CNHI News Services
The Big 12 Conference’s defensive reputation is infamous. Some would say its even laughable when most of the league is averaging over 40 points a game.
Oklahoma, however, is breaking the mold. Saturday’s 63-21 victory over Texas was the second game the Sooners’ defense dominated a high-scoring opponent.
The Longhorns entered the Cotton Bowl in Dallas averaging 46.8 points and 477.4 total yards of offense a game. When OU took its starters off the field midway through the fourth quarter, the Longhorns had 159 yards and zero offensive points.
“The defense was incredible, and I thought physical, tough on the run, covered well, got pressure and all the things you wanted to do,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “It was a complete game.”
The performance came seven days after holding Texas Tech, which is averaging 537.3 yards per game, to 274 yards and a touchdown and two field goals.
Over those two games, OU’s starters have given up 13 points, forced six turnovers and scored eight points with an interception return for a touchdown and a safety. Perhaps the most impressive thing the Sooners have done is force 11 three-and-outs in those 25 possessions against Texas Tech’s and Texas’ starting quarterbacks.
“Your confidence skyrockets when you’re getting three-and-out after three-and-out after three-and-out, ” OU cornerback Aaron Colvin said. “It’s telling you that you’re doing something right when their offense is struggling against your defense. All you want to do is keep your foot on the pedal and keep it moving forward and still not give them anything.”
The Sooners aren’t giving up much. They moved up to 14th in the country in total defense after the drubbing of the Longhorns. This is from a defense that finished outside of the top 50 in total defense the previous two seasons.
Nonetheless, when something happens in back-to-back games, a trend has developed.
“It’s awesome,” middle linebacker Tom Wort said. “I’m excited about the way we’re playing, and I want to keep it up. The confidence and swagger we had going into today, we need that every game. If we have that confidence coupled with the way we prepared the last two weeks, I don’t think we’ll be giving up too many points.”
That remains to be seen. The Sooners, which moved up three spots to No. 10 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 and debuted at No. 9 in the season’s first BCS standings on Sunday, still have some high-powered offenses to play.
They’ll get a break when they face struggling Kansas (1-5, 0-3 Big 12) at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Owen Field. However, OU still has games with No. 5 Notre Dame (Oct. 27), No. 13 West Virginia (Nov. 17) and Oklahoma State (Nov. 24). The Irish are deep in the national championship race. Statistically, the Mountaineers and the Cowboys have some of the best offenses in the country.
Three weeks ago, all of them seemed like games destined to be offensive shoot-outs. The last two games have changed the complexion of those games.
“There’s a bad reputation in the Big 12 about defense,” OU safety Tony Jefferson said. “I think our defense is proving everyone wrong.”