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'Our guys deserved that moment': What head coach Lincoln Riley said after 55-20 win over No. 7 Florida in Cotton Bowl

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Lincoln Riley

Head coach Linocln Riley speaks after the Sooners defeated Florida in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 30.

No. 6 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) defeated No. 7 Florida, 55-20, Wednesday night in the Cotton Bowl. 

The Sooners broke the bowl record for total yards in a game and also broke the team record for points scored in a bowl game. The defense held the Gators to just 20 points, only 11 days after Florida torched No. 1 Alabama for 46 points in the SEC Championship.

Here’s what head coach Lincoln Riley said after the game:

Opening statement

“What a great night for Oklahoma football. A night that our team and everybody associated with it is very proud. I know our former players, former coaches, our fans, I know they certainly enjoyed that one. So what a great night to win. Absolutely one of the most elite bowl games that there's ever been and ever will be in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl. 

“It's very meaningful to us with the way the year has gone for everybody to be able to look at some of the tough things and not see obstacles but see opportunities. It's been our mindset. And I really commend our players and our staff, because we felt that way the entire year and really closed so strong. (It was) really fun to be able to win the Big 12 championship 10 days ago and come back and play like we did here tonight. It's very special. Because of this year, we'll remember this one forever. “

On defense, respect for Florida quarterback Kyle Trask

“Our guys did a good job. We capitalized on a couple of mistakes they made. We were able a couple of times to confuse the quarterback and coverage. And he let go a couple of throws that weren't quite as decisive as what we're used to seeing him make. And our guys did a tremendous job with it. It says a lot about it. We have the most respect for that offense, for Kyle Trask who undoubtedly has been one of the best quarterbacks in the country this year.

“I told him after the game, I know this is my profession but, also, as just a fan of college football, I very much appreciate him for what he did in high school, hanging through it when a lot of other people would have left. What he did playing in this game tonight, even through he's got a really bright future ahead of him. I very, very much appreciate it. I hope college football can keep people like Kyle Trask involved. And all the respect in the world for him.”

On running game

“We were a little sloppy in the passing game early. Had a couple of things that we missed and a couple that we didn't catch, and we were just a little sloppy there.

"The run really got us going. It was easily the best we've ran the ball all year. I thought our offensive line played outstanding because that's still a super talented defensive front that we just played against. 

“And so I thought our O-line was outstanding. I thought probably the best game we've played all year. And I thought ... (that) was easily the best game our backs played this year other than the (Rhamondre) Stevenson fumble. We ran through tackles. Those were some tackles that, at different times this year, we were ending up on the ground. 

“Our guys ran aggressive. I thought the line really made them confident. And all three of those guys had big, big plays for us. So I was excited about certainly the way Rhamondre played. I can't say how proud I am about the way Marcus Major and Seth McGowan stepped up. Those are two guys that really did a great job.”

On momentum into offseason

“It's obviously good. Excited about the way we finished. Excited about what this team could be next year. We'll definitely enjoy it quickly on the ride home. We have got exit meetings with our guys tomorrow and then we don't see our guys for 25 days, you know, with our schedule here, (it's) going to be a little different. 

“We'll certainly be excited to get back, though. ... Just the attitude and just kind of the overall environment within our team — within our program — (I) like where that's at. A ton of young, exciting players that grew and learned so much this year and have a chance to be better for it. But it's going to be a great challenge to us to continue to climb because these last several teams have really set the bar high. I think we all sense the opportunity ahead of us.”

On Malcolm Kelly freestyle celebration after win

“Oh, that was the best, the old Malcolm Kelly. I know just about every word to that as well. That was pretty cool. Our guys, they deserved that moment, man. Winning is hard, and it's hard to do it here at the end against great competition. 

"Yeah, they deserve that moment. So those guys are happy and enjoying the moment with each other. There's not a whole lot that makes you feel better than that. I know quite a bit of it, honestly. I don't know if I can do it a cappella right now, but it's certainly not the first time I've heard it, let's put it that way.”

On direction of defense

“Oh, I couldn't be more excited about the direction of our program defensively. And I give our players a ton of credit. I give coach (Alex) Grinch, (and) our defensive staff, a ton of credit. They've done just a fabulous job. It's been — so far, two years in — it's been what we hoped it would be. 

“I think we sat here after last season and said, 'It's a great start, but we will be disappointed if it's not a whole lot better in year two.' And it was better. And now we're going to sit here and say, 'Really good two-year run, made a lot of improvements, love the way our guys are playing and improving, and we expect it to be a heck of a lot better in year three.'”

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