Bring on Bedlam
For those individuals outside of the state of Oklahoma who may not realize the significance of next week’s in-state rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, rest assured the Sooners recognize the significance of this contest.
While the Cowboys will have the unusual distinction of being the higher ranked team in this year’s renewal of this rivalry, OU has won nine of the last 10 meetings in this series. In addition, head coach Bob Stoops boasts a 7-1 head-to-head record against OSU head coach Mike Gundy.
“It means a lot,” said defensive end Charles Tapper. “It is one of the biggest rivalry games in the country. Going against our in-state rival is going to mean a lot for the fans and the fans mean a lot to us. Satisfying the fans means a lot to me especially because they come out there and they help us on third downs and messing up the quarterbacks and their calls.”
The Sooners will be seeking their look for their 84th victory against in-state rival Oklahoma State. The 83 wins against the Cowboys are the Sooners’ highest total against any opponent. While Gundy has taken the Cowboys to new heights since being named head coach in 2005, OU owns a 91-27 (.771) overall record compared to OSU’s 77-36 (.681) mark.
But native Oklahomans like senior cornerback Aaron Colvin know you can throw out the records when these two teams meet.
“You hear a lot about it being from Tulsa,” Colvin added. “That’s one of our goals every year to win this game. It’s Bedlam; that means bragging rights for an entire year if you win.”
Over the past two weeks, OU has built upon its success in running game, posting 706 net rushing yards – 405 vs. Iowa State (11/16) and 301 at Kansas State (11/23), the highest total amassed by the Sooners in back-to-back games under Stoops. In fact, it’s the best total registered by OU in consecutive games since 1997.
Currently, the Sooners rank second in the Big 12 and 16th in the nation in rushing, averaging 242.3 yards per game.
Senior running back Brennan Clay registered a career-high 200 rushing yards at Kansas State and is third in the Big 12 (6.3 yards per carry). Clay is third in the Big 12 with 6.3 yards per carry, and OU is 4-0 when he has a 100-yard game. Teammate Roy Finch sits right behind Clay with an average of 6.0 yards per carry.
“Brennan is a fabulous, fabulous student-athlete and player,” head coach Bob Stoops commented on Monday. “He’s consistent, positive in every way. You can always rely on him, and he’s shown that this year. I think he’s in the top two or three in our league in yards-per-carry, and he’s done it over and over.
"He’s got a great pace to him and great vision to find the spaces. He had some great ones the other night where he just waited long enough and there it was. He’s had a great year.”
The Sooners are 62-1 (.984) under Stoops (8-0 in 2013) when rushing for 200 or more yards, including 34 straight wins. Busting off big runs has been a huge part of OU’s offensive success in 2013 as both Clay and fellow senior Roy Finch rank third and fourth, respectively, in the conference in terms of yards per carry.
According to Stoops, in addition to his patience in setting up blocks, Clay possesses solid speed and has also benefitting from tenacious blocking downfield.
“You don’t see him get caught,” Stoops continued. “He has excellent speed. I think we’ve done a better job as a team of blocking downfield. And some of the design of our runs too with the quarterback’s ability to run to help split people a little bit and it has given people some opportunities.”
Offensive lineman Darryl Williams says it will be key to continue to rush the ball well against Oklahoma State.
“Every game it is crucial to establish the running game,” Williams stated. “I think both games we have lost, our running game wasn’t what it should have been. So it is always crucial.”
BIG 12 LEADERS
YARDS PER CARRY
1. Lache Seastrunk (Baylor) 8.7
2. Shock Linwood (Baylor) 7.0
3. Brennan Clay (OU) 6.3
4. Roy Finch (OU) 6.0
5. Daniel Sams (KSU) 5.4
Rush Defense and Second-Half Success
Aside from OU’s offensive success in the rushing game, the defense has also done well at limiting its opponents on the ground. The Sooners are second in the Big 12 in rushing differential (the difference between the rushing yards gained by the offense and the rushing yards allowed by the defense.
The Sooners are outgaining their opponents by 109.6 rushing yards per game, second in the Big 12 only to Baylor (+144.7 ypg). Oklahoma State is a distant third in that category at +39.5 ypg.
Additionally, the OU defense has shined in the second halves of the past two games, outscoring its opponents by a total of 55-10. During those games, the defense has allowed just 33 net rushing yards.
Against Kansas State, defensive end Charles Tapper said the defense said it could get after the quarterback a little bit more during the second half of play.
“We didn’t have to worry about the run as much because we had a little margin ahead of us,” Tapper said. “So we felt like as a defensive line we could get more pressure and Aaron Colvin would play (Tyler) Lockett a little bit more and shut him down.”
Another key for the Sooners in playing effective run defense according to Tapper has been the play of OU’s linebackers. Despite his status as a true freshman, Dominique Alexander continues to impress after being pressed into duty for an injured Corey Nelson. Alexander, another Tulsa native, is tied for second on the squad with 65 tackles.
“Dom is a great kid,” Tapper explained. “He loves to learn the game and he loves to teach the game. He teaches me as much as I teach him. He just breaks the game. Me, (Eric) Striker and him might just sit down and watch film so we can know the spots we will be in in case we have a missed assignment so that we can make up for each other.”
BIG 12 LEADERS
RUSHING DIFFERENTIAL, YPG
1. Baylor +144.7
2. Oklahoma +109.6
3. Okla. State +39.5
4. Kansas State +24.0
5. Texas +7.8
Differing Opinions on an Open Week Before Bedlam
With a rash of injuries that have sidelined or limited several key members of the Oklahoma roster, head coach Bob Stoops was thankful to have some additional time to let his squad heal up before a Dec. 7 showdown in Stillwater.
“We need one about as much as anybody,” Stoops said of an open date this weekend. “Hopefully we can rest some guys up this week and get them back for the following week. I don’t know the status of really anyone today just yet, so we’ll see as we go through the week.”
On the other hand, Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, whose team has won seven in a row, including a 49-17 victory over No. 3 Baylor last Saturday obviously has a different opinion about the timing of his next contest.
“I’m not a big fan of these open dates,” said Gundy. “Of course it doesn’t really factor in because of television and money but I would have an open date after the third or fourth game of the year just to let everybody kind of catch their breath after the August practices and the September run but after that I wouldn’t have any more open dates. That’s just my opinion. We work with it. It’s the hand we’ve been dealt.”
According to Oklahoma offensive lineman Daryl Williams, the Sooners know they need to step up, no matter the circumstance. The OU offensive line was missing starting left guard Adam Shead for the Kansas State game, while left tackle Tyrus Thompson went down in the contest, necessitating much shuffling on the blocking unit.
“It is that time of the year,” Williams shrugged. The guys behind us know that once they get in, there shouldn’t be any difference. They just need to fill in for the person that got hurt or who is banged up.”
Today’s Best Quotes
“I’ll finish by saying there’s still only one King and that’s Coach Switzer. He’s the only one who knows how to wear that crown.” – Bob Stoops on Barry Switzer
Daryl Williams on his favorite part of Thanksgiving: “Eating.”
Williams on his favorite Thanksgiving entrée: “Everything.”