Bedlam football: OU defense shines
Crazy at it seems, the best unit on the field Saturday night in OU’s 47-41 Bedlam victory was the Sooner defense. As unbelievable as it seems, the least effective unit was the unit we thought, going into the game, clearly was the best. The OSU offense.
I thought in general, the OU offense played really well, but the three turnovers were huge. Conversely, the OSU defense was victimized, but those three takeaways can’t be discounted. I think we have to say both the Sooner offense and the Cowboy defense did its job. That was a virtual wash, and while OU’s offensive numbers soared with Landry Jones’ late touchdown passes of 86 and 76 yards, you can’t lay those at the feet of the Cowboy defense. You have to just hand it to Jones and the Sooners for a job well done in crunch time.
But the OU defense completely controlled the Cowboy offense. OSU had 15 possessions; it punted seven times and committed three turnovers. The Cowboys had three offensive touchdowns and two field goals. That’s winning defense against an offense like Dana Holgorsen’s.
OSU ran the ball better than did OU — check the tailback numbers. The Cowboys’ trio gained 118 yards on 22 carries, an average of 5.4 yards per carry. The Sooner ballcarriers carried 42 times for 140 yards, an average of 3.3 yards.
Jones completed 59.7 percent of his passes. OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden completed 65.1 percent of his passes. Both threw three interceptions.
Yet the Sooners controlled most of the game by controlling the ball. OU ran 107 plays. That’s astounding. But OU’s 16-of-27 third-down conversion rate was spectacular not for the 16, but for the 27. The Sooners had 27 third-down plays. Think about that for a minute. OU’s conversion rate of 59.2 percent was very good.
But the biggest stat in the game was OSU’s third-down conversion rate: 33.3 percent. Two of OSU’s five third-down conversions came in those crazy final six minutes, when 34 points were scored. So when this was a regular football game and not some kind of video football, the Cowboys made just three of 12 third-down conversions.
The Sooner defense embodied the term “getting off the field.” They got off the field and turned the ball back to their offense, which methodically drove the ball.
Ironically, OU sealed the deal with those two cross-country touchdown passes after a season in which the Sooners had not produced many big plays. But before that crazy finish, OU played station-to-station to football.
OU had four possessions in which it made at least four first downs. OSU fought back by swiping those three Jones passes, keeping the Cowboys in the game.
But while OU’s defense also swiped three passes, it did NOT allow the methodical first downs — or many big plays — that would have turned this into a wild shoot-out.
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