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December 2, 2008
Stopping an unstoppable offense
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Brock Christopher is about to play his 53rd game at Missouri. He has no doubt how the Oklahoma offense the Tigers will face on Saturday stacks up against the previous 52 he has seen.
"It's definitely tops," said the senior linebacker.
The numbers alone are mind-numbing. Oklahoma has averaged 59.5 points per game over the last six weeks and leads the nation in scoring. The Sooners have outscored Missouri, which ranks second in the Big 12, by 100 points. Oklahoma is averaging 354 yards per game passing and 202 per game rushing. The Sooners have scored 60 points or more in four straight games.
Asked if he had ever been part of an offense with such prolific numbers, Chase Daniel said, "In a video game. Not in real life."
The Sooners were very good offensively a season ago. They averaged 42 points and 449 yards in 14 games. But the 2008 version has taken things to a whole new level. How have they done it? The theories are multiple.
"I think their tempo," said Missouri defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus. "They've really upped their tempo and that's been a tremendous asset for them. They've caught defenses off guard a lot of times."
"I think Bradford, he's playing really well," said cornerback Carl Gettis. "They get the ball downfield a lot too, get a lot of long passes, a lot of big plays. They've got a lot of playmakers."
Indeed, the Oklahoma quarterback has been phenomenal, locking up at least a Heisman Trophy invite with more than 4,000 passing yards and 46 touchdowns against just six interceptions. But the key, say most Tigers, are the five men in front of Bradford.
"Their offensive line has been together and they've got guys on that team that have started a long time," Christopher said. "That offensive line plays together as a unit and it all starts on the line."
"This year, he doesn't get sacked," said Stryker Sulak, who will be charged with getting to Bradford. "He's so mobile. You saw against OSU when he got close to running it in. He's so athletic. I think this year, he's really opened that up and he's starting to take off."
It's one thing to know why Oklahoma is good. It's another to be able to prevent them from lighting up the scoreboard like a penny slot machine.
"I don't think there's a magic answer there," Gary Pinkel said. "A lot of people tried a lot of things and most of them didn't work."
If the Tigers want to bring home a Big 12 title, they'll have to find something that does.
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