NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 08: Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Oklahoma Sooners walks on the field during the game against the UCLA Bruins at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 8, 2018 in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners defeated the Bruins 49-21. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Brett Deering/Getty Images

Quarterback Kyler Murray and the fifth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners narrowly avoided a massive upset with a 28-21 overtime victory Saturday night against the Army Black Knights at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma.

Murray connected with CeeDee Lamb for a 10-yard touchdown on the second play of OT after kicker Austin Seibert missed a 33-yard field goal as time expired in the fourth quarter. The OU defense made a stop on the ensuing Army drive to clinch the win.

The Sooners managed to remain unbeaten despite losing the total yardage battle (379-355) and holding the ball for just over 15 minutes compared to nearly 45 for the Knights during regulation.

          

Kyler Murray Boosts Heisman Hopes By Helping Sooners Avoid Upset

Oklahoma almost suffering a disastrous loss had little to do with Murray.

The 21-year-old Heisman Trophy contender put together another strong performance. He completed 11 of his 15 throws for 165 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He added seven carries for 77 yards, including an electric 33-yard TD run in the second quarter.

Murray simply didn’t have much time with the ball in his hands. Army was able to eat up large portions of the clock with almost every drive because the OU defense couldn’t get off the field on third down. It kept the game close throughout and limited the dual-threat QB’s numbers.

The Texas native did everything in his power to will the Sooners over the finish line, though. He drove OU down the field twice in the fourth quarter. The running game got stuffed twice from the one-yard line on the first try and the second drive ended with Seibert’s missed field goal.

Murray came up clutch in overtime, however, and the Oklahoma defense finally got a quick stop to end the drama. Beating Army isn’t usually much of a resume builder for the Heisman, but without their star quarterback it’s possible the Knights complete the upset.

                  

Oklahoma Run Defense Will Benefit From Army Test

Army is always a risky opponent for a Power Five team to schedule. The program’s run-oriented offense is a major challenge for any defensive front, and the Sooners almost learned that the hard way Saturday.

The Knights ran for 339 yards and three touchdowns on an astonishing 78 carries. They overpowered the Sooners in the trenches and were able to sustain several drives because of it. All three of their scores came after a drive of at least eight minutes.

Since Oklahoma was able to pull out the win, the situation becomes more of a learning experience than a brutal outing that could’ve cost the team its championship hopes. Now the process of getting the mistakes in the front seven fixed must begin in earnest.

Ultimately, teams that win national titles usually have a couple games like this during the season. The question is whether they come away a better team for the experience or make the same mistakes in future weeks and eventually suffer a crushing defeat.

The answer for the Sooners will come over the next few months, but the blueprint for fixing the run defense is now available after getting torched by Army.

             

Knights Have Opportunity To Run Table After Near Shocker

Army couldn’t deliver what would have likely held up as one of the 2018 season’s biggest upsets.

Nevertheless, the strong effort showcases the Knights’ upside and their schedule for the rest of the campaign is favorable. Their game next week against the Buffalo Bulls is probably the toughest on the slate. A win there could spark an extended winning streak, potentially even winning out to finish 10-2.

Quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. and the running back tandem of Kell Walker and Darnell Woolfolk will be a nightmare to defend all year. In addition, the Army offensive line showed Saturday it’s capable of winning battles against the highly rated prospects from Oklahoma.

The optimism of what lies ahead won’t immediately take away the sting from Saturday’s loss. But the outlook is bright for Army despite letting one slip away against a title contender.

             

What’s Next?

Oklahoma must bounce back from the lackluster performance quickly as it returns to Big 12 play against the Baylor Bears next Saturday.

Army is set for another matchup with an undefeated opponent next Saturday when it travels to Western New York for a clash with 4-0 Buffalo.

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