LOS ANGELES — Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops understood the question, but you can tell it didn’t sit well with him.
When you finish 12-1 and advance to the College Football Semifinals and get to take on Georgia in the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day to determine who plays for the national championship, it’s hard to find much fault in your football team.
But it was true.
After thoroughly dismantling Ohio State 31-16 back in September, the Sooners had to squeak out a 49-41 win over Baylor, then lost to Iowa State 38-31 a week later.
While Oklahoma’s offense was electric and piling up points week after week, the Sooners’ defense was struggling to keep points off the board.
But something happened in Oklahoma’s 62-52 win over Oklahoma State on Nov. 4. After giving up 38 points in the first half, the Sooners defense locked down and only gave up 14 in the second half.
And from that point on, Oklahoma’s defense has resembled what you think an Oklahoma defense should look like, culminating in the 41-17 Big 12 championship win over TCU to punch its ticket to the Final Four.
“You felt like after we played against Ohio State people tell you how great you are sometimes and pat you on the back,” Stoops said. “And we invested a great deal in that game because of what happened the year before (45-24 loss to Ohio State). We were really ready to play. We were sharp. We did a lot of the things. Our preparation was on.
“I think maybe towards the middle part of the year we got a little lapse in who we are and didn’t do a lot of the little things that you need to do to play at this level that we’re expected to play at and we should play at
“That was, I think, disheartening to all of us. That’s not our style here at Oklahoma to rely on our offense and do our part defensively, and that really hurts, I think, our pride.”
Oklahoma strong safety Steven Parker was asked what changed during the middle of the Oklahoma State game.
“I really just…