For OU, Millard’s injury wasn’t the only one it had to deal with Saturday. Sophomore middle linebacker Frank Shannon limped off the field early in the first quarter and did not return.
The Sooners played virtually the entire game with true freshmen Dominique Alexander and Jordan Evans at the two inside linebacker spots.
Holding the Red Raiders to 30 points with two true freshman linebackers playing felt like a victory in itself.
“It doesn’t get much tougher from a defensive perspective when you’re playing with three freshmen right in the middle of your line. There aren’t many people in America doing that,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said with a nod to redshirt freshman nose guard Jordan Wade. “To beat a team of that caliber says a lot about those kids, and it says a lot about our team and our depth. I am really, really pleased. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but we made the plays when we needed to.”
Leading at halftime: The victory gave OU 40 straight wins when leading at halftime. The streak dates all the way back to the 2009 season. The last team to rally from a halftime deficit to beat the Sooners was Miami (Fla.) on Oct. 3, 2009.
Better on third down: For the second straight game, OU converted 50 percent of its third-down opportunities. The Sooners were 7 of 14 Saturday. They went 7 for 14 the previous week against Kansas.
“Blake (Bell) did a great job on third downs. He didn’t have a lot of opportunities on first and second down, especially in the second half, but he made the most of everything on third down, made some critical conversions,” offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said.
It was third down conversions that kick-started the offense and put the game away. Bell hit Jalen Saunders on three straight third downs during OU’s first touchdown drive.