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OU Football: Week 15 Notebook

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

It's Bedlam week in Oklahoma and not even a thick fog would prevent OU coach Bob Stoops and players from talking about Saturday's game against Oklahoma State in Stillwater. The fog delayed Stoops returning to Norman from a recruiting trip, but there was plenty to talk about once he arrived. Here are some news and notes from the press conference.

• Due to Stoops' late arrival in Norman, he didn't have an update on the injured Oklahoma players who missed the last game against Kansas State. Stoops did mention he anticipated quarterback Blake Bell to be healthy and available if needed.

• Oklahoma State leads the Big 12 in turnover margin at +16 and has only turned the ball over 13 times this season. The Cowboys also have a +13 turnover margin during their current seven-game winning streak. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops and safety Gabe Lynn both said the Oklahoma defense's performance on third down would be as critical as forcing turnovers against the Cowboys.

• Lynn said the OU players who come from outside Oklahoma and Texas don't need to be educated on the importance of the Sooners' rivalry with the Cowboys even though it doesn't have the same national appeal of an OU-Texas or Auburn-Alabama.

• Center Gabe Ikard said the Sooners aren't worried about being an underdog going against OSU this week, saying they don't pay attention to things like that and don't view themselves as an underdog.

• Ikard said the Sooners will have to start fast and put up points to take the crowd out of the game early against the Cowboys. The Sooners haven't started fast often this season, but did jump out to a 14-0 lead two weeks ago against KSU.

• Ikard and running back Brennan Clay said they prefer Oklahoma State to be a good, competitive rival as opposed to an annual punching bag. Ikard praised the work OSU has done on its program the past decade, saying the days of rolling over the Cowboys every year are over.

• Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said the Cowboys aren't doing anything differently on offense from a scheme standpoint, but are executing better and are obviously getting better and more consistent quarterback play.

• Stoops said there is a "night and day" difference between the OU defense right now and the defense a season ago heading into Bedlam.

• The weather for Saturday calls for highs in the 20s with the possibility of wintry precipitation earlier in the week. Bob Stoops said the weather is something both teams will have to deal with, but said it does bring about an increased emphasis on ball security. Stoops said it also affects the aggression coaches can have in play-calling, but added the wind is the thing that affects game most, much more so than simply cold temperatures.

• Stoops echoed brother Mike, saying he is very pleased with the strides the defense has made this year, but added there was a lot more of improvement the unit could make, citing the group's youth as a big reason to look forward to the future.

• When asked if he appreciated the Cowboys' growth into a national power, Stoops joked, "No, I don't appreciate it," before going on to praise all OSU has done over the years under Mike Gundy to become a player on the national stage each year.

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