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November 21, 2013

Forecast does no favors for OU offense

NORMAN — Playing at Oklahoma means playing in some harsh weather elements. Blazing heat and harsh winds are common. Brutal cold, however, typically isn’t something the Sooners have to brave very often.

That will change at 11 a.m. Saturday when No. 22 OU (8-2, 5-2 Big 12) faces Kansas State (6-4, 4-3) at Snyder Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kan.

The temperature at kickoff is expected to be well below freezing. Conditions like that only come along once every couple of years. OU hasn’t played a game with the temperature below freezing since the 2008 Big 12 championship game against Missouri. Those relics of the days when the league consisted of 12 teams were something OU coach Bob Stoops referenced when asked about the elements this week.

But the fact is the cold air and wind is going to affect an offense that’s struggled to throw the ball this season. Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel doesn’t believe the climate should play a role Saturday.

“We’re more than capable of going up there — I don’t care what the weather is, cold, windy, snow, whatever — executing, being physical in the run game, being efficient with the play-action pass, hitting big shots,” he said. “That’s what we need to do.”

Ideally, the Sooners would have done that all season. But games where OU has put that all together have been rare. The Sooners enter Saturday’s game averaging 187.6 passing yards a game and have completed just 57.2 percent of their attempts.

Adding to the issue is that Trevor Knight — a native of balmy San Antonio — will get the start today.

Relying on the running game, which is Knight’s overwhelming strength, seems to be essential. The 405-yard rushing performance the Sooners unleashed in last Saturday’s victory over Iowa State seems to bode well.

But this is a game where the team that’s able to hit a couple deep shots is going to have a major advantage.

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