3 Sooners Takeaways: Postgame Controversy Explained After 28-11 Win Over SMU

Oklahoma beat SMU 28-11 on Saturday, but it was a photo after the game with offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby and former Baylor coach Art Briles that made all the headlines.

Monday, September 11th 2023, 7:03 am

By: Ryan Welton


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In this very space last week, after a 73-0 Oklahoma win over Arkansas State, it was said that a victory that dominant would be hard to top. This week's 28-11 win over Southern Methodist was closer than many expected, not firmly decided until the fourth quarter.

The faithful in crimson and cream are feeling antsy after Week 2, especially when this victory was coupled with a dominant Texas win over Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Perhaps, Texas is back, indeed. But going a bit more 'bigger picture,' perhaps both Oklahoma and Texas are going to do just fine in the SEC.

You know, where it "means more."

SMU had cut the Oklahoma lead to 14-11 in Norman with 12:09 left to play in the game on a Preston Stone pass to Stone Eby. Suddenly, not only did it look like the Mustangs would cover the 16-point spread, they had a chance to win the game outright. Coach Brent Venables noted after the game that this team a year ago might not have fared as well in a tight situation.

But this Oklahoma Team No. 129 got it together, fast.

Quarterback Dillon Gabriel found Jalil Farooq for a 21-yard score with 9:01 to play to extend the Oklahoma lead to 21-11. Marcus Major was on the receiving end of another touchdown pass just a couple of minutes later. The final tally was had, 28-11, an infamous score in Sooner-land. No. 2 Oklahoma shockingly lost to Kansas by that score in 1984.

Scorigami it was not.

For what it's worth though, Saturday night was the second time OU has beaten SMU 28-11. Happened in 1970. The Sooners also defeated Baylor by this score in 1974.

Unfortunately, that Baylor reference is not the only one in these Takeaways. The talk of Sooner Nation quickly moved from a 28-11 win and a 2-0 start to something that happened on the field after the game.

Postgame Controversy: Art Briles Seen On Owen Field With OC Jeff Lebby

Reporter Parker Thune spotted former Baylor head football coach Art Briles on Owen Field, in Sooners gear, with his son-in-law Jeff Lebby, Oklahoma's offensive coordinator. Briles was Baylor's coach during a scandal a decade ago in which it was found that he had failed to hold players to account or even investigate dozens of sexual assaults. He was dismissed from the university in 2016, in disgrace.

Lebby was also a coach at Baylor during that period and was named in reports at that time as one of the coaches who allegedly failed to act when told about an assault.

After the game, reporter Guerin Emig, with Sellout-Crowd.com, asked about Briles' appearance on the field. Venables had only learned of it after the fact, and then soon after, so did University of Oklahoma Athletic Director Joe Castiglione. Joe C issued a statement.

Lebby was asked about it, too. He defended Briles' presence on the field, saying that the former Baylor coach is "the grandfather of my two kids."

The only problem here is that the university had reportedly set boundaries with Lebby regarding his father-in-law. The specifics of those boundaries aren't known, but one would have to imagine that being on Owen Field in branded gear crossed that line.

It's not a 'takeaway,' but it's what the 2023 OU-SMU game will be remembered for mostly.

Now for three on-the-field takeaways:

Takeaway 1: Oklahoma's Scoring Defense Was Really Good

Context is required for this one considering SMU plays in the AAC, but the Mustangs averaged 37.2 points per game in 2022. The Sooners held SMU to three points until the fourth quarter.

The last time Oklahoma held its opponents to only three points through seven quarters was in 1999, when Baylor scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter of Game No. 2 of the Bob Stoops era, a 41-10 Sooners victory.

Takeaway 2: Dillon Gabriel Did His Job

Before anybody in Sooner Nation started talking about Jeff Lebby and his father-in-law Saturday night, they were growing anxious about his offense. However, the source of the concern wasn't Oklahoma's ability to move the ball. It was that the Sooners had only scored 14 points through three quarters.

And much of the consternation was unfairly placed on the shoulders of senior quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who went 19 for 27 and four touchdowns on 176 passing yards.

No interceptions. No fumbles. A clean sheet.

Takeaway 3: Game Still Felt Closer Than It Should Have Been

The expectations are so high, and every football fan gets caught up in what they see across the country. Colorado is the talk of college football, and Texas looked great against Alabama.

Fans who follow the Sooners closely know the sport well, and they can read the stat sheets. Nevertheless, a game like this one against SMU makes it feel like the Sooners are vulnerable -- if not against Tulsa then against Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium in two weeks.

That might be why Oklahoma fell a spot this week in the Associated Press poll.

Sooners have a chance to pass the proverbial eye test yet again next week, at 2:30 p.m., against Tulsa in Tulsa, in a game that will air on ESPN2.


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