OU beats Texas A&M, but loses Broyles
With star Ryan Broyles out for the season, the Sooners must find other playmakers
NORMAN, Okla. -- From inside the Sooners locker room came a pair of roars. And for a fleeting second, those outside wondered.
Maybe Ryan Broyles really wasn't out for the season. Maybe didn't tear his ACL. Maybe hadn't caught his final pass in a crimson uniform.
But moments later, all hope was quashed, as Bob Stoops revealed the worst. Broyles was out for the year. Did tear his ACL. And will never catch another pass at Oklahoma.
"It's just deflating for him," Stoops said. "And for all of us."
Following a competitive first half, the Sooners sent Texas A&M on to the SEC with a 41-25 thumping -- the Aggies' seventh straight loss to OU in Norman.
After punting to open the third quarter, the Sooners scored touchdowns on four straight possessions to go up 31 points.
Of course, nobody leaving Owen Field was thinking about that. Nobody on the OU sideline, either.
"Took a lot from it," Stoops said of the win. "Your heart just dropped when you first heard it."
On the Sooners' third scoring drive of the half, quarterback Landry Jones found Broyles slicing open for a 30-yard reception along the sideline. But with Texas A&M's Tony Hurd Jr. hanging on to his jersey, Broyles tried to cut past Trent Hunter. Instead, as he planted with his left leg, the ligaments gave out.
"Just a bad deal," said Jones, who walked over and said a prayer for Broyles as he lie writhing in pain on the medical table. "You hate for something like that to happen to such a good guy."
Broyles will wait a couple of weeks then undergo surgery and prepare for the NFL Draft.
"Ryan had a simile on his face, he was upbeat, "Stoops said. "He knows he has challenge in front of him, and he'll face it."
By handling the Aggies, the sixth-ranked Sooners remained in the thick of the national championship race. But the road got a lot tougher without No. 85 in the lineup.
A Biletnikoff finalist in 2010, Broyles was well on his way to winning the award this season, piling up 83 catches, 1,157 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns. Broyles had already broken the FBS career receptions record, and he was within striking distance of taking down the career receiving yardage record, too.
"He was our impact player," said defensive end Ronnell Lewis, one of many Sooners who seemed to be stunned by the injury after the game.
"I really can't put into words how this is going to affect the team, but we are going to bounce back. Those are going to be big shoes to fill, but we have the guys and the playmakers who can step up and fill those shoes."
The pressure is now on Jones and the rest of the offense, which just last week lost leading rusher Dominique Whaley to a season-ending ankle injury.
"I feel for Ryan," said offensive coordinator Josh Heupel. "But when someone goes down the next guy has to step up and play at a high level."
No one on the OU roster can step up to Broyles' level. But Heupel and Jones still have enough firepower to work with thanks to the midseason emergence of scatback Roy Finch and wideout Jaz Reynolds, who continue to have highlight-reel worthy performances.
Finch totaled 120 all-purpose yards on 30 touches, showing he can shoulder the workload.
Reynolds snagged a touchdown catch with one hand for the second consecutive week and finished with 75 yards receiving on six receptions.
"We still have a good team," Jones said. "Football is not a one-person sport."
But Broyles was one unbelievable player. One the Sooners will miss. This season, and beyond.
Jake Trotter covers University of Oklahoma football for SoonerNation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submit questions to his mailbag and look for answers every Friday.
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