OU's ability to force turnovers reminiscent of 2000 Sooners
In its 55-17 win against Texas on Saturday, OU conjured memories of 2000, when the Sooners defeated the Longhorns, 63-14.
Along with a 65-13 rout in 2003, Saturday’s win was one of the biggest blowouts of Texas under coach Bob Stoops. While the offense was able to move the ball through the air, the most impressive performance of the game came from the OU defense.
The Sooners, who caused five turnovers and returned three of those for touchdowns, are beginning to make a case for being the greatest defense under Stoops.
And the numbers, particularly the amount of turnovers they have created, may support them.
In an age when a majority of teams are running a spread offense, statistics can be skewed, with defenses yielding massive amounts of yards to opposing teams.
In a game against West Virginia this season, LSU’s defense was heralded for its dominance, but it gave up 533 yards of total offense.
With this in mind, turnovers have become an even bigger factor in deciding the outcomes of games. The more opportunities an offense has to score, the better the chance a team will win the game.
OU has taken full advantage of extra opportunities from the defense this season.
Through the first five games, the Sooners have created 15 turnovers, one more than current No. 1-ranked LSU and five more than No.2 Alabama. Four of those turnovers have been returned for touchdowns. In 2010, OU only had three defensive touchdowns, with two of those coming in the Fiesta Bowl against Connecticut.
Turnovers have helped keep OU in the national championship picture this year.
Anytime an OU team is in the hunt for a title, there is a tendency to compare it to the 2000 national championship team. While Stoops’ teams in 2003, 2004 and 2008 were arguably more talented, they all failed to win their final games of the season.
What separated the 2000 team was its ability to consistently generate turnovers against the opposition. In the Sooners’ first four games in 2000, they created 20 turnovers. By the end of the year, they had created 36, tied for the most in a season under Stoops.
The power that turnovers can have for defenses is unquestionable. If an offense is struggling, turnovers can change the complexion of a game. If a defense is unable to create turnovers, it can wear down and find itself giving up a lot of points.
The Kansas Jayhawks, who OU plays Saturday, have created only one turnover this season. That inability to get the ball back to their offense has undoubtedly contributed to their 2-3 record.
Unlike the Jayhawks, the OU defense has been able to get the ball back into the hands of its offense with greater frequency as a result of these turnovers. When the Sooners go on the road to play Kansas in Lawrence on Saturday, turnovers could allow the offense greater opportunities to go up against a KU defense that is ranked last nationally in total defense.