Coach Bob Stoops said Saturday’s improbable comeback victory at Tennessee might have been his favorite in 17 years at Oklahoma.
The win might also be important down the road to the Sooners’ hopes in the Big 12. Oklahoma went on the road in an uncomfortable environment, fell behind by 14 points, didn’t quit and found a way to win.
That’s an experience that makes teams better and more confident and a recipe mix of conference champions past.
Things can change that quickly in a 60-minute football game. Imagine what can change over the course of a 12-week season.
“When you win these types of games, it can boost you,” Stoops said during the Big 12 coaches conference call on Monday. “To compete in that kind of environment is as good as it gets.
“I’m surprised more teams don’t play those kinds of games.”
In addition to games with Tennessee the past two seasons, the Sooners have had home-and-homes the past several years with Notre Dame, Florida State and Miami.
Oklahoma climbed three spots to 16 in this week’s AP poll and stayed at 17 in the coaches poll.
Baker Mayfield has been good at quarterback, but Oklahoma’s defense has shown its teeth in two victories to open the season, including holding the Volunteers to 125 yards passing a week after they threw for 328.
Cornerback Zack Sanchez, a graduate of Keller Central High School, was selected Big 12 defensive player of the week after registering six tackles, one for loss, a quarterback hurry and game-clinching interception Saturday.
“As much as anything it’s experience and maturity,” Stoops said of his defense’s improvement. “Last year, we started two true freshmen and two true sophomores. They all have more experience and are playing well. We have as good a set of linebackers as anybody in the conference. The defensive line is deep and a year older.
“We’re just much more disciplined in what we’re doing.”
A motivated Skyler Howard is among the Big 12’s leading passers after two weeks and has West Virginia off to a 2-0 start. Howard leads the conference in passing efficiency and is third in total offense, behind Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes and Baylor’s Seth Russell.
Most notable is the zero in the category labeled “interceptions.”
Not recruited out of White Settlement Brewer, Howard is playing with a chip on his shoulder, always told he was too slow and too short to play, coach Dana Holgorsen said.
“He wakes up every day trying to prove people wrong,” Holgorsen said. “He’s playing efficiently, doing a good job in the run game and taking care of the ball. He’s much more comfortable” than a season ago when he played in three games.
Kansas in the red
A bad trend at Kansas has the Jayhawks, off this week before heading to Rutgers on Sept. 26, at 0-2. Opponents are 11 for 11 in the red zone, including eight touchdowns, against a defense that has allowed an average of 557 yards a game.
On the bright side, Jayhawks running back Ke’aun Kinner has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the first two games.
Mahomes on a roll
For a second consecutive week, Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes has been selected Big 12 offensive player of the week after throwing for 361 yards and accounting for six touchdowns, including two rushing, against UT El Paso. Sharing the honor with Mahomes was Baylor’s Corey Coleman, who had six catches for 182 yards and four TDs in a victory over Lamar.
Texas’ Daje Johnson, who had an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown and one of 31 yards to set up another scoring drive, was selected special teams player of the week.