NORMAN — Blake Bell jogged onto Owen Field a few minutes after 11 a.m. with quite a strange resumé.
More bowl MVP trophies than college starts; 1-0.
More touchdown runs (24) than passes thrown (23) during a four-year career.
More popular when he was Landry Jones' backup than when he was Trevor Knight's competitor.
Time to rewrite the resume'. With a glorious day against Tulsa, Bell ended all discussion about who will quarterback the Sooners at Notre Dame in a fortnight.
“Well that's pretty obvious, yeah,” Bob Stoops said. “So much for your controversy right now … you can't deny what he just went out there and did.”
Here's what Bell did. A passing game that had been anemic through two games suddenly blossomed.
Bell completed 27 of 37 passes for 413 yards, breaking Sam Bradford's record (363) for a starting debut, and four touchdown and no bad decisions. Not every Bell pass was pristine, but most were on target.
Knight completed 43.4 percent of his passes in two games. The Sooners need at least 60 percent for efficient offense. Bell delivered 73 percent, while hitting not just on the short screens and slants that were missing the first two weeks, but a few big throws that stretch the defense, including strikes of 35 and 44 yards to Sterling Shepard, plus a gorgeous 25-yard TD pass to Jalen Saunders off a run fake.
And Bell made good decisions. Much better decisions than Knight made in his two games, and frankly, much better than the decision to play Knight in the first place.
Bell didn't dance around the pocket and didn't run much shotgun option; I counted 11 option plays, of which Bell kept the ball only twice.
Truth is, this offense looks more like Landry's than Knight's. But nothing wrong with that.
Bell seemed comfortable on shifting to his second and third pass options, and scrambled enough to fend off all comparisons to Landry.
In fact, in the spirit of teammates who in August compared Knight to Johnny Manziel, let's throw a Bell comparison out there. Ben Roethlisberger. A big ol' quarterback, clunky at times but hard to get down before he's delivered a lethal throw.
Maybe Bell is no Big Ben. But he's a Bell Tower. And you could tell from their tone that OU coaches believe they have found their man.
Stoops: “Blake, obviously, has been here a long time. He has been in a lot of big moments. He played really well today with poise and consistency. He threw the ball great and was on the money.”
Offensive coordinator Josh Heupel: “Took care of the ball, really decisive. Had good command. Did all the things you need your quarterback to do.”
So a guy who a few weeks ago was despondent over losing the starting job to a younger player, now is king of Soonerville.
“It was awesome,” Bell said. “I had a great time, first of all, just getting out there playing ball. Nothing better.”
Heupel admitted Bell was down the August day coaches handed the job to Knight. But only for a day.
“He had a tough day in the meeting room, on the practice field the following day,” Heupel said. “But he came back and probably competed even tougher.”
Gabe Ikard, Bell's center and close friend, said Bell was “torn up” after the original decision. Who wouldn't be? The heir apparent passed over for a player two years his junior.
“He could have handled it a lot of ways,” Ikard said. “Just like any position, you want to be the guy starting. He had worked very hard, competed throughout the entire year. So of course he's going to be down. But he handled himself like a veteran, like the leader he is for this football team.”
And now Bell is the quarterback for an unbeaten team headed to play Notre Dame on Sept. 28. Heady stuff for a Catholic kid from Kansas.
“Awesome,” Bell said again. “Geez, I can't wait.”
And now that the Sooner passing game has returned, neither can OU fans.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.