A 24-point second-quarter outburst propelled the No. 14 Oklahoma football team to a 47-32 win over No. 16 Oregon in the Alamo Bowl on Wednesday at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.
Oklahoma outscored Oregon 24-0 in the second quarter thanks to a Gabe Brkic field goal, a pair of Caleb Williams touchdown passes to Drake Stoops and Marvin Mims and Kennedy Brooks' 29-yard touchdown run. Thanks to those efforts, OU took a 30-3 halftime lead.
Brooks was the Alamo Bowl's star with 14 carries for 142 rushing yards and three touchdowns and scored the first points of the game on a 16-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. Meanwhile, the efficient Williams completed 21-of-27 passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns.
Oregon's offense exploded in the second half with 22 third-quarter points and 29 overall, but Oklahoma's lead never dipped below 15 points. Running back Travis Dye was Oregon's sparkplug with 18 carries for 153 rushing yards and a score.
Both teams were shorthanded. Of note, a pair of edge-rushers in Oregon's Kayvion Thibodeaux and Oklahoma's Nik Bonitto were out after announcing their intentions for the NFL draft.
This game also featured a pair of teams that traveled eerily similar paths this season.
Both programs were College Football Playoff contenders, but each of them suffered conference losses to crush their playoff hopes.
Oregon fell to Stanford and Utah (twice), while OU lost to Baylor and Oklahoma State.
Oregon and Oklahoma ended up posting 10-win seasons, but they each lost their head coaches in a high-profile fashion after the end of the regular season, too.
Passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Bryan McClendon led the Ducks on Wednesday after Mario Cristobal left for Miami, and former OU coach Bob Stoops guided the Sooners after Lincoln Riley took off for USC.
Georgia defensive coordinator Dan Lanning will take over permanently in Oregon, and Clemson associate head coach/defensive coordinator Brent Venables will lead OU.
With the win, the Sooners ended their season with an 11-2 mark, while Oregon fell to 10-4.
Oklahoma QB Caleb Williams: 21-of-27, 242 passing yards, 3 TD
Oklahoma RB Kennedy Brooks: 14 carries, 142 rushing yards, 3 TD
Oklahoma WR Marvin Mims: 2 catches, 57 receiving yards, 1 TD
Oregon QB Anthony Brown: 27-of-40, 306 passing yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
Oregon RB Travis Dye: 18 carries, 153 rushing yards, 1 TD; 5 catches, 28 receiving yards
Oregon WR Dont'e Thornton: 4 catches, 90 receiving yards, 1 TD
Kennedy Brooks, Sooner O-Line Lead Oklahoma to Victory
Oregon simply had no answer for anything Oklahoma did on the ground or through the air. The Sooners running game was particularly deadly as Williams, Brooks and running backs Eric Grey and Marcus Major rushed 39 times for 312 yards.
Brooks led that effort, galloping through the Ducks' defense for 10.1 yards per carry. He and the Sooner offensive line combined to be the catalysts for the team's success as Oklahoma did more than enough on offense to withstand the Ducks' second-half scoring outburst.
Amid Brooks' own onslaught, Jason Kersey of The Athletic stated a clear formula for offensive success:
At times, it felt like Oklahoma was playing at a different speed, as noted by Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports:
RJ Young of Fox Sports was so impressed with Brooks that he thought he could play a decade in the NFL:
Brooks' excellent vision was abundantly clear on his third and final touchdown run, as he patiently traversed through Oklahoma's blocks before scampering into the end zone:
Overall, it was a sensational performance for the Brooks-led running game, which propelled Oklahoma to its sixth 11-win season in seven years.
Oregon's Shorthanded Team Has No Answer for OU
Credit goes to Oregon for fighting hard until the end, given unideal circumstances. Not only were the Ducks without their head coach (a la Oklahoma), but they were significantly shorthanded going into this game. Per Matt Prehm of 247Sports, the Ducks were without over 30 players.
That group included an elite pass-rusher and disruptor in Thibodeaux, who has declared for the NFL draft and may be chosen No. 1 overall. His absence gave Oklahoma far more time to execute their offense all evening.
Cornerback/returner Mykael Wright was also out, and the team lost linebacker Noah Sewell, safety Daymon David and cornerback Dontae Manning to injury in the third quarter.
Therefore, it wasn't a big surprise to see Oklahoma's offense dominate, although the Ducks' perseverance and fight in the second half were impressive.
The offense sprung to life in the third quarter with three touchdowns, thanks to a Dye 11-yard run and Anthony Brown touchdown passes to Dont'e Thornton and Kris Hutson.
The problem was that Oklahoma's offense still could not be stopped, scoring touchdowns in between Oregon scores. Williams found Gray on a six-yard TD pass, and Brooks scored his third touchdown on an eight-yard run.
Oregon faced tall odds to pull off the upset in San Antonio. Though the Ducks didn't get it done, they battled until the final whistle.