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Big 12 Notebook: Stoops likes the fight in his young team

The SportsXchange

Oklahoma certainly was not looking ahead on its schedule. Not with Texas Tech visiting Owen Field in Norman.

The Red Raiders represented enough of a challenge, still unbeaten and playing with incredible confidence on both sides of the football under first-year coach Kliff Kingsbury.

Yet the blueprint Oklahoma devised to beat Tech 38-30 is one the Sooners will want to replicate in their next game on Nov. 7 against Baylor. By controlling the football, Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) limited Texas Tech's opportunities. In addition, the Sooner defense kept Tech (7-1, 4-1) from capitalizing on chances, preventing scores on five trips by the Red Raiders inside the 50 in the first half.

"I love our team. I love the attitude, the way they work, they way they're willing to be coached," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "Are we in great shape? No. Am I excited about our team and our opportunity and willingness to fight? I am."

The Sooners have been decimated with injuries on the defensive side, which have forced freshmen to step up into key positions. In addition, one of their most inspirational leaders, and a versatile player on both offense and special teams, fullback Trey Millard, was lost for the season with a knee injury suffered against Texas Tech.

Still, Oklahoma persevered and in the process tightened the Big 12 race. Baylor and Texas are on top with 4-0 conference marks, while Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State all have just one loss in Big 12 play. Obviously, the Sooners can make the race even more interesting by beating the high-powered Bears. That Nov. 7 matchup falls on a Thursday night in Waco.

The extra time built into that preparation will help the Oklahoma staff. Not only with preparation for a Baylor attack that leads the nation in average yards and points, but also with grooming a lineup that seems to get younger each week.

"It doesn't get much tougher from a defensive perspective when you're playing with three freshmen right in the middle of your line," said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. "There aren't many people in America doing that. To beat a team of that caliber says a lot about those kids, and it says a lot about our team and our depth."

Oklahoma forced three turnovers, including two that defensive back Aaron Colvin involved himself in with an interception and fumble recovery. In addition, the Sooners limited the Red Raiders to 72 yards rushing.

FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 8 IN THE BIG 12:

1. Oklahoma has enough resources offensively to effectively maintain the football and beat more explosive opponents by controlling clock. The Sooners defended their own end of the field well, then played keep-away with Texas Tech to hand the Red Raiders their first defeat.

2. Baylor continues to flex its might defensively, an asset that is largely overlooked because the Bears possess the most productive offense in the FBS. Bryce Petty continues to be efficient through the air while allowing his rushers to establish the ground game.

3. Texas needed an incredible recovery to bounce back from nonconference defeats to BYU and Ole Miss, yet the Longhorns continue to control their own destiny in the Big 12 since head coach Mack Brown made the league title the main goal. Texas is improving each week on defense.

4. Oklahoma State returned to the scene of the most bitter defeat in school history, a double-OT loss in 2011 at Iowa State that knocked the Cowboys out of the BCS title hunt. The Cowboys used a potent rushing attack as RB Desmond Roland gained 219 yards and four TDs in his first career start in a 58-27 victory over the Cyclones.

5. Kansas State, the reigning Big 12 champion, finally recorded its first conference win by using a strong second-half salvo to overtake West Virginia. Tyler Lockett returned from injury and grabbed three touchdown passes as the Wildcats continued to shuffle two quarterbacks.
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