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OU football: Jalen Hurts' ball security, stopping Chuba Hubbard — 3 takeaways from Lincoln Riley's weekly presser

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Lincoln Riley

OU coach Lincoln Riley before the game against TCU Nov. 23.

No. 9 Oklahoma will play their final game of the regular season against Oklahoma State (8-3, 5-3 Big 12).

The Sooners (10-1, 6-1 Big 12) narrowly escaped against TCU Saturday with a 28-24 win. Coach Lincoln Riley talked about the challenges of Oklahoma State's offense, the quality of the Big 12 and more in his weekly press conference

Here are three takeaways from Riley's presser:

Stopping Chuba Hubbard

The biggest challenge the Cowboy offense will present to the Sooners is running back Chuba Hubbard, who ranks first nationally with 1,832 rushing yards and second with 20 rushing touchdowns.

Hubbard has scored a touchdown in all but one of his games this year, and Riley said a major challenge in stopping him will be his versatility.

"They've done a great job, using the lines done a good job blocking for him. And he's got a great combination of skills," Riley said. "He's got breakaway speed, he's got power, he's caught the ball and made several big plays in the passing game ... He's starting to be one of the best backs we've had in this league in a while."

Jalen Hurts' fumbling issues

Senior quarterback Jalen Hurts is putting up remarkable stats with 4,340 total yards and 47 total touchdowns on the season, but he has struggled with ball security.

Hurts has fumbled seven times and lost five of them, two of which came in the red zone against Baylor and TCU. Riley said his fumbles are likely due to his high volume of carries and is an aspect of his game he needs to fix.

"He's carrying a lot, and he's a little more susceptible to it," Riley said. "The last couple weeks, (Hurts) has carried it over 25 times a game, but for us to win and be able to separate, then he's got to hang on to it. Just plain and simple."

Big 12 defenses

The conventional wisdom surrounding the Big 12 is that it is a league with high-powered offenses but lackluster defenses, but Riley disagreed with that Monday.

Riley said the league has improved defensively this year and pointed to the fact that there have been more lower scoring games in particular. For his team, the Sooners rank 31st nationally in total defense under first-year coordinator Alex Grinch, a major improvement over last season's 101st ranking.

"If you take a true look at what a lot of these defenses in this league are doing right now, you're going to see really quality defenses and really quality coordinators," Riley said. "There's been way more low scoring games. There's quite a few new quarterbacks in the league right now which may be a factor ... but I just think there's more teams playing really good quality defense."

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