Oklahoma defense has made plays when it mattered in Big 12 wins
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Monday, November 26, 2012
11/26/12 at 5:19 AM
Related Story: OU Football Notebook: Big-time drive
NORMAN - It is the new reality for the Oklahoma defense, or for any defense in the quarterbacks-gone-wild Big 12 Conference.
"When you realize you still have a chance to win the game," cornerback Aaron Colvin said, "you can't really worry about the score."
Forget the numbers, whether points or yards. They'll only turn your stomach. Just make enough plays to give your offense a chance to outscore the other one.
That's how the Sooners won Bedlam on Saturday. It's how they beat West Virginia and Baylor the two weeks before that. It might be how they approach Saturday's regular-season finale at TCU, with a Big 12 title and BCS bowl bid in the balance.
"It's not gonna be perfect playing these teams. They're too good offensively," Mike Stoops conceded after the 51-48 Bedlam epic. "You're not gonna shut these people out. You've got to contain and make some plays on third down."
That's just what happened four times over OSU's last five possessions, and it gave Landry Jones, Brennan Clay and the OU offense the opportunity to rally.
The Cowboys took over late in the third quarter leading 38-30. They had already amassed 399 yards and were closing in on a record point total for Bedlam. Joseph Randle ripped off 10 quick yards, and it appeared OSU was about to set sail once more.
Then Colvin flew in at quarterback Clint Chelf and dropped him for a 10-yard loss.
"We had to sell out," Stoops said. "We were struggling with four-man pressures."
Demontre Hurst broke up Chelf's deep post on third down, and the Sooners were still in the game.
Stoops dialed up more heat on OSU's next series, the score now knotted at 38-38. Middle linebacker Tom Wort sacked Chelf, then safeties Tony Jefferson and Julian Wilson made plays on second and third downs.
The Cowboys drove 77 yards for the go-ahead touchdown the next time they had it.
"They went tempo on us and scored in a two-minute drive running a simple zone play that obviously we are struggling defending," Stoops said.
When OU's ensuing drive stalled at the OSU 33, it was once more on the defense to keep the game in play.
Defensive tackle Jamarkus McFarland stopped Randle for a loss of one. Chelf threw incomplete off a roll. Stoops sent seven on third-and-11, and Chelf overthrew Josh Stewart deep with safety Javon Harris running stride-for-stride in coverage.
The stand set up the game-tying touchdown drive over the final six minutes, which set up OSU's first crack in overtime.
The Cowboys picked up 12 yards and a first down. Chelf overthrew Stewart from the 13, then OU limited a screen to Stewart to four. Chelf missed tight end Blake Jackson near the goal line on third-and-6, and OSU settled for a field goal.
"We felt like if we could hold them in overtime, we were going to win the game," Stoops said.
He was right. The Sooners took over, ran two plays and prevailed. Clay crossed the goal line, and nobody sprinted onto Owen Field faster than Stoops.
He was so frustrated in postgame the week before at West Virginia that he refused to acknowledge the numbers. The wringer he's been through this month, he didn't much care after Bedlam.
"These offenses can stress your defense," Stoops said, "and certainly we've been stressed in the last few weeks like we haven't been, really, all year."
Stressed as they were, the Sooners were also 3-0 the past three weeks.
What was it the other Stoops had just said before turning the postgame over to his younger brother?
"I'll win 51-48 as opposed to losing 7-6 every day," Bob Stoops said. "That includes next week if need be."
Sept. 1: at UTEP W, 24-7
Sept. 8: vs. Florida A&M W, 69-13
Sept. 22: vs. Kansas State L, 24-19
Oct. 6: at Texas Tech W, 41-20
Oct. 13: vs. Texas W, 63-21
Oct. 20: vs. Kansas W, 52-7
Oct. 27: vs. Notre Dame L, 30-13
Nov. 3: at Iowa State W, 35-20
Nov. 10: vs. Baylor W, 42-34
Nov. 17: at West Virginia W, 50-49
Nov. 24: vs. Oklahoma St. W, 51-48 (OT)
Dec. 1: at Texas Christian 11 a.m.
OU up next
At TCU 11 a.m. Saturday
Radio: KMOD fm97.5, KTBZ am1430
Original Print Headline: Just keep it close
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
OU's Aaron Colvin and Javon Harris celebrate Colvin's interception of OSU quarterback Clint Chelf during Saturday's game in Norman. STEPHEN PINGRY / Tulsa World