LAWRENCE, Kan. — Blake Bell felt plenty of pressure in the week leading up to Saturday's 34-19 win over Kansas.
Pressure to bounce back from the lackluster performance against Texas the week before. Pressure to perform well in his home state in front of plenty of folks from his hometown of Wichita. Pressure to prove that the Sooners could throw the ball downfield. Pressure to move the ball effectively on the ground after not being used much in that regard against the Longhorns.
Bell's performance against the Jayhawks was far from perfect — he didn't progress through his reads quick enough at times and missed on a few opportunities to run the ball when plays broke down — but it was a step forward.
“There's still a lot of plays out there to be made,” Bell said. “I think we're going in the right direction.”
There were a few of those plays, but two stood out.
In the third quarter, Bell threw a fourth-down interception on a play where he had both Trey Millard and Aaron Ripkowski open.
In the fourth, Bell couldn't get the ball away in time and was called for an intentional grounding penalty that helped set up a Jayhawks' blocked punt that put Kansas back in the game.
Overall, though, Bell was better Saturday than he had been in the last two weeks — a win over TCU and the loss to Texas.
He showed that in the second quarter with the Sooners down 13-0 and reeling.
Bell completed all three of his passes on the Sooners second drive of the quarter, the second a 25-yarder to Jalen Saunders on a post route that energized OU's offense.