Coming into the season Spencer Rattler was the unquestioned starter and even the Heisman favorite after putting up some pretty gaudy numbers last season in leading Oklahoma to the Big 12 title and a win over Florida in the Cotton Bowl Classic.
The Sooners were also picked by many analysts to win the national championship coming into the season.
Caleb Williams, a multi-talented freshman from Washington, D.C., was supposed to be the backup and learn while Rattler handled things this season and then left early for the NFL draft.
Best-Laid Plans Of Mice & Men
On Saturday in Dallas, Texas, in the Red River Rivalry at the Cotton Bowl, with the Sooners trailing archrival Texas 28-7, all of that changed.
Riley had seen enough of Rattler’s erratic play and inserted Williams, who’s drawn similarities to Cowboys and former Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott for his arm, legs and toughness.
Williams was magnificent in leading the team back from 21-point and 18-point deficits to win the highest-scoring Red River Rivalry ever (55-48) on a touchdown run with three seconds left.
The threat of Williams running is an added dimension that Riley likes in his offense.
That threat was never more apparent than on Williams’ first snap, when he took one 66 yards to the house.
A quarterback controversy at Oklahoma? (of course not)
That's Caleb Williams scooting 66 yards for a TD!pic.twitter.com/2Nq4LURPys
— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) October 9, 2021
That run inspired running back Kennedy Brooks’ 32-yard game-winning scamper with three seconds left to stun the “Hook Em” fans in burnt orange. The defense was worried about the dual-threat ability of Williams and fell asleep. CW13 finished with 299 total yards and three total touchdowns.
History In The Making
This might seem like a sudden switch, but the transition may have actually begun during the Sooners’ spring game when Williams thoroughly outplayed Rattler and then proceeded to continue to do so all through fall camp.
Reports out of Norman were this highly touted freshman was ready to contribute this year and it was gonna be hard for Riley to keep the talented 18-year-old on the bench.
When Rattler got off to a pedestrian start the grumbling for Williams grew louder on the campus in Norman.
Sucks to see Spencer rattler struggle he was really humble in high school
— ry (@NotBigBaIIerRy) October 9, 2021
Riley stuck to his guns and stayed with Rattler, although he and the offense struggled weekly.
The Sooners nearly lost to Tulane, West Virginia, Nebraska and Kansas State. All four games were decided by seven points or less, and the Sooners went into each game as multiple-touchdown favorites.
Rattler was not impressive in any start and was booed in a lackluster 16-13 home win over WVA. The team actually won a couple of those nail-biters in spite of him.
Now Riley has to do some damage control and figure out who his starter is going forward.
Reports out of Norman as of Monday and Tuesday were that Rattler was working with the second team and Williams is getting starter reps.
Riley refuses to name a starter publicly at this time.
Spencer Rattler's draft stock this season pic.twitter.com/8ekIvUJKXs
— NickMan 🎃 (@BrokenNickMan16) October 9, 2021
ESPN and SEC Network personality Paul Finebaum said this about the controversy:
“I might give Spencer another shot. It worked for Bo Nix and Auburn two weeks ago. I think Lincoln Riley can figure that one out.”
What a turn of events in Oklahoma. College quarterback controversies are always juicy stuff.