Sooners hoping to weather the storm in Bedlam

NORMAN, Okla. – The sleet started about noon Thursday in Norman.

The university canceled classes later that day and the local school district as well as the University canceled all Friday classes. Morning snow showers were expected Friday as well.

Now, if only the Sooners could catch a break and hope the bad weather continues through Saturday.

Because for Oklahoma, that would be good.

Two weeks ago, the Sooners turned to Trevor Knight after Blake Bell went down with an injury against Iowa State. With it, they turned their offense over to a running quarterback. Not an experienced quarterback, but a running quarterback.

Naturally, the move wasn’t made with 10-1 Oklahoma State in mind, but after six quarters of productive football resulting in a pair of Oklahoma wins, Knight, with a pinch of bad weather thrown in, gives OU a way better chance of beating favored OSU Saturday in Stillwater, Okla., and keeping the Cowboys from a Big 12 title.

According to most weather models, the snow and the ice were expected to move through the state and be gone by kickoff Saturday, although temperatures are not supposed to get above 30 degrees. With kickoff scheduled for 11 a.m., it will be cold, but precipitation is not likely.

What also would be unlikely is Sooner offensive success against Oklahoma State with Bell at quarterback. OU has found its way the past two games running with Knight. OU has been a good running team all season but with Bell at quarterback the Sooners tried desperately to make 2013 similar to the passing teams of the past. The problem is, Bell doesn’t throw at the same level as former quarterbacks Landry Jones and Sam Bradford.

Bell’s also not near the runner Knight is. And that brings us to Saturday. In Stillwater. Against a Cowboy team that has the second-best turnover margin in the country.

Run the ball because of difficult conditions. Run the ball because that’s what your offense is suited to do. Run the ball, because that’s the best way to cut down on turnovers.

And now the Sooners have a quarterback who can run the ball to go along with an offense that has rushed for more than 700 yards the past two games. Oklahoma is averaging 242 yards on the ground per game. That number ranks as 16th best in the country, compared to a passing offense which is No. 100.

“Trevor has continued to get better,” offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “We’re better around him. He’s more comfortable in what we’re doing.”

Knight started the first two games of the season but was seldom used after suffering an injury against West Virginia in that second game. Bell replaced Knight and played well for the next two games but struggled after that. It wasn’t until the second half of the Iowa State game on Nov. 16 that Knight became more confident and more successful.

And then, in just his third-career start, against Kansas State, Knight went 14-of-22 passing for 171 yards and a score. He also ran it a career-high 14 times for 82 yards and another touchdown.

He wasn’t the same freshman quarterback against Kansas State as he was back in August when Knight became just the fourth freshman to start a season opener at Oklahoma.

And Oklahoma doesn’t have the same kind of offense now either.

That, and the weather, gives Oklahoma it’s best chance against the Cowboys Saturday.

Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK