The Norman Transcript

December 3, 2013

Sooners focused on winning turnover battle in Stillwater

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Points ultimately decide every game’s outcome. It’s the reason they occupy the scoreboard’s top spot.

However, the one stat that isn’t listed there — turnovers — will likely be the determining factor Saturday when No. 17 Oklahoma faces No. 6 Oklahoma State.

“It’s pretty much statistically proven that the team with the most turnovers typically, most likely is going to (lose) the game,” OU defensive end Geneo Grissom said. “Turnovers are going to be huge for us. I feel like we’re due for some more turnovers.”

In some ways, they are. The Sooners have come up with just 14 this season with four coming in the last two games. With the defensive improvement they’ve made this season — yards allowed and points allowed per game have both dropped — the inability to get turnovers is surprising.

There isn’t a team in college football that feasts off them more than Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have come up with 29 in 11 games and are second in the country in turnovers. This one stat perfectly illustrates the importance they’ve had in the season. The Cowboys have lost the turnover stat in one game: a 31-20 loss at lowly West Virginia. All season they’ve been like spinach to Popeye.

OU coach Bob Stoops didn’t waste any time beating home that to his team.

“Third- and fourth-down conversions and turnovers all lead to possession time and yardage on the field, you know, for field position and all that,” he said. “So it directly correlates to points and time of possession. So you need to win those battles.”

The Sooners have actually won two games — TCU and Kansas — while losing the turnover battle. But those wins were against teams that weren’t very good. The Horned Frogs and the Jayhawks turned in their pads this week for a reason.

The team that has to play defense the least is going to be in a really good position Saturday — next to the heaters on the sidelines on what is forecasted to be a brutally cold day.

It’s not like OU started emphasizing the importance of turnovers Monday. That priority has always been around.

A game like Bedlam, where all eyes are on every tiny detail, brings it to the forefront.

“It’s huge,” OU cornerback Aaron Colvin said. “Coach Stoops is preaching it already that we have to win the turnover battle. They do so good at getting takeaways and not necessarily giving the ball away as well. Their ratio for turnovers is great and we know that we have to be great as well.”

Perhaps the stars will align some way and turnovers won’t be a major factor in the game, but it’s doubtful.

The game is big on emotion and momentum. Turnovers seems to shift both whenever they occur.

The Cowboys have proven throughout the season they can consistently come up with them. The Sooners believe they’re do in that department.

“That’s one of our main goals as a defense and for us to do that, it’ll help us win the game,” linebacker Dominique Alexander said.

John Shinn

Follow me @john_shinn

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