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Oklahoma Sooners: Playoff chances ruined by missed field goal

(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

 

No major college football program has more wins than the University of Oklahoma since World War II, so it’s logical to think that they would be involved in college football’s inaugural four-team playoff.

With Oklahoma returning a starting quarterback and a handful of offensive weapons, they had the potential to run through a rigorous Big XII schedule. The Sooners’ playoff dreams most likely ended Saturday against Kansas State, all because of a chip shot field goal that went awry.

Michael Hunnicutt, Oklahoma’s all-time leading scorer and the Big XII preseason favorite to be the conference’s top kicker, missed a 19-yard field goal with 3:53 remaining in the game. The kick, which was shorter than an extra point, would have given the Sooners a 33-31 lead over the Wildcats.

The attempt was wide left and Kansas State ran out the clock. The missed opportunity ended a roller-coaster of a game for Hunnicutt, who tied former Colorado kicker (and current Green Bay Packers kicker) Mason Crosby for the most field goals in Big XII history.

Oklahoma scored a touchdown with 10:35 left in the fourth quarter and was an extra point away from tying the game. Hunnicutt had the PAT blocked by Travis Britz, who led the country with four blocked kicks last year. The Sooners kicker also missed a 32-yard field goal as the first half ended.

Hunnicutt entered the game with an 88.6% field goal percentage, so it’s not surprising that everyone, including the opposing coach, were stunned. “The youngster that missed the field goal, he will go another hundred years without missing another field goal,” said Kansas State head coach Bill Snyder after the game.

Oklahoma’s players rallied in support of Hunnicutt, saying it wasn’t his fault.

The Sooners wasted a historic performance by receiver Sterling Shepard, who tied a school record with 15 receptions. Oklahoma had 533 yards of offense and recorded 30 first downs, but none of that mattered. Their No. 11 ranking will take a serious hit in Sunday’s AP Poll and with a soft non-conference schedule, the Sooners will have to win out and get lots of help from the teams above them in the rankings.

Kansas State is headed towards the Top 10 with the 31-30 victory, as is conference member TCU, who crushed Oklahoma State.

Kickers get a bad reputation for not being an integral part of a football team, but each year, kickers decide games that affect postseason play. Right now, Hunnicutt is the playoff-era equivalent of Boise State’s Kyle Brotzman, who crushed the hearts of Bronco Nation twice in a 2009 game against Nevada, knocking the Broncos out of a BCS bowl with two infamous misses.

Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops says that he’d trust Hunnicutt again in a big situation, but for the 2014 Oklahoma Sooners, that big situation won’t be during a playoff game.

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Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at [email protected]

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