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OU football: Texas Tech unmasked?

By Jake Trotter Modified: November 22, 2008 at 8:55 pm •  Published: November 22, 2008
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NORMAN — In the spring of 1999, Sooner offensive coordinator Mike Leach got the best of Oklahoma co-defensive coordinators Mike Stoops and Brent Venables.

"Our first scrimmage, he threw for 800 yards on us,” Venables said. "I remember how stressed Mike Stoops and I were trying to defend it. How exhausted we were, our hair messed up. A deep state of depression in the locker room afterward.

"It was bad. All bad.”

But ever since Leach left to become Texas Tech’s head coach in 2000, Venables has been returning the favor.

No defense has unmasked Leach’s high-powered Red Raider offense the way OU’s has.

In the Leach era, Tech is scoring 37 points a game.

But against OU, Leach’s Red Raiders have averaged just 20 points. And in Norman, Tech has scored more than 15 only once.

"From a defensive standpoint, you can’t let them get into a rhythm,” Venables said. "You’ve got to keep the ball in front of you, tackle well, come up with some big-time third-down stops.

"That’s been the key.”

But tonight’s showdown between the second-ranked Red Raiders and fifth-ranked Sooners could be a different story.


White it could be different

Since Mike Leach left for Lubbock in 2000, the Sooners have dominated his offense.

Especially in Norman.

But this year, Leach will bring a veteran group that’s been tested in big games.

Leach also has a solid running game and one of the league’s most talented and athletic offensive lines.

Defensively, OU has struggled in big games recently. In the Fiesta Bowl last year, the Sooners gave up 48. Against Texas this year, OU gave up 45.

"I think the past has had a lot to do with the OU defense,” said former Tech quarterback B.J. Symons, who in 2003 was picked off five times in a 56-25 loss. "I see it being different this year because I don’t think OU’s defense is as good as the defenses of the past.”


Why it could be the same

The Sooners have allowed 31 points a game against Big 12 competition.

But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

OU is among the Big 12 leaders in turnovers (24) and sacks (34).

In the last four games, OU has gained 15 turnovers, which have led to four blowout victories.

"I think we will have a lot of turnovers," cornerback Dominique Franks said. "We have another chance to show America what we can do on a great stage.”

Also, this game is in Norman, not Lubbock.

The Sooners are 59-2 at home under Bob Stoops, including 23 straight, the nation’s longest home-winning streak.

Tech has been impressive, but their two best wins (Texas, Oklahoma State) have come at home.

By Jake Trotter

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