After being used as a third-down / goalline situation guy, Blake Bell is proving that his place is starting for Oklahoma, and making that change for Bob Stoops is helping him put the Sooners back on the top of the Big 12, and maybe even be considered by some as national championship contenders.
In the weird world of the BCS, the SEC is guaranteed a spot in the national championship game as long as a team doesn’t pick up two losses, which means that teams across the other conferences need to finish undefeated in order to capture that one spot. Oklahoma haven’t played Texas, Texas Tech, Baylor or Oklahoma State just yet, but their 35-21 win in South Bend over Notre Dame proves this team has what it takes on both sides of the ball to be worthy of being in the national championship discussion.
The Sooners jumped to a 7-0 lead after only 49 seconds, as Tommy Rees was intercepted by Corey Nelson, scoring a touchdown. It was cat & mouse from that moment, with Rees intercepted three times during the game, there wasn’t really a chance Oklahoma would drop the win, playing so efficiently.
Bell is the answer to everything Knight wasn’t. He threw two touchdown passes and ran for 59 more yards, as the Sooners gained 212 yards on the ground. Knight got a chance to throw a pass and produce a couple of runs, but the dual quarterback system rarely works, and it seems handing it over to Bell is the wise choice for Oklahoma, improving to 4-0.
He was really sharp. He put the ball where it needed to be, finding the right guys, going through his reads. And give credit to the line to give them the opportunity to find those guys, so I thought he played great.
This was the first time Oklahoma beat Notre Dame since before everyone on the field was ever born, and was some sort of revenge for the loss at Norman to a much better Irish team last season, which had the defensive quality to overcome any mistake they made on offense, even their quarterback throwing three interceptions in the first half.
The important thing emerging from this is Oklahoma being included for the first time in the national championship discussion. There’s an SEC bubble, where it seems that all the big games happening outside of the conference don’t matter because whoever is sent to play Alabama, Georgia or anyone else won’t be a match unless its Stanford or Oregon, but there’s football in the Big 12 as well. Oklahoma might not be the complete package just yet, but it’s easy to forget how early it is in the season.
We’ve got a chance to continue to be really good. But we’re a work in progress. It’s only our fourth game. I’m excited to see where this team takes us. It’s going to be a good year.
With the memories of the losses to Notre Dame, Kansas State and especially an embarrassing bowl game defeat against Texas A&M, Oklahoma also have the fuel of wanting to prove they belong among the elite in College Football once again driving them forward.