Breaking
February 25, 2024

Arizona’s Defense Forces 6 Turnovers to Beat Oklahoma in Alamo Bowl Comeback

AiBot
Written by AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Dec 29, 2023

The 14th-ranked Arizona Wildcats put on a dominant defensive performance, forcing 6 turnovers, to come back and beat the 12th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners 38-24 in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Thursday night.

Wildcats Lean on Defense to Overcome Early Deficit

The Sooners jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead behind freshman quarterback Jackson Arnold, who got the surprise start after Dillon Gabriel entered the transfer portal earlier this month. However, Arizona’s defense tightened up and created multiple turnovers to shift momentum.

The Wildcats forced 6 total turnovers on the night – 3 fumbles and 3 interceptions. The most pivotal came in the third quarter, when Arizona defensive lineman Hunter Echols stripped Arnold and returned the fumble 87 yards for a touchdown to give the Wildcats their first lead at 24-21.

Arizona would go on to score 14 unanswered points in the second half to seal the victory. According to ESPN, it’s the most turnovers the Sooners have committed in a bowl game in program history.

McMillan and Cowing Lead Potent Arizona Offense

On offense, quarterback Jayden de Laura had a stellar performance, throwing for 319 yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions on 15-of-25 passing. Wide receiver Jacob Cowing was his top target with 8 catches for 152 yards, including a 77-yard score.

Running back Michael Wiley rushed for two second half touchdowns to put the game away. Receiver Dorian Singer made an acrobatic 10-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter on 4th down to get Arizona’s comeback rolling.

“”Our offense really handled adversity in the first and second quarter,” said Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch. “Really proud of how they regrouped.”

What This Win Means for Both Programs Moving Forward

The victory caps off a stunning turnaround campaign for Fisch in his second season after winning just one game last year. Arizona ends 2022 on a 7-game winning streak, during which they knocked off nationally ranked rivals like UCLA and arch-nemesis Arizona State.

“”There was just never a point where anyone gave up on this team,” Fisch said about this year’s historic season.

For Oklahoma, the loss puts a damper on an otherwise respectable debut for new head coach Brent Venables. His team finishes 2022 with a 6-7 record after the bowl defeat.

Venables didn’t sugarcoat his team’s multitude of giveaways in the game, calling it “the worst of the year in every way.” But he’s optimistic about next season with Arnold confirmed as the starter.

“”I’m excited for him and his future,” Venables said about his freshman quarterback. “The bowl game doesn’t change our thoughts on him.”

Key Stats and Takeaways

Turnovers

  • Arizona forced 6 Oklahoma turnovers (3 fumbles, 3 interceptions)
    • Included Hunter Echols’ 87-yard fumble return TD
  • Most turnovers OU has committed in a bowl game ever

Total Yards

  • Arizona: 466 total yards (319 passing, 147 rushing)
  • Oklahoma: 411 total yards (250 passing, 161 rushing)

3rd Down Conversions

  • Arizona: 57% on 7 of 14
  • Oklahoma: 31% on 4 of 13

Sacks

  • Arizona: 6 sacks
  • Oklahoma: 2 sacks

Long Plays

  • Arizona
    • Jacob Cowing 77-yard TD catch
    • Michael Wiley 30-yard TD run
  • Oklahoma
    • Brayden Willis 75-yard TD catch

Game Summary

Quarter Arizona Oklahoma
1 0 14
2 10 7
3 14 0
4 14 3
Final 38 24

Players of the Game

Arizona

  • QB Jayden de Laura: 319 passing yards, 2 TD, 15/25 passing
  • WR Jacob Cowing: 8 catches, 152 yards, 1 TD
  • DL Hunter Echols: Fumble return TD, other key forced fumble

Oklahoma

  • QB Jackson Arnold: 210 passing yards, 1 TD, 3 INT
  • WR Brayden Willis: 4 catches, 94 yards, 1 TD
  • RB Jovantae Barnes: 11 rushes, 65 yards

What This Means Going Forward

The Wildcats will likely carry momentum from this season-ending hot streak into 2023. Coach Fisch has Arizona looking like a legit Pac-12 contender again. They return most of their offensive weapons like de Laura, Cowing and Wiley. The key will be maintaining defensive consistency.

For Oklahoma, new coach Venables still has work ahead in getting the Sooners back among the elite. But Arnold seems poised to stabilize the quarterback position after Caleb Williams’ transfer last year. Improving Oklahoma’s turnover margin and shaky defense has to be the top priority moving into next season after this bowl debacle.

With elite offensive weapons and promise on defense, Arizona appears to be a program officially on the rise under Fisch. Oklahoma faces a longer path back to Big 12 dominance, but the future remains bright in Norman behind Arnold and Venables’ leadership. Thursday’s Alamo Bowl displayed two teams trending in opposite directions.

AiBot

AiBot

Author

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

Related Post