Oklahoma Sooners: NCF

Oklahoma playing quality defense again

October, 11, 2013
10/11/13
12:04
PM ET

AP Photo/Darron CummingsFrank Shannon is part of a defensive unit that is one of the best in the nation this season.

Oklahoma is back to playing the kind of defense that can win a championship. The Sooners are allowing 13 points per game, sixth fewest in the FBS and on pace with the Sooners’ 2001 team for the fewest points per game during the Bob Stoops tenure.

They rank ninth in the nation in total defense (282 yards per game) and are one of seven FBS teams that have not allowed more than 21 points in a game this season.

Last season, Oklahoma allowed nearly 26 points per game, its most under Stoops. The Sooners finished the season ranked 64th in total defense and 90th in rush yards per game.

They allowed at least 30 points in four of their last five games. Oklahoma’s defense hit rock bottom when it allowed a Cotton Bowl record 516 total yards to Johnny Manziel and lost to the Aggies by 28 points.

Oklahoma had -32.9 expected points added on defense last season.

That means that the Sooners defense contributed -33 points to its scoring margin for the season.

If their defense played average, they would have won against both Texas A&M and Kansas State. This season, the defense has added at least six expected points in every game by controlling field position, forcing turnovers and stopping its opponents.

How has Oklahoma improved its defense?

Getting off the field on third down
Oklahoma has forced a three-and-out on 52 percent of its opponents’ drives this season, tied for third best in the FBS and 19 percentage points higher than how it fared last season.

The Sooners rank 10th in the FBS in third-down conversion defense (27 percent) this season. That is a 15-point improvement from last season, when they ranked 74th in the FBS and had the team’s worst third-down conversion percentage in the last 10 seasons.

Opponents have posted a 10.8 Total QBR on third down against Oklahoma this season, tied with Stanford for eighth best in the nation and 30.1 points better than last season when they ranked 41st.

Controlling the line of scrimmage
Oklahoma allowed 1,658 rush yards before contact last season, third most for an AQ defense behind Indiana and Colorado.

The Sooners allowed 22 percent of opponents’ runs to gain at least five yards before first contact. This season, they are allowing 77 fewer yards before contact per game, and they have allowed the fewest runs (19) in the Big 12 that gain five yards or more without contact.

After struggling last season, the Sooners are committed to stopping the run this season. They are averaging 6.9 defenders in the box on designed runs this season, after average an AQ-low 6.1 last season.

Defending the deep ball
Oklahoma is allowing opponents to complete 26 percent of their passes thrown 15 yards or longer this season, second lowest by a Big 12 defense and ninth lowest by an AQ school.

None of the Sooners’ five opponents have completed more than half of such passes in a game.

In their four losses last season, opponents completed 41 percent of their passes thrown 15 yards or longer against the Sooners, which is 5 percentage points higher than the AQ average.

Who have been the biggest keys?
Three players in particular have come up big for this year’s defense.

Linebacker Frank Shannon leads the team with 34 tackles, including six that were within two yards of the line of scrimmage that saved a first down.

Defensive linemen Charles Tapper ranks fourth in the Big 12 in total pressures (hurries and knockdowns).

Eric Striker leads the Sooners and ranks third in the Big 12 with 11 total pressures.

Looking Ahead
Oklahoma plays its rival Texas on Saturday at the Cotton Bowl.

The Longhorns have scored more than 30 points in each of their last two games, both Big 12 wins. They are 11-1 since the start of last year when they score at least 25 points and 1-5 when they do not.

ESPN.com's Preseason All-America team

August, 16, 2013
8/16/13
12:45
PM ET


The All-American wealth has spread across the land. The Pac-12 leads the conferences with seven, one more than the SEC. Dual-threat QB Marcus Mariota and RB Lache Seastrunk both originally signed with Oregon. Now that Seastrunk plays for Baylor, he and Mariota no longer have to share a backfield. Seastrunk and G Cyril Richardson make the Bears the only team with two on offense. Richardson is surely the first All-American named Cyril, but Lache is not the first body of water to make it. He joins 1939 Heisman winner Nile Kinnick.

Alabama has won three of the past four BCS titles with defense and placed LB C.J. Mosley and S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix on this team. Alabama and Oregon lead with three players apiece on the list. That's one more than the Big Ten and two more than the ACC and Conference USA. -- Ivan Maisel

View ESPN.com's 2013 Preseason All-America team here.

Links: Farewell to the BCS

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
2:00
PM ET


This is the last year of the BCS, and our writers look at its impact on college football:

From Ivan Maisel: The BCS has moved NCAA football forward in a way no system before it could and given it a national stage, but along with exposure comes greater pressure and expectations, which in the end the series couldn't overcome.

From Mark Schlabach: As we prepare for the final season of the BCS, let's take a look back at its highs and lows.

From Brian Bennett: Five of the last seven national champions have had at least one loss, and with a playoff looming, going undefeated will be harder than ever.
Tags:

Big 12, SEC, Pac-12, NCF, ACC

10 Cotton Bowl stats you need to know

January, 3, 2013
1/03/13
1:25
PM ET

AP PhotoLandry Jones and Johnny Manziel have their teams poised for a Cotton Bowl win.
The Cotton Bowl kicks off at 8 ET on Friday night as the No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies face the No. 11 Oklahoma Sooners. These former Big 12 rivals are meeting for the 17th straight season. Oklahoma has owned the series of late, winning 11 of the last 13 matchups since 1999.

Here are nine more stats you need to know to get ready for this game:

Going Streaking
The Sooners are looking for their first four-game bowl win streak since 1978-81, which would tie the school record for consecutive bowl wins. The Aggies are looking to win consecutive bowl games for the first time since a three-game streak spanning 1978-85.

Been Here, Done That
Texas A&M is no stranger to the Cotton Bowl. The Aggies are making their 13th appearance in this bowl, posting a 4-8 record in the previous 12. A&M has lost its last six trips to the Cotton Bowl. Its last win came in the 1987 season over Notre Dame.

What Heisman Curse?
Johnny Manziel plays his first game since winning the Heisman Trophy. The last three Heisman winners to play in a bowl game each won the game (Mark Ingram in 2009, Cam Newton in 2010 and Robert Griffin III in 2011).

Scrambling Man
Manziel has gained 784 of his 1,181 rush yards on scrambles. That's 18 more yards scrambling than Braxton Miller, Marcus Mariota and Collin Klein have combined this season.

Big-Play Johnny Football
Manziel has 70 plays that gained at least 20 yards this season, 10 more than any other FBS player. He was tied for the eighth-most passes (52) and the third-most rushes (18) of 20-plus yards.

Manziel Record Watch
Manziel is one rushing touchdown away from becoming only the fourth player with 20 passing and 20 rushing touchdowns in a season in FBS history. Tim Tebow, Cam Newton, and Colin Kaepernick are the others.

Jones Record Watch
Landry Jones can become the second player in college football history to start and win four bowl games as a quarterback. He would join West Virginia’s Pat White, who accomplished the feat from 2005-08.

Jones Cool Under Pressure
Jones has excelled when facing the blitz this season, throwing eight touchdowns and only one interception when facing five or more pass rushers. Jones has been at his best in the last three games, completing 77.1 percent against the blitz with four touchdowns and no picks.

Sooner History
Oklahoma has 27 major bowl wins, tied with Georgia and Texas for the third-most all-time behind USC (31) and Alabama (33). However, just one of those wins has come in the Cotton Bowl – a 10-3 victory over Arkansas in the 2001 season.

Oklahoma scores 60, again, against Texas

October, 13, 2012
10/13/12
4:39
PM ET
For only the third time in the history of the Red River Rivalry, the Oklahoma Sooners put up at least 60 points on the Texas Longhorns.

And all three times have come since Bob Stoops took over at Oklahoma in 1999.

Stoops' first win in this series came in 2000, 63-14. In 2003, OU won 65-13, and on Saturday the Sooners won 63-15.

Combined with last year's 38-point loss (55-17), this marks the first time Texas has lost to Oklahoma by at least 38 points in back-to-back seasons.

It's the third straight year Oklahoma has beaten Texas, all three with Landry Jones as the Sooners' starting quarterback. Jones is just the third starting QB in school history to beat Texas three times joining Steve Davis (1973-75) and Jimmy Davis (1954-56).

Jones also picked up his 33rd win, passing Steve Davis for most wins in school history by a starting QB.

Oklahoma's other QB, Blake Bell, had four rushing touchdowns -- the second time in his career he's rushed for four scores in a game. Bell is the first player to rush for four touchdowns against Texas since Oklahoma's Quentin Griffin set the school record with six in 2000.

With Oklahoma up 13-2, Damien Williams broke off a 95-yard touchdown run, the third longest in school history and the longest -- by either school -- in the history of the rivalry.

Oklahoma outscored Texas 23-0 in the second quarter. In the last two meetings, OU has outscored Texas 51-7 in the second quarter, and 70-12 in the first half.

Texas has now lost nine straight games against AP top-25 teams. The 677 yards the Longhorns allowed are the third most they have yielded in a game since 1950.

The Longhorns were outgained by 388 yards (677-289), their biggest disparity in a game since 1950.

Wildcats pressure Landry Jones into loss

September, 25, 2012
9/25/12
3:28
PM ET

U.S. Presswire/Matthew EmmonsThe Kansas State defense simply overwhelmed Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones.

The key to Kansas State’s success is a rarely talked about side of the ball for the Wildcats -- their defense.

Timely turnovers, pressure on the quarterback, and offensive efficiency were the keys to an upset win over No. 6 Oklahoma last Saturday.

The win was just the second time in 33 tries that Kansas State beat Oklahoma when the Sooners were ranked in the top 10 of the AP poll.

Kansas State had Landry Jones rattled all night, forcing him to throw 10 passes when under duress (six in the second half).

Jones' one interception in the game was under duress on an off-balance, overthrown pass.

Additionally, the Wildcats sacked Jones twice, with both sacks resulting in fumbles. Jones turned the ball over twice, and both led to Kansas State touchdowns.

Kansas State did this while bringing four or fewer rushers on 43 of Jones’ 45 dropbacks.

Jones was off-target all night. Twelve of his 15 incomplete passes were overthrown, underthrown or wide. He has struggled with off-target passes all season. Twenty-five of his 39 incompletions have not reached his receivers.

Oklahoma was held below 20 points at home for only the third time since Bob Stoops became coach in 1999. It was also the first home loss for Sooners in 15 games against ranked opponents under Stoops.

On the other side of the ball, Kansas State relied on an efficient running game and short throws to move the ball.

Collin Klein attempted 13 of his 21 passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, completing 10 of those for 91 yards.

Klein was at his best on third down, completing 7 of 11 passes for six first downs. On third and long (six-or-more yards to go), he completed 6 of 7 passes for five first downs, including two in the fourth quarter as the Wildcats attempted to preserve their lead.

After its win over the Sooners, Kansas State moved up to No. 7 in the AP Poll. That is the highest ranking the Wildcats have attained since September 2003.

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