Sooners searching for answers after 40-6 bowl loss

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ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Championship droughts and multi-loss seasons are not what people have come to expect at Oklahoma under coach Bob Stoops.

Following what at times seemed to be a half-hearted effort by the Sooners in their 40-6 loss to No. 18 Clemson on Monday in the Russell Athletic Bowl, he acknowledged that Oklahoma did not live up to that standard against the Tigers.

Oklahoma fell behind 27-0 early and turned the ball over five times on the way to finishing just two points shy of tying its worst bowl loss — a 36-point drubbing at the hands of USC in the 2005 Orange Bowl.

"When I first took the job all you had to do was beat Texas, Stoops said. "Not anymore."

Cole Stoudt threw for three touchdowns and ran for another for a Clemson team that had four scoring drives of at least 50 yards.

"It all comes down to who makes the big plays and we made the most this game," Stoudt said. "We really didn't hit the brakes at all tonight."

The Tigers (10-3) reached double-digit victories for the fourth consecutive season. Clemson was 10-4 in 2011, 11-2 in 2012 and 11-2 in 2013.

Stoudt was 26 for 36 for a season-high 319 yards. He was sacked four times, but Clemson never turned the ball over. Meanwhile, the Tigers, who came in ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense, held the Sooners' offense to just 275 yards.

Oklahoma (8-5) had five turnovers, including three interceptions by Trevor Knight. The sophomore finished 17 for 37 for 103 yards.

Asked about the quarterback position going forward, Stoops said could it could certainly feature a new face.

"It's fair to say quarterback position is open," Stoops said. "With guys we have coming in and inconsistency we have overall. But every position is open come spring time. I'm not going to sit here and create a problem, but of course there will be competition."

The Sooners entered the game averaging nearly 40 points but didn't score until late in the fourth quarter.

Clemson was efficient in all phases but was also the beneficiary of three early Sooners turnovers in building a 27-0 halftime lead. A 47-yard interception return for a touchdown by Ben Boulware was part of a 17-point first quarter.

Stoudt completed his first six passes and finished the half with a pair of touchdown throws — a 65-yarder to Artavis Scott and a 26-yarder to Mike Williams.

Tigers kicker Ammon Lapkip also did his part to deepen the hole for Oklahoma, connecting on a pair of field goals, including a career long from 49 yards in the second quarter.

The Sooners were out of sync on both sides of the ball during the opening 30 minutes.

Knight was just 5 for 14, with a pair of interceptions. Samaje Perine rushed for 62 yards but also had a fumble inside the Tigers 25 that ended the Sooners' best drive late in the second quarter.

Trailing 20-0, Oklahoma's defense nearly grabbed a bit of momentum when defensive end Charles Tapper appeared to tip, intercept and return Stoudt's pass for a touchdown. But the play was called back for offside.

Stoudt then promptly hooked up with Williams for the Tigers' final scoring play of the half.

"You can't play one-handed," Stoops said. "I thought overall we did a really nice job of running the football, but the lack of execution in the passing game was a major factor as well

"We had our chances. We had our shots, but we didn't make anything happen."

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