The Norman Transcript

December 2, 2011

An evenly miserable playing field


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops didn’t take much time to contemplate his answer when he was asked whether he’d ever been part of a game where the weather played as a big a factor as the Sooners’ game against Iowa State last Saturday.

“The only thing it I could think of was my junior year at Iowa and playing Michigan State at the end of the season. There was snow all over the field and it was cold,” he said. “Only reason I bring it up, is because it’s the only one I can think of like it. Just because of the wind, it made it so hard to operate Saturday.”

Well, it looks like that may be the case again. The forecast for Saturday’s Bedlam game at Pickens Stadium in Stillwater calls for gusty north winds, temperatures in the 30s by the 7 p.m. kickoff and a pretty good chance of rain.

The weather is going to be a factor when the 13th-ranked Sooners (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) and third-ranked Cowboys (10-1, 7-1) settle where the Big 12 championship is going to reside.

“It is what it is. Nobody is going to win because of the weather. We still have to go play the game,” Sooner defensive end R.J. Washington said. “It was freezing last Saturday. I guess we got used to it last Saturday, now we’re going into it again.”

Might as well take a positive attitude when it comes to weather. There isn’t a state that seriously factors into the college football landscape where the weather can wreak as much havoc on a season as Oklahoma.

It’s not frigid temperatures that make the state and the rivalry special. Ask any fan of a Big Ten school, and odds are they have a nice pair of winter gloves and a stocking cap in their favorite team’s colors, and odds are they already are on their third or fourth versions. But those fans weren’t sitting in stadiums with temperatures in the triple digits in September.

You must be able to adapt to what Mother Nature throws out there.

The Sooners did last week against Iowa State, rushing for a season-high 253 yards.

“The focus was to get the running game going and start that,” OU center Ben Habern said. “Now, knowing the weather’s going to be like that at Oklahoma State, that’s going to be our main focus. We have to start our running game and we have to be able to use that for Landry to use play-action and for the receivers to get open in the pass game when we can throw the ball.”

OU has proven throughout the years it can adapt late in the year when weather forces the issue. It won four of its Big 12 titles at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. The victories in 2000, 2006 and 2008 came on bitterly cold nights.

Can Oklahoma State adapt in the same manner? The answer will come Saturday night. But there’s no doubt that nothing affects a passing attack like high winds, wet balls and cold fingers.

The Cowboys and Sooners have offenses that have thrived throwing the ball. One of the reasons is they haven’t had to factor the weather into the equation much.

That’s going to change Saturday. It’s Oklahoma. The only guarantee is the weather is always going to play a factor. Bedlam doesn’t get an exception.

John Shinn 366-3536 jshinn@normantranscript.com