Sooners couldn’t finish off success

first_imgOut too “soon” · Buddy Hield’s heroics were not enough to propel the Sooners to the championship game, as Oklahoma fell to Villanova. – Photo courtesy of Siandhara Bonnet | OU DailyOklahoma was dismantled by eventual champion Villanova in the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.It was a shocking performance from the Sooners, who now find themselves in the college basketball history books for undesirable reasons. Lon Kruger’s seemingly incredible team lost by 44 points in the most iconic round of the sport’s most iconic competition. It was, even for the most neutral fan, quite hard to watch.Yet OU was the real champion of the two biggest college sports for the 2015-16 season. The Sooners advanced to the national semifinal in both football and in men’s basketball.Of course, no one is going to argue against winning titles. But widely appreciated yet less verbalized by college sports fans is the notion that their team is nationally relevant. It is the feeling that your team’s performance on any given day will impact a program a couple thousand miles away.Florida and Ohio State owned the 2006-07 campaign in both football and men’s hoops, as the Gators downed the Buckeyes in the title game in both sports that season. Unsurprisingly, those four teams had special, program-defining players: Percy Harvin and Al Horford in Gainesville, Troy Smith and Mike Conley in Columbus.Oklahoma’s stars achieved similar levels of national recognition. Baker Mayfield’s youthful enthusiasm encapsulated the beauty of college football, while Buddy Hield’s versatility on the court was truly something to behold.OU football and basketball fell flat after halftime in the College Football Playoff and in the Final Four — the former against Clemson and the latter against Villanova. The Sooners failed to score after the half against the Tigers in that CFP matchup, and their hardwood counterparts were outscored 53-23 by the Wildcats in that debacle of a Final Four contest.Maybe Oklahoma struggles against large cats. Maybe OU’s uninspiring performances in such monumental games isn’t actually the biggest of deals.Oklahoma’s success leading up to those games forces college sports fans to compare the enjoyment quotient of having a great season as opposed to doing so while also taking home the hardware.Only two programs will claim the two most prominent titles in intercollegiate Division I athletics each year. Alabama did what Alabama does and snagged that oddly tall CFP trophy in January, but the Sooners were only one game away from facing the Tide. Meanwhile, OU basketball came awfully close — not really, but technically — to playing North Carolina for all the marbles.The fact that one school actually came this close to rivaling the 2006-07 Florida Gators as two-sport champs ought to make fans of other colleges at least somewhat envious. And while OU fans continue to ruminate on what could have been, the journey — from late August through early April — has been a source of true indulgence for the Sooner faithful.Any hey-good-job-almost-winning banners or plaques from this season that turn up in the athletic facilities in Norman will likely be greeted by a shrug from those who witnessed — let alone partook in — the postseason collapses.But the slowly recovering OU fans can find solace in the fact that their teams were contending until the very end. Well, almost.Josh Cohen is a sophomore majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. His column, “Cohen’s Corner,” runs Tuesdays.last_img read more

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NFL power rankings: 49ers, Eagles, Raiders shoot up; Seahawks, Steelers, Cowboys slide for Week 17

first_img (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/73/47/jon-gruden-derek-carr-121919-getty-ftr_l4m7ohtwbzhy1fp4bkqohvdcx.jpg?t=616896031&w=500&quality=80 (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/b3/1f/carson-wentz-122219-getty-ftrjpg_1iwniy5jt22601qf2xnah17tvz.jpg?t=808056671&w=500&quality=80 MORE: NFL playoff picture | Updated draft orderWhere does you favorite team stand or fall going into the final week? Without further ado, here’s the latest look at the NFL power structure, from No. 1 through No. 32.NFL power rankings1. Baltimore Ravens, 13-2 (previous ranking: 1)The Ravens stayed hot and made it 11 straight wins overall by beating up the team (the Browns) that last beat them. After Baltimore rests its key players in Week 17, it might not lose again until next season as the clear Super Bowl favorite. Congratulations to Lamar Jackson on his MVP season.2. San Francisco 49ers, 12-3 (5)The 49ers made the volume of big plays necessary to outlast the Rams and eliminate the reigning NFC champions. They quickly took back control of the NFC West and regained the momentum needed to become the NFC team to beat.3. Green Bay Packers, 12-3 (2)The Packers kept up with the NFC heavyweight with their impressive throwdown of the Vikings in Minnesota to take the NFC North. They are finding their right balance of offense and defense at the right time.4. New Orleans Saints, 12-3 (6)The Saints marched into Nashville, and after a slow start, they turned on the afterburners with record-setters Drew Brees and Michael Thomas, plus a welcome return to explosiveness for Alvin Kamara. They have a chance to put it together and finish the Super Bowl run they couldn’t complete last season.5. Kansas City Chiefs, 11-4 (3)The Chiefs also look like they want to finish unfinished business from their conference championship game from a season ago. Patrick Mahomes and the offense is making plenty of plays while the defense is starting to get in a swarming groove.6. New England Patriots, 12-3 (7)There go the Patriots, figuring out a few more things offensively while still dominating on defense and special teams. Everyone should know by now not to write them off until time runs out in a playoff game in which they are trailing. 26. Carolina Panthers, 5-10 (26)Against a depleted Colts defense, the Panthers saw that rookie QB Will Grier was overwhelmed and not a real answer over Kyle Allen. They need to either figure things out with Cam Newton or go forward with a true young franchise QB with their new head coach.27. Arizona Cardinals, 5-9-1 (27)The Cardinals are on to something with Kyler Murray, Kenyan Drake and Kliff Kingsbury. Their defense is also showing some fight late in the season under Vance Joseph. This is a much better situation going forward than they had with the previous coaching staff.28. New York Giants, 4-11 (29)The Giants weren’t thinking about next year’s draft when they put Daniel Jones back in action. The 2019 first-rounder quickly reminded them he is a keeper and will be a key piece as they try to win big again. Given the state of the NFC East, that could come as early as next season if the Giants add a few defensive pieces.29. Miami Dolphins, 4-11 (31)The Dolphins knew 2019 would be a trying season as they rebuild. While the youth movement continues, the veteran combination of Ryan Fitzpatrick and DeVante Parker has made them more than respectable.30. Detroit Lions, 3-11-1 (28)Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn have gotten a reprieve because of the injury bug that ended up biting Matthew Stafford during the QB’s best all-around season. It’s hard for anyone to compete when forced to play a rookie late-rounder. (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/4c/4c/kitchens-mayfield-12219-getty-ftrjpg_1evaxe4itzcx11cp29azi1ux8i.jpg?t=784000031&w=500&quality=80 7. Seattle Seahawks, 11-4 (4)The Seahawks fell flat at home against the Cardinals to hurt their chances of staying at home in the playoffs. Now they are injury-ravaged and going into a rematch with the 49ers with less confidence.8. Buffalo Bills, 10-5 (8)The Bills fought hard and played well in New England, but for a second time this season, they couldn’t generate enough offense and made the greater mistakes. They’re a strong playoff team while still learning how to win, and all the credit goes to Sean McDermott and his staff.9. Minnesota Vikings, 10-5 (9)The Vikings don’t want to be forgotten in the NFC playoff picture with their ticket punched. But their loss to the Packers brought up more skepticism against Kirk Cousins and their defense.10. Houston Texans, 10-5 (10)The Texans were sloppy against the Buccaneers and got away with it, because their opponent was even sloppier. Houston has had some high moments, including beating Kansas City and New England, but after the one-and-done last season, the Texans need to restore some good playoff vibes in Week 17. (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/64/d2/cam-newton-110519-getty-ftr_bokmkxzvd3dj1a2t99w0gha3k.jpg?t=1092796822&w=500&quality=80 (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/28/be/aaron-rodgers-11082019-getty-ftrjpg_17tdjutdh7jfe1eeyqjp8gswgn.jpg?t=1292581454&w=500&quality=80 (Getty Images) https://images.daznservices.com/di/library/sporting_news/5e/96/dwayne-haskins-getty-ftr-122219_9e6vyz1b2u9t12wby19f60nbi.jpg?t=791986607&w=500&quality=80 21. Cleveland Browns, 6-9 (18)The Browns crushed their own promise this season with consistent dysfunction, leading to maddening inconsistency despite their level of talent. There have been too many meltdowns for them to continue with Freddie Kitchens.22. Denver Broncos, 6-9 (22)Drew Lock is helping the Broncos end Vic Fangio’s first season on a high note, one that makes us wonder how things would have gone had the rookie been healthy and starting for a full season. We might see that in 2020.23. New York Jets, 6-9 (24)The Jets probably have done enough late this season to buy Adam Gase and Gregg Williams a pass into 2020. We’ll never know how their season would have played out if Sam Darnold wasn’t trying to make up for the time he lost with mono.24. Los Angeles Chargers, 5-10 (23)The Chargers’ roller-coaster ride continues, as they’re headed to a seven-game drop in the standings from last season. Some of their struggles were tied to injuries, but more with Philip Rivers’ inefficiency and inconsistency. They have a tough QB decision to make, but they need to stick with Anthony Lynn.25. Jacksonville Jaguars, 5-10 (25)The Jaguars had to clean up a mess in the front office to save some face. Gardner Minshew was a bright spot this season until they decided to ruin the magical momentum and reinsert Nick Foles. Things have gone downhill since, as Minshew hasn’t been able to rediscover his mustachioed mojo. 31. Washington Redskins, 3-12 (30) 16. Oakland Raiders, 7-8 (19)The Raiders are still alive in the NFL playoff picture because Jon Gruden keeps getting them to fight through their final run for Oakland. They have filled more personnel holes than most would think in 2019, and they will carry some good momentum to Las Vegas.17. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 7-8 (15)The Bucs made a lot of improvements offensively with Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich this season, but their bigger strides may have come defensively with Todd Bowles and some good 3-4 personnel, young and old. Watch for the Bucs next year with James Winston likely to return and cut down on his mistakes.18. Indianapolis Colts, 7-8 (20)The Colts managed as well as they could without Andrew Luck this season, as injuries ruined what they could have been with Jacoby Brissett. Their getting to. 500 would be admirable.19. Chicago Bears, 7-8 (17)The Bears didn’t improve enough offensively with Mitchell Trubisky to match their natural defensive regression this season. Matt Nagy and Trubisky should be safe as a coaching-QB combination for 2020.20. Atlanta Falcons, 6-9 (21)The Falcons have kept fighting to prove Dan Quinn should remain their head coach. The defensive turnaround has been strong, and the offense has matched it with a more physical identity down the stretch. The Redskins have not quit, and they showed their fight with both Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum. Bill Callahan won’t get the long-term job, but he has done the best he can with little control of the injury-related defensive struggles.32. Cincinnati Bengals, 1-14 (32)The Bengals did their best to get the Dolphins back into the Joe Burrow sweepstakes. It was no surprise that their current underappreciated quarterback, Andy Dalton, was the one making the last fiery salvo to save his status. 11. Philadelphia Eagles, 8-7 (16)The Eagles fly up the rankings after dominating the Cowboys defensively in their biggest game of the season while also continuing to show more creative offensive pop. Doug Pederson has done another great December coaching job.12. Los Angeles Rams, 8-7 (14)The Rams should be frustrated about missing the playoffs, because while the offense and defense each have looked great at times, there has been too much inconsistency for Sean McVay’s team. Expect a coaching/personnel shake-up in the offseason.13. Tennessee Titans, 8-7 (12)The Titans somehow are positioned to make the playoffs despite their bad second half against the Saints. Tennessee has been impressive offensively with Ryan Tannehill, even without Derrick Henry, to compensate for its breakdowns defensively. Mike Vrabel has done another underrated coaching job.14. Pittsburgh Steelers, 8-7 (13)Mike Tomlin and the defense have kept the Steelers in the hunt as long as possible, but things have started to unravel with the ineffective quarterback toggling between Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges. It’s hard to overcome such offensive ineptitude in the modern NFL.15. Dallas Cowboys, 7-8 (11)What was that? We understand Dallas’ defense struggling in key moments, but its high-powered passing offense let the team down in Philadelphia. Jason Garrett probably sealed his own fate with his shakiest operation to date. Week 17 of the NFL season is here. That means all of the league’s teams get one more game to show how they stack up against each other for 2019.In our last Sporting News power rankings before the playoffs, there’s another shakeup near the top based on the results of last week’s games. With a few more upsets, the middle and bottom also have a few more key changes.last_img read more

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