NORMAN â€” The philosophy of Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Bill Young is not exactly bend don't break.
But it's close.
Realizing the OSU offense is going to score in droves, Young doesn't feel compelled to take chances with man-to-man coverage or all-out blitzes. Instead, he's content to make opposing offenses earn their way down the field and wait for them to make mistakes.
To knock off the Pokes, Oklahoma will have to accomplish the former and avoid the latter.
â€œThey make you work,â€ Sooner coach Bob Stoops said. â€œThey have gotten turnovers and stops in different ways. That's the idea going against them. You've got to be able to hold it together, sustain drives and get your big plays when you can.â€
OU is going to get its yards. But whether the Sooners also get their points depends on if they can bubble screen their way down the field, manufacture a couple of big plays and avoid turning the ball over against the nation's sixth-best defense at causing turnovers.
â€œI wouldn't call them a bend-but-don't break team by any means, but they're not going to let you just run by them and throw bombs,â€ said OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. â€œThey don't give up a lot of big plays. They don't give up a lot of cheap scores. And what I see from afar is a defense that plays with a lot of confidence. Meaning if the other team has some success on offense, I don't think their defense gets rattled because they know their offense is going to do well.â€
The good news for the Sooners is they possess the kind of offense that can give the Cowboys fits.
OU doesn't turn the ball over, the lifeblood of the OSU defense.
Only Iowa, Oregon State, Wisconsin, Navy and TCU have turned the ball over fewer times than the Sooners this season. And while quarterback Landry Jones has had some breakdowns on the road, he's only thrown five picks in OU's last 10 games.
OU also doesn't need big plays to score points.
While they've been much more explosive of late, the Sooners still only have 13 scoring plays from outside the red zone, a low number compared with other Big 12 teams.
That hasn't, however, prevented OU from boasting the No. 16 scoring offense in the country with almost 37 points per game. The Sooners have made a living on bubble screens to Ryan Broyles and swing passes to DeMarco Murray and slants and outs to Kenny Stills.
Those plays should be there against the Cowboys.
If the Sooners can execute those plays, they'll bend OSU's defense. And if they can hold on to the ball, eventually break it.