for season

Oklahoma linebacker T.D. Roof will miss the 2022 season with a torn biceps injury that will require surgery, coach Brent Venables said Tuesday.

Roof transferred from Appalachian State, where he logged 41 solo tackles, three sacks and two interceptions in 2021.

He was planning to spend his fifth and final year of college eligibility with the Sooners playing for his father, defensive coordinator Ted Roof.

T.D. Roof transferred for the third time in his college career in the spring after his first two seasons at Georgia Tech (2017) and Indiana (2018). He said he wasn’t certain about playing football in 2022 until Venables rang.

“When Oklahoma calls you up and says, ‘Hey, do you want to come play football for Oklahoma?’” Roof said, “you don’t say no.”

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma State fans hold up newspapers with a picture of former OU football coach Lincoln Riley during Oklahoma's introduction before a Bedlam basketball game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022.

Bedlam Basketball

Lincoln Riley asserts he didn’t poach Oklahoma players

New Southern California coach Lincoln Riley said Tuesday that he didn’t bring any players from Oklahoma with him to Los Angeles — he got them from the transfer portal.

Riley made the comments during an interview on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd.”

Cowherd asked Riley if it was sensitive bringing OU transfers Caleb Williams, wide receiver Mario Williams and cornerback Latrell McCutchin to the Trojans.

Riley agreed that it was, but that he didn’t.

“We didn’t take players from Oklahoma. We took players from the transfer portal,” Riley told Cowherd. “Those players and their families had to make a decision to either stay at that university, just like any other player has to make, or to enter the portal where then they can be recruited by anybody in the country. That’s up to those players and their families and we have nothing to do with that.

“But once a player gets into a portal where they are open to any school in the country, we would be crazy not to take a look at and try to help our football team,” Riley went on. “All of a sudden they were good enough for us to take at Oklahoma, but now we wouldn’t give them a chance just because we’re in a new spot? That part never really made sense to me.”

Caleb Williams took over the starting job six games into the 2021 season under Riley at OU and finished the season with 1,912 passing yards and 21 touchdowns against four interceptions. Williams rushed for another 442 yards, scoring six touchdowns.

When he first entered the portal, Williams’ father, Carl Williams, said the quarterback “doesn’t have a destination” picked out.

Mario Williams, who is unrelated to Caleb, caught 35 passes for 380 yards and four TDs as a freshman in 2021.

–Field Level Media

OU coach Lincoln Riley says he was out Tuesday dealing with a personal matter.


Southern Cal hires Lincoln Riley away from Oklahoma

Lincoln Riley, the accomplished head coach at the University of Oklahoma, is leaving the Sooners to become the next head coach at Southern California, per multiple media reports.

Riley informed his staff Sunday.

Riley, 38, excelled as an assistant coach at Texas Tech and East Carolina before being hired as Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator in 2015. He inherited the top job at the Oklahoma program when former coach Bob Stoops retired in June 2017.

The Sooners rolled to a 12-2 record and the College Football Playoff in his first season, losing to Georgia in the semifinals at the Rose Bowl 54-48 in double overtime.

Oklahoma made two more playoff appearances during his tenure and won four straight Big 12 championships, as Riley accumulated a 55-10 record in five seasons.

Riley led the Sooners to a 10-2 record and third-place finish in the Big 12 in 2020.

The Trojans job came open when USC athletic director Mike Bohn fired Clay Helton on Sept. 13, two days after Southern Cal was wrecked 42-28 by Stanford, which is now 3-9.

Helton went 46-24 at USC, with multiple seasons of double-digit wins, but the program had slipped in recent years. USC is just 4-7 this year.

The move comes as a bombshell in the sport, not only because of its high-profile nature, but also because Riley had cut off questioning about a potential move to LSU Saturday night by saying in part, “I’m not going to be the next coach at LSU. Next question.”

Those LSU rumors ended up being a smokescreen for this move, with USC not being listed as a likely destination for Riley during its own head coaching search.

ESPN is reporting that Oklahoma will pursue Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury for its vacancy.

–Field Level Media

Nov 27, 2021; Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) passes the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners during the first half at Boone Pickens Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Oklahoma State holds on to defeat No. 10 Oklahoma

Spencer Sanders threw for 214 yards and a touchdown and ran for 93 yards and another score to lift No. 7 Oklahoma State to a 37-33 win over No. 10 Oklahoma on Saturday in Stillwater, Okla.

The Cowboys (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) will face Baylor in next week’s Big 12 Championship Game, ending the Sooners’ streak of six consecutive conference titles.

The Cowboys’ defense struggled through much of the first half but came up big after halftime – even after the offense and special teams put them in a tough spot. Oklahoma State allowed just 180 yards of offense after the break — only 48 through the air.

A big chunk of those came on Caleb Williams’ 56-yard run in the final minute to give the Sooners the ball inside the Oklahoma State 25.

But once again, the Cowboys’ defense came up big, forcing three consecutive incompletions before Collin Oliver sacked Williams on fourth down to put the game away and snap the Sooners’ six-game Bedlam winning streak.

Williams threw for 252 yards and three touchdowns but was just 6 of 18 after halftime and 20 of 39 overall.

Kennedy Brooks ran for 139 yards for Oklahoma (10-2, 7-2).

The Cowboys lost the momentum with a special teams miscue early in the third quarter, then regained it with a similar error by the Sooners. Eric Gray muffed a punt early in the fourth quarter, and the Cowboys’ Demarco Jones recovered at the Sooners’ 5.

Three plays later, Jaylen Warren’s 1-yard touchdown run put the Cowboys ahead for good. They had clawed back into it about five minutes earlier on Sanders’ 37-yard touchdown run.

The Sooners built momentum early in the second half with a pair of non-offensive scores.

First, defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey popped the ball free from Cowboys running back Dominic Richardson, knocking it into the end zone.

Oklahoma State left tackle Cole Birmingham was able to jump on the ball, but the safety gave Oklahoma their first lead.

After the Sooners’ ensuing drive went nowhere, Brennan Presley couldn’t hang onto the punt, and Justin Broiles was there to recover the muffed punt in the end zone to put the Sooners ahead 33-24.

The Cowboys hadn’t given up more than 24 points all season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Lubbock, Texas, USA;  The Oklahoma State Cowboys huddle before a game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Bedlam stakes high for No. 7 Oklahoma State, No. 10 Oklahoma

Oklahoma State wide receiver Tay Martin isn’t backing down from Oklahoma.

“I would expect to whoop their a–, honestly,” Martin said of Saturday’s meeting with the Sooners. “I don’t go into a game thinking otherwise. So, as long as we just do what we have to do, you know, take care of the little things, not try to do too much, do what we did to get here, honestly, we’ll be fine.”

The Sooners have long dominated Bedlam, leading the all-time series 90-18-7. Oklahoma has won the last six meetings between the programs and 16 of the last 18.

Heading into Saturday’s meeting in Stillwater, Okla., the No. 7 Cowboys are looking to escape the shadow of the No. 10 Sooners.

The Cowboys have already clinched a spot in the Big 12 Championship game, their first appearance in the game.

An Oklahoma State win and a Baylor win over Texas Tech on Saturday would end the Sooners’ six-year run of conference titles.

An Oklahoma win or a Baylor loss would set up back-to-back Bedlam matchups for the Big 12 title. By the time the game kicks off, the road to the title game figures to be even clearer, with the Baylor-Texas Tech game kicking off more than seven hours before kickoff in Stillwater.

“The potential is unique, but it’s on us to win,” Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said. “I approach this like every other one, even when we’ve had games before in the regular season where we’ve already clinched it. We’ve been in that position and knowing we’re going to the Big 12 title game and you don’t hold back.

“We don’t get 50 of these things. We don’t get 60 of these things. You only get so many.”

Both teams are still in the thick of a race for a College Football Playoff berth, with the Cowboys (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) in better position to make a leap into the top four.

Oklahoma State is in that position thanks in large part to its defense.

The Cowboys are allowing 267.5 total yards and 85.5 rushing yards per game.

“They don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Riley said of Oklahoma State’s defense. “There’s not a lot of gimmes where they busted and just gave the offense something. You just don’t see that much. They’re experienced, they’re well-coached, and it’s kinda what you’d expect. We need to play the same way.”

Since its Oct. 23 loss at Iowa State, Oklahoma State has outscored opponents 165-23.

While the Cowboys have been at their best lately, Oklahoma remains up and down.

The Sooners (10-1, 7-1) are coming off a 28-21 win over Iowa State where their defense dominated but the offense was held under 100 yards passing for the first time since 2014.

Even with his recent struggles, Oklahoma freshman quarterback Caleb Williams always has to be accounted for, coach Mike Gundy said.

“He’s a special talent,” Gundy said. “He can run around and throw the ball. It’s kind of like Nolan Ryan in football — he can fire it down the field from about any release. He’s very agile and elusive, faster than what he looks because he takes big strides, and he’s willing to just chunk it down the field and try to make plays.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears linebacker Matt Jones (52) knocks the ball away from Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams (13) during the second half at McLane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

CFP rankings: Oklahoma drops to No. 13, top four remain same

Oklahoma plummeted five spots to No. 13 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings that were released Tuesday following its first loss of the season.

The CFP selection committee already showed its misgivings about the previously unbeaten Sooners due to uneven performances against the likes of Nebraska, West Virginia and Kansas. That was before Baylor defeated Oklahoma 27-14 Saturday in a one-sided game that included the Sooners yanking freshman quarterback Caleb Williams to return to Spencer Rattler for a spell.

The projected four-team field remained unchanged from a week ago, with Georgia, Alabama, Oregon and Ohio State all coming off wins. Nos. 5-7 also stayed the same: Cincinnati, Michigan and Michigan State.

With Oklahoma dropping, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State and Wake Forest filled out the top 10. Wake responded from its first loss of the season by beating North Carolina State 45-42 in a ranked-on-ranked matchup.

Baylor rose two spots to No. 11 after taking down Oklahoma, and Ole Miss moved up by three to No. 12 after defeating Texas A&M 29-19 in one of the marquee games of the week. The Aggies dropped by five to No. 16 as a result.

Houston and Mississippi State entered the rankings at Nos. 24 and 25, while Auburn and Purdue fell out of the Top 25 following losses. Mississippi State came back from down 28-3 to beat Auburn 43-34. It is 9-1 Houston’s first appearance in the rankings all season; the Cougars have won nine straight games after a season-opening loss to Texas Tech.

Below is the complete Top 25:

1. Georgia
2. Alabama
3. Oregon
4. Ohio State
5. Cincinnati
6. Michigan
7. Michigan State
8. Notre Dame
9. Oklahoma State
10. Wake Forest
11. Baylor
12. Ole Miss
13. Oklahoma
14. BYU
15. Wisconsin
16. Texas A&M
17. Iowa
18. Pitt
19. San Diego State
20. NC State
21. Arkansas
22. UTSA
23. Utah
24. Houston
25. Mississippi State

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma's Marvin Mims (17) scores a touchdown in front of Texas Tech's Malik Dunlap (8) during a college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021.

Ou Vc Texas Tech

Caleb Williams throws 6 TDs as No. 4 Oklahoma routs Texas Tech

Caleb Williams threw for 402 yards and six touchdowns, leading No. 4 Oklahoma to a 52-21 win over Texas Tech on Saturday at Norman, Okla.

After a listless performance a week before in a win over Kansas, the Sooners put their foot on the gas pedal early against the Red Raiders.

The Sooners (9-0, 6-0 Big 12) are off to their best start since going 12-0 to start the 2004 season heading into a November schedule with three consecutive games against ranked opponents after next week’s bye.

Texas Tech (5-4, 2-4) lost in its first game under interim coach Sonny Cumbie after Matt Wells was fired earlier in the week.

Much of Oklahoma’s production on the offensive side came courtesy of Caleb Williams, who threw for 268 yards and four touchdowns in the first half.

Caleb Williams stepped around pressure and found Mario Williams for a 22-yard touchdown to give the Sooners the lead early, then zipped a pass to Marvin Mims on the next drive, with Mims evading one tackle and then streaking to the end zone for a 67-yard touchdown and 14-7 lead. By the time the half was over, he’d also thrown touchdowns to Brayden Willis and Drake Stoops.

Oklahoma led 28-7 after Stoops’ 12-yard touchdown catch midway through the second quarter before the Red Raiders went on a long drive that ultimately ran out the rest of the quarter.

But without a timeout left and time winding down, Donovan Smith passed to Erik Ezukanma in the middle of the field. He was stopped short of the first down, and the Red Raiders tried to hurry their field-goal unit onto the field but couldn’t get the kick off before time expired.

Mims finished with four catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns while Mario Williams finished with five catches for 100 yards and a score.

Cumbie started Henry Colombi at quarterback, but Colombi struggled, going 7 for 12 for 77 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Donovan Smith finished 17 for 22 with 192 yards, a touchdown and an interception for the Red Raiders.

Ezukanma had eight catches for 123 yards and a touchdown for Texas Tech.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Lubbock, Texas, USA;  Texas Tech Red Raiders offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie before the game against the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks at Jones AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Sonny Cumbie takes reins at Texas Tech against No. 4 Oklahoma

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley knows a bit about what Sonny Cumbie is going through this week.

When Mike Leach, Riley’s mentor, was fired by Texas Tech in December 2009 just a few days before the Red Raiders were to play in the Alamo Bowl, Riley had to collect himself quickly. Riley was elevated to offensive coordinator for that game, calling plays for the first time.

Now Cumbie, who was a graduate assistant back then for the Red Raiders, will make his head coaching debut against the No. 4 Sooners when Texas Tech visits Oklahoma on Saturday.

Cumbie was named the Red Raiders’ interim coach Monday after Matt Wells was fired in the middle of his third season at the helm.

Cumbie returned to his alma mater this season after spending seven seasons as an assistant coach at TCU.

The Red Raiders (5-3, 2-3 Big 12) have dropped three of their last five, including a 25-24 home loss to Kansas State last week where they were held scoreless after halftime.

“It’s very unfortunate, the circumstances,” Cumbie said. “We had no control over that other than you feel like you let Coach Wells down in terms of not winning enough games or playing well enough on offense.

“That’s our job right now is to lead them as well as we can, make the most of every situation that comes our way.”

Right now, Riley’s Sooners (8-0, 5-0) are the first step in front of Texas Tech.

Oklahoma is 8-0 for the first time since 2004, but there are plenty of questions swirling around the team, especially after last week’s closer-than-expected 35-23 win over Kansas in a game the Sooners were trailing in the fourth quarter.

Early in the season, Riley insisted Oklahoma was close to breaking through offensively when that group struggled and needed the defense to lead the way.

Now, it’s the defense that has struggled in recent weeks — especially when it comes to getting a push up front and in coverage.

Riley now has similar words about the defense.

“I see no reason why this defense cannot play very well the back half of the season,” Riley said. “I see some things starting to come together that give me a high sense of confidence that it’s going to get done.”

A big part of those recent struggles — though not all — have been a spate of injuries, especially in the secondary.

The Sooners were without both starting cornerbacks last week after D.J. Graham missed the game to go along with Woodi Washington being out since early in the season. Safety Delarrin Turner-Yell has played just one play over the last four games, dressing out but not appearing in last week’s win.

“Gosh (darn), we’re close. We’re so close. Like, we’re agonizingly close and again, the mistakes, the things that have hurt us, the times that people have moved it for the most part have been our errors,” Riley said. “It’s not just guys getting beat or guys not doing this or the capability’s not there. So you feel like it’s very correctable.”

But the time to correct those issues is dwindling, especially with a three-game stretch against three ranked opponents — Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State — coming up after a bye week.

Though Riley anticipates at least a few of those injured defensive players to return against the Red Raiders, Texas Tech’s defense figures to be without quite a few rotational players. Cumbie said defensive tackle Tony Bradford, linebacker Jacob Morgenstern and safeties Adrian Frye and Reggie Pearson would be out against Oklahoma.

The Sooners have won nine consecutive games against the Red Raiders, whose last win in the series came in 2011, when an unranked Tech team knocked off then-No. 3 Oklahoma in Norman, with Cumbie coaching the Red Raiders’ inside receivers.

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams (13) in action during the game  against the TCU Horned Frogs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Williams, No. 3 Oklahoma on a roll; Kansas next

A few weeks ago, Oklahoma’s defense was holding the team’s undefeated season together through close games.

Questions swirled, though, about Oklahoma’s offense.

But after making a quarterback change Oct. 9 against Texas, replacing Spencer Rattler with Caleb Williams, the now-No. 3 Sooners have been rolling offensively.

Over the past two games — heading into Saturday’s Big 12 game at Kansas (1-5, 0-3) — Williams is 34 of 48 for 507 yards and six touchdowns without an interception, and he has rushed for 154 yards and two scores. It led to Oklahoma victories of 55-48 over then-No. 21 Texas and 52-31 over TCU.

But beyond that, the Sooners (7-0, 4-0) have looked much better offensively overall, getting better protection up front and creating space for not only Williams to make plays with his feet, but also for running back Kennedy Brooks. Williams also has completed more passes downfield.

Brooks has rushed for 370 yards and three touchdowns in wins over Texas and TCU, closing in on becoming just the fourth player to have three 1,000-yard rushing seasons for Oklahoma.

Since Williams replaced Rattler in the second quarter against Texas, the Sooners have eight passing plays of 25 or more yards. Rattler had eight such plays over the first five-plus games.

“We’re just executing the deep ball,” Sooners receiver Jadon Haselwood said. “Even in practice, we’re working on that type of stuff and practicing trying to get it right for Saturday.

“Everybody’s more in sync. We’re in our midseason form.”

A game against the Jayhawks doesn’t figure to do anything to change that, as only four other Football Bowl Subdivision defenses have allowed more yards per game than Kansas this season.

While Oklahoma’s offense is hitting its stride, the defense has struggled at times, especially in the secondary, where the Sooners have been without several key pieces — cornerback Woodi Washington and safety Delarrin Turner-Yell have been injured of late and another cornerback, D.J. Graham, left last week’s game with an injury.

Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said the group was making strides but should get reinforcements back soon as those players start returning.

“We’ve had to make it work,” Riley said. “We’ve had to develop depth.”

Kansas’ passing offense is among the FBS’ worst, averaging less than 173 yards through the air this season.

Kansas coach Lance Leipold, who took the job in May after Les Miles agreed to a buyout, said improvement needed to start becoming apparent.

“You can’t just keep playing for the future all the time,” Leipold said. “That’ll be a conversation down the road. We understand that.

“Holistically, there are improvements in our program being made, but I’m just like all of you, our fans, our players, our staff — disappointed and frustrated that it’s not being reflected really at all on the scoreboard.”

Oklahoma has beaten Kansas 16 straight times. The Jayhawks’ last win over the Sooners came in 1997.

–Field Level Media