ARLINGTON, Texas – Lincoln Riley will remember this Oklahoma season for a long time. It took a lot to get to the end of it — with two significant trophies.
The No. 8 Sooners navigated through the season played under the cloud of a pandemic, and their first 0-2 start in Big 12 play since 1998, to win their sixth conference title in a row, then wrapped it up with an overwhelming 55-20 win over 10th-ranked SEC runner-up Florida on Wednesday night in the Cotton Bowl — the first New Year's Six game played.
“It's very meaningful to us with the way the year has gone for everybody to be able to look at the tough things and not see obstacles, but see opportunities,” Riley said. “It's been our mindset. We felt that way the entire year and really closed so strong.”
Spencer Rattler threw for three touchdowns and ran for another score, and Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for 186 yards for the Sooners (9-2, No. 6 CFP), who won the Cotton Bowl in the same NFL stadium where 11 days earlier they claimed their latest Big 12 title. They led 17-0 in the first seven minutes on way to the most points and yards (684) they have ever had in a bowl game.
The Sooners had 435 yards rushing, including 110 from freshman Marcus Major. They averaged 10.52 yards per play overall, the most ever against a Power 5 opponent in a bowl game, according to STATS.
Rattler threw a 27-yard TD pass to fellow freshman Marvin Mims on the game's opening drive, and Florida's first possession ended with Tre Norwood's 45-yard interception return for a touchdown. That was the first of three picks thrown by Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Kyle Trask in the first quarter, after only five all season.
“A couple of times, we confused their quarterback with coverage, and he let go of a couple of throws that weren't as decisive as we usually see him make" Riley said.
Oklahoma played in its sixth consecutive New Year's Six bowl game, but the last three seasons had lost College Football Playoffs semifinal games while giving up an average of 54 points to different SEC teams.