NORMAN, Okla.---The Big 12 Champion resides in Oklahoma. Bedlam will decide if the championship trophy remains in Norman or relocates to Stillwater.
Oklahoma set up a Big 12 Championship game with the Sooners 26-6 win over Iowa State at Owen Field last weekend. OU will travel to Boone Pickens Stadium to face Oklahoma State this weekend with the winner securing the Big 12 title and a BCS berth.
A second look at the Sooners victory reveals more success with the Belldozer, some new twists to the Belldozer package and an angry OU defense which was dominant yet again this season.
Key plays and sequences
--The early fumble by ISU was a great play by defensive end Frank Alexander and safety Aaron Colvin. Alexander beat his one-on-one block, then stripped the ball and Colvin, who was eight yards deep at the snap, used incredible acceleration to beat everyone to the football.
---The Cyclones lone touchdown came after a poor snap by James Winchester and a lucky bounce into the hands of ISU receiver Albert Gary. If the pass from ISU quarterback Jared Barnett had not hit Alexander in the helmet, there’s a decent chance Colvin or Sam Proctor prevent the touchdown.
---On quarterback Blake Bell’s redzone interception at the end of the first quarter, ISU linebacker Jake Knott didn’t buy the play action fake at all; he immediately read Bell’s eyes then stepped in front of receiver Kenny Stills for the interception. If OU is going to run those plays to keep defenses honest, Bell needs to sell the run a lot more than he did on Saturday.
---The "Belldozer” scored two touchdowns against Iowa State but was stopped twice inside the five-yard line in the fourth quarter. On the first play it appeared Bell could have gotten into the end zone if he had just followed his blocking and ran as physical as he has on previous carries.
On the second play, Bell pitched it to fullback Trey Millard who was stopped. The Belldozer is most successful when the Sooners run the ball right at the defense and get Bell running downhill with his 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame. On that play, Bell and Millard, two physical runners, are both running laterally, towards the sideline instead of the goal line. Why?
--OU pulled out a new wrinkle to the Belldozer with some success. Bell kept the football for a fourth down conversion in the first half and pitched it to Millard in the fourth quarter but the Sooners fullback was stopped short of the goal line. While the option is a good play to make defenses prepare and account for, the Belldozer will always be at its best with Bell running right at defenders.
--Receiver Trey Franks had two reverses for 40-plus yards showing the quickness and explosiveness that made him a name to watch heading into the season.
---Dominant, dominant performance by the defense. It was obvious the Sooners defense was tired of hearing how bad they are. Two terrible performances against Texas Tech and Baylor have overshadowed eight great performances. But that’s part of playing at Oklahoma... expectations are high, success is expected and failure is spotlighted.
--The offense seems to really miss Ryan Broyles, it’s just lacking the explosiveness and big plays that we have become accustomed to. We knew it would be difficult to replace the most productive receiver in FBS history and it has been. OU’s 5 of 18 on third down shows just how much the Sooners miss No. 85.
--Running back Roy Finch is dynamic with the ball in his hands and he’s a tougher runner than his size would indicate. Dominique Whaley’s injury has allowed the sophomore to show why he was a preseason All-Big 12 pick.
--The Belldozer hasn’t been consistently stopped by anyone. The Sooners want to show versatility with the formation but until someone stops the play where the guard pulls with two fullbacks leading the way, why run anything else? Just run that play to the right and to the left, make people prove they can stop it on a consistent basis.
--Safety Tony Jefferson looks like he is finally healthy. Jefferson didn’t talk much about his knee injury but it was clear he wasn’t 100 percent and he deserves a lot of credit for playing through it without mentioning it at all. Against the Cyclones he looked like himself with seven tackles including two tackles for loss and one sack.
--Safety Sam Proctor played well with his increased playing time. OU knows what it is going to get with Proctor, he will be where he needs to be. While he might not be the playmaker that Javon Harris is, he doesn’t get caught out of position as much either. Harris still saw a good deal of action in passing situations.
--Running back Brandon Williams looked good in his time on the field. The freshman keeps proving he needs to get more touches each week. He had 11 carries for 80 yards, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. Offensive packages with him and Finch on the field together will really make it hard on defensive coordinators.
--A poor second half for the offense with only three points. And four turnovers in Bedlam will get you beat. The Sooners clearly didn’t show everything they have and were looking to get the win without having to show Oklahoma State much at all.
--The wind undoubtedly had an impact on the game and OU’s offensive success but the turnovers can’t be overlooked and the lack of big plays through the air is a concern as well (Jones’ longest completion was 24 yards).
For the second straight game, linebacker Corey Nelson was all over the place. The sophomore had nine tackles and one fumble recovery in the victory. He could be a key asset as Brent Venables comes up with a defensive plan to slow down OSU.
The Sooners won’t beat Oklahoma State playing like they did on Saturday. But they won’t approach Bedlam like they did last weekend’s game against the Cyclones either. The Sooners offense was scaled down and OU definitely didn’t bring their entire arsenal to the table. OSU should expect nothing less than that during Bedlam.