NORMAN — Landry Jones' offense found a way to score one more point than West Virginia last weekend, allowing Oklahoma to leave the Big 12 outpost with its slim conference title hopes still intact.
That's the good news.
The bad news? The Sooner defense was historically dreadful; Saturday marked the first time since 1993 that consecutive OU opponents gained 250 rushing yards.
The worst news? The OU defense's next challenge is its toughest one yet. Oklahoma State visits Owen Field on Saturday, and despite its reputation as a highflying passing offense, it was the Cowboy run game that gashed the Sooners in last year's 44-10 rout.
Baylor rushed for 252 yards on Nov. 10 in OU's 42-34 home win. Last week, West Virginia gained a staggering 458 of its 778 offensive yards on the ground.
“You can't really pinpoint one or two things,” said senior defensive tackle Casey Walker. “It's an all-around deal. We've gotta play a thousand times better than that, especially to win out and fulfill the rest of our goals for the season.”
The Cowboys' Brandon Weeden-to-Justin Blackmon show wasn't needed in Bedlam last December; Blackmon had 95 yards receiving, and OSU didn't throw a single touchdown pass.
Oklahoma State ran in four of them, two each for Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith, who finished with 151 and 119 rushing yards, respectively.
“We've gotta play so much better defense, especially from last week to last year,” said Walker, referring to the West Virginia win and the 2011 Bedlam debacle.
“The defense has to improve tremendously. Tackling has to be better.”
After the Baylor game, coach Bob Stoops said he expected the Bears to have success on the ground because of his team's commitment to stopping the pass, demonstrated in a frequently used scheme that included seven defensive backs and no linebackers.
Despite the struggles against Baylor, though, OU tried the same stuff — with even worse results — against West Virginia.
Tavon Austin, usually a receiver, became a running back and embarrassed the Sooner defense with his 344 yards and two touchdowns.
The odd defensive package isn't likely to make a third appearance against Oklahoma State.
“It's about making adjustments,” said defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. “West Virginia made a great adjustment to get their best player in space. I feel bad for our players that we didn't have a better answer than we did the other night.
“There's a lot of similarities to what we saw a week ago in what we're gonna see this week. They're almost identical in their approach. Their game plans are structured very similar. There's a lot of carry-over, but we're going to have to do some things a little different.”