The Norman Transcript

October 22, 2012

After obliterating Kansas, Sooners prepare for the Irish

By John Shinn
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — There were no giant leaps in Oklahoma’s 52-7 victory over Kansas on Saturday night. The playbook was thin. Most of the starters were on the sidelines by the start of the fourth quarter.

The Sooners’ sixth game of the season was, instead, a stepping stone.

“We just played ball,” defensive end Chuka Ndulue said. “If you keep your eyes in the right place and just do what the coaches tell you to do, the outcome would look just like that if we keep doing that.”

It’s what the eighth-ranked Sooners (5-1, 3-1 Big 12) have done the last three weeks. They’ve been disciplined (three turnovers, while forcing nine), opportunistic (one defensive and two special teams touchdowns) and, above all else, dynamic (10 passing touchdowns and seven rushing touchdowns).

“We’ve got a lot of weapons and we’re starting to click,” OU quarterback Landry Jones said. “We’re becoming the kind of offense we want to be.”

OU’s progression rolls into what has become college football’s biggest non-conference game of the regular season.

The Sooners host No. 5 Notre Dame (6-0) at 7 Saturday night at Owen Field. It’s a game that will impact the national title race and will bring all the pageantry college football can provide with it.

ESPN announced Saturday night that “College GameDay” will broadcast live from Norman. Two of college football’s most storied programs (a combined 15 national championships recognized by the Associated Press and 12 Heisman Trophy winners) will get to rehash the heritage.

OU, however, will continue to build.

Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel likened the Sooners’ progression to the rise of the 2000 team he quarterbacked to a national championship.

“That team in 2000 struggled early and was fortunate enough to find ways to win ball games. Got better as the year went along. Got hot. Was highly competitive throughout the year in the way they approached practice every day and how they performed on Saturdays,” he said. “This team, we are getting better every week. We’ve made strides. I think offensively up front our blocking schemes are getting better, cleaner. We are finding our identifications and our double teams on the edge. You can see that Landry is a lot more comfortable and in better rhythm throwing the football here the last three, four weeks. Our guys are where they’re supposed to be. If those things happen, you look better.”

That was obvious against the Jayhawks. Jones threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns. He has had his highest passer rating (190.51) of the season.

Defensively, OU starters didn’t give up a point for the second straight game and haven’t allowed a touchdown drive since the opening series of the Texas Tech game.

“I thought it was another really solid performance across the board defensively. Thought our guys’ position on the football was relatively good most of the night. Thought our pressure was good, coverage was good,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “Overall, it was a pretty businesslike four quarters for us. They didn’t do a whole lot, and you know, we just played. It kind of got a little boring. We just played our base defense most of the night. We just played ball.”

That seems to be working for the Sooners. They haven’t reinvented the wheel since that Sept. 22 loss to Kansas State that threw the season for a loop. They’ve just played a little better in the three games since and looked dominant in the process.

Heupel comparing the Sooners’ ascension to what OU did in 2000 is appropriate. Much like that season, they will cap October with a monumental home game against an undefeated, highly ranked and traditional power. It was Nebraska in 2000. In six days, it will be the Fighting Irish.

John ShinnFollow me @john_shinnjshinn@normantranscript.com

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.