Originally posted on Crystal Ball Run  |  Last updated 11/5/11

One of the oldest sayings about the sport of football is that the beauty lies in “the game, within the game.” As it pertains to Oklahoma’s 41-25 win against Texas A&M Saturday, the phrase needs to be tweaked just a bit. In this case, the real nuance is the “story, within the story.”

The story of course is that Oklahoma again notched another impressive win, proving that when their head is screwed on right, the Sooners are as good as anyone in college football. The game proved to be a lot more one-sided than the final score indicated, thanks to a big 28-point third quarter from Oklahoma. It was aided by two Ryan Tannehill interceptions, and turned a relatively tight 13-10 halftime lead for the Sooners, into a 41-10 blowout before the start of the fourth quarter. Oklahoma survied two late A&M scores and a botched onside kick attempt to hold on for the win.

However as we said, Saturday wasn't just about a victory for Oklahoma. It was also about a potentially crushing loss as well.

That’s because the story within the story was this: In the midst of that big third quarter rally, Oklahoma All-American wide receiver Ryan Broyles suffered a major knee injury, which has just been reported by Oklahoma beat writer John Hoover as a torn ACL. Bob Stoops later confirmed the injury at his press conference and announced that Broyles will not return this season. The career of Oklahoma- and college football's- all-time leader in receptions is over.

 

In a season full of devastating injuries across college football (including iMarcus Lattimore, Justin Hunter, Tyler Bray amongst others), this very well could be the most devastating of all. Broyles entered Saturday ranked third in college football in total receptions (81), and second in yards with 1,070, with two more catches for 87 yards before suffering the injury. With Broyles missing the remainder of the season, it’s a crushing blow to a Sooners offense which was ranked second in the country in passing yards entering Saturday (296 a contest) and gets most of its production from the incredible chemistry between Broyles and quarterback Landry Jones. Sadly, it seems as though the two will never play pitch-and-catch in the crimson and cream again.

 

And if you’re a Sooners fan, probably the most disappointing aspect of the injury (above the fact that Broyles was one of the most beloved players on the roster), was that for the first time in a long time, the team seemed to be hitting its stride. After a loss two weeks ago to Texas Tech at home, Oklahoma put the hurting on Kansas State, beating Bill Synder’s boys 52-17 on the road last Saturday. It ended a seven-game win streak to open the season for the Wildcats, and threw Oklahoma right back into the discussion as arguably the best one-loss team in all of college football. That’s no small deal as undefeated teams continue to fall across the country.

Maybe even more impressive on Saturday was the Sooners continued evolution as a balanced offense against Texas A&M. After Jones spent last Saturday using K-State’s secondary as target practice (throwing for 505 yards in the process), the win over the Aggies proved that Oklahoma can run the ball too. Roy Finch had 99 yards on 25 carries, and back-up quarterback Blake Bell added two rushing touchdowns as well. That rushing attack could become all the more important if Broyles is out for an extended period of time.

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk a bit about Texas A&M in this space, if only because the Aggies really have turned into a self-fulfilling prophecy of a football team. A club which started the season ranked by some outlets in the Top 10 (not Crystal Ball Run, thank you very much!) is now just 5-4, and in the midst of their second two-game losing streak of the season. The Aggies were tripped up last Saturday against Missouri at home, losing in overtime, after blowing a 28-17 lead.

And truthfully, that’s been the name of the game in Aggie-land all year; this team can play with anyone in the country for two quarters, but rarely two halves. It started most famously back on September 24 when they blew a 20-3 halftime lead against Oklahoma State and lost 30-29 in a matchup of top ranked teams. They then followed it up with a second half meltdown against Arkansas the following week as well, blowing a 35-17 lead in that one, eventually losing 42-38.

Other than those massive blown leads, there doesn’t appear to be any one common denominator in those losses, but it is clear that this is just not the same team that won nine games a year ago. Despite returning most of their defense (they did however lose No. 2 overall pick Von Miller in the NFL Draft), the Aggies ranked just 66th in scoring defense entering Saturday, and will continue to drop thanks to the 41 points Oklahoma put up on them in the loss. Offensively, quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been entirely too carless with the ball, throwing 10 interceptions total this season, after tossing just six in seven starts last year. His receivers didn't help him against Oklahoma, with a handful of big drops.

Simply put, Saturday was another tough loss in a season full of them for the Aggies. Things hardly get easier, with two ranked teams (Kansas State and Texas) left on the schedule.

On Saturday in Norman, there truly was little reason to celebrate.

Not just for the losing team, but the winning one as well.

For all his columns, articles and opinions on college football, follow Aaron Torres on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.

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