Had to be the best-played road game by the Sooners against a quality opponent in a long time.
Pretty much great most of the day.
The new coaches
First, the impact of Jay Boulware on special teams, which were just about perfect versus ND – touchbacks, solid punting, no penalties (save for a sideline mistake on a horrible ND punt). It's hard not to make the association between Boulware's focus on special teams and OU's level of detail and execution.
Bill Bedenbaugh and the offensive line. Last year, no rushing yards versus ND. This year, more than 200. On top of that, the OL seems to have lost nothing in pass protection. That's the best defensive line that OU will play by a wide margin. If the OL pushes like that, they may smash some Big 12 defenses with the run. Running out the last five minutes of the clock and ending the game on offense in the victory formation sealed the win.
As for the defensive line, ND pushed around the Sooners last year. The DL made no real plays at all. This year, Charles Tapper made plays, Geneo Grissom had 6 tackles and Jordan Phillips was deflecting passes. Jerry Montgomery's group played great. OU has two All-Big 12 DL candidates right now.
OU's QB played a great game. You don't need me to recap why. Let's just say his poise and command are infectious for the whole offense. Bob Stoops should seriously think about giving his backups Belldozer-like roles to give them some actual game experience. It seems to have helped prepare Bell.
There's a huge list of guys who made big plays: Julian Wilson, Corey Nelson, Frank Shannon, "Brennan Williams" (the Sooners' running back duo), Zack Sanchez, Lacoltan Bester, Sterling Shepard, Aaron Colvin and Nick Hodgson.
I'm sure that I'm missing some folks.
I'm nitpicking here.
OU's short-yardage offense
The Sooners' third-down offense was just stuck in neutral. It seemed like OU got too conservative and predictable. By going with power/big personnel, OU played into the ND's strength. OU probably should have gone four wide and just passed on the ND secondary. With some more third-down conversions, OU could have put ND away much earlier.
The run defense
ND's power formations did manage to gash OU's lighter, speedy 3-3-5 look for yards on the ground. Mike Stoops is doing a great job running the D, but it needs some additional personnel looks to be elite.
ND's wooden bleachers
If not for the seat backs my sister-in-law told us to pack, I'd probably be removing ancient splinters from my ass. I can understand the older aesthetic with no jumbotron/scoreboard. But upgrade the damn bleachers.
*ND's fans could not have been more gracious and friendly during our tailgate experience and entrance/exit to the stadium. The pregame Yuenglings were great. It was nice when numerous ND fans asked if we were being treated well since they had visited Norman last year and received a great welcome from Sooner fans.
*Add a dual-threat tight end to the Sooner offense in the red zone and OU will be very hard to stop.
*Against power looks, if OU can add a big outside linebacker/hybrid rush end to hold the edge of the 3-3-5, the Sooners will be very hard to score on.