Clearly, former OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson tried to minimize the stress on the quarterbacks in those games.
The 14th-ranked Sooners (3-0) don’t appear to have that against the 22nd-ranked Fighting Irish (3-1). Current offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said he won’t treat Bell like a rookie quarterback Saturday.
“He’s been in tough environments, big games, in critical situations. He’s done all that on the road. He’s had to communicate. He’s had to work extremely hard to get the play off,” Heupel said. “When you play in tough environments like that it takes a lot of work and a lot of energy to get that done. Because of his experience that he has had, I expect him to handle it really well.”
If Bell does, the Sooners could leave South Bend, Ind., with a huge non-conference win that shoots them into the national title race and gives them a truckload of confidence with all of their attention turning toward the Big 12 Conference schedule.
A lot of it will depend on whether Bell plays like a veteran quarterback about to play in his ninth career road game, which he technically is dating back to the 2011 season, or like many first-year starters going on the road for the first time.
Teammates believe the former version will be the dominant force on Saturday.
“He’s made a lot of big plays for us on the road and in big games. I don’t think pressure’s one of the things that’s going to effect him,” OU center Gabe Ikard said. “He’s familiar, even just the package last year, he’s been in big moments. I’m sure he’ll play with great confidence and be ready to go.”
Which version arrives at Notre Dame Stadium is largely up to Bell. It’s all on his shoulders.
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