NORMAN — The new Big 12 schedule isn't looking so bad right now for Oklahoma.
Pushing Bedlam back a week, among the other shuffling of the reworked league, created a second bye week in the Sooners' schedule.
And, boy, OU could use it right about now.
Even after a dominant 41-25 win against Texas A&M, the 8-1 Sooners — still sixth in the BCS standings — find themselves unsteady and unhealthy.
How much does this team need a breather? Just after Saturday's game, before interviews with reporters, a loud roar was heard coming from the OU locker room.
What was it? Sooners saw a score they liked? Rousing speech from one of the captains or coaches?
No, Bob Stoops told the team it would get Monday off from practice.
And Friday, too.
More cheers, louder.
It's November. Oklahoma, like every other team in the country, is pretty physically beaten up by now. There's a mental toll, as well.
How will the Sooners respond, in mind and body, now that they know they'll play the final four games without senior captain Ryan Broyles? Broyles has vowed he'll remain vocally active, but his presence on the field is something quarterback Landry Jones acknowledged he would miss quite a bit.
That's natural, considering Broyles was open a lot more plays than he was not during his decorated career. The concept of stepping up was popular among the Sooners in the postgame. Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds have to become givens, week in and week out. Trey Franks and Dejuan Miller have to do more. Kameel Jackson has to play like a sophomore, presuming he's rolled into the regular rotation.
Those receivers will have seven practices, a mini-mini-camp of sorts, until the Nov. 19 game at Baylor.
Beyond Broyles, there's the health of several other Sooners. Linebacker Tom Wort's ankle could use the time to heal. Center Ben Habern can knock off some of the rust, returning from his broken forearm. Time also figures to be beneficial for Tony Jefferson's knee, though that's a curious case.
Jefferson tweaked his leg in the Texas Tech loss, but still managed to play the following week at Kansas State. He was held out against Texas A&M — with the exception of one play, when his replacement, Joe Ibiloye, had to come out for a play.
After the game, coordinator Brent Venables essentially said it was a coaches' decision that Jefferson didn't play. He said the Sooners wanted someone more physical against A&M running game. But wasn't Kansas State an even more physical challenge?
Venables did not mention Jefferson's knee. Jefferson vented on Twitter about only getting in for one play, because of the injury. (Because of the injury, right?)
Running back Brennan Clay was less subtle, saying he felt invisible on the sideline after receiving one carry. Clay's been nursing a pinched nerve in his neck, but he clearly felt healthy enough to get than a carry.
Makes sense that guys could get frustrated, but didn't the Sooners win by 16 against one of the more talented teams on their schedule? Didn't they just see a teammate's career end prematurely?
So, perhaps the bye week off will have a calming and healing effect.
The Sooners generally have been perplexing this season, displaying stretches of pure brilliance and exhibiting spans of sputtering. And you never know when to expect one or the other.
What OU team will emerge from the bye, for the stretch run that leads to Stillwater? It has two weeks to decide.