Oklahoma vs. Florida Score, Takeaways: Goldsmiths Run Through Gators and Set Cotton Bowl Record Fast

Three months ago, Oklahoma was 1-2 with its series of five live Big 12 championships apparently in jeopardy. Fast forward to the 2020 Cotton Bowl, and the no-No. 6 Sooners have won eight straight games after blowing out the doors of Florida 7 55-20. With the win, there is a good chance Oklahoma will end the year as a top-five team, if not a top-four team, as it played its best football at the right time.

From the start, it was Oklahoma’s night. The Sooners defense selected Gators star Kyle Trask three times in the first quarter, leading them to a 17-0 lead thanks to a sixth-place finish. Of course, Florida was without its top four targets – Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney, Trevon Grimes and Jacob Copeland – and Trask, trying as he pleases, never quite got into a rhythm with his new corps, many of whom this season in the scout team spent. In his defense, that would be almost impossible. Florida had three practices after Christmas to get ready for the game, and it showed.

Despite the obstacles, Florida actually responded well to the early deficit and stood at one point with 13 unanswered points to make it 17-13 in the second quarter. But then Oklahoma responded with two quick touchdowns in the final five minutes of the first half to go up 31-13 and never look back.

The second half was when the overall depth started to show. Oklahoma’s running game, anchored by Rhamondre Stevenson, set a whopping 435 yards – a Cotton Bowl record. Stevenson took the lead with 186 yards rushing, while Marcus Majors and Seth McGowan also had great moments. The result was a school record for the Sooners’ points in a comedy.

The Gators could never catch up. The Oklahoma defense took over in the second half and did not make the normal big attack in Florida disappear again. After starting 4 of 5 on the third down, the Gators won 0 for their next 8. And although the offense yielded 521 yards, it was 6.4 yards per game after garbage. For most of the second half, the Gators hovered about 5.5 yards per game.

It was Florida’s worst innings loss since the 1996 Fiesta Bowl and the most points any team in Florida has allowed since that game. Even if Dan Mullen’s team won the SEC East and gave Alabama a spin in the SEC Championship Game, it would end 8-4 and probably be outside the top 10.

Here’s what we’ve learned from this year’s Cotton Bowl.

1. Oklahoma would make a fun playoff game of eight teams

The College Football Playoff selection committee had a more difficult task than usual this year to justify two of the four teams that made the field. The amount of dissatisfaction with the current format indicates that the field will expand at some point – probably up to eight teams. One thing that makes it possible is that the hot-hand team is going to put an end to the season. Oklahoma would be that team this year.

After starting 1-2, many people counted out the Sooners. And to be honest, it’s easy to do in this format. Choosing the four best teams leaves little, but not much room for error. But after winning seven consecutive games in the Cotton Bowl, Oklahoma played like a top-five team, even if it wasn’t there.

How would Oklahoma perform against, say, Ohio State in No. 3 in a playoff game of eight teams? It’s a fun thought exercise. It is not one that we will see play out anytime soon, but if / when it happens, it can give credibility that teams that reach a climax at the right time are just as capable of winning a national championship as the team which has the highest position.

2. Florida had an example of its future

One of the most exhausting #embracedebates of this game is Florida’s position to play the Cotton Bowl so briefly. As mentioned above, many key players on either side of the ball either chose or could not play due to COVID-19. This is the story of college football in 2020. We have rarely seen teams at full strength for some time. In fact, Mullen said the Gators were so tight-lipped at certain positions that they simply could not play the game, but that they chose to continue with numerous players who have been in the scout team this season.

“It was not the 2020 soccer team you saw. There were about 25 guys missing in the 2020 soccer team tonight,
he said after the Cotton Bowl. ‘It was a good start for us [to 2021]. ”

Mullen did him well to give essential opportunities to other players. QB Emory Jones got a lot more playing time this season than he had in any game and showed some nice moments of running and throwing. In fact, it tied for the first time in the team with 60 yards on 10 rushing attempts and an attack while throwing 86 yards. And with Pitts, Grimes, Toney and Copeland out, Florida had a new receiver group. A total of 12 different players received at least one pass for 271 meters.

The results were a mixed bag – there were a lot of drops – but Mullen knew what he was up against and decided to prepare the guys for next year. This is not to excuse the actions of Gators or to say that they do not care about being there or to downplay what Oklahoma has done. This is just the reality of the situation.

3. Oklahoma’s defense lived up to the hype

For most of the second half of the season, there was talk of how improved Oklahoma’s defense was under coordinator Alex Grinch. It turned up in this match. Yes, Florida was exhausted from its best players. Yes, the Gators got more than 500 yards offended by the time the final whistle blew. But you have to look deeper. The Sooners started hot with three takeaways and in the second half there were lights. Florida was unable to convert a first-round pick after getting four of his first five. Four of the six drives in the second half were 22 yards or less.

Oklahoma’s defensive front has played a major role in its success. Defensive end Ronnie Perkins and linebackers David Ugwoegbu and Nik Bonitto were everywhere in the trenches and stopped the plays before they started. This disruption was the key to making Florida’s normally powerful violation much less effective.

It was never a barred defense and the season-long numbers were inflated due to some bad Big 12 offenses, but this group played well. That strong defensive effort helped the Sooners pull away in the second half.