Intangible Stat Serves As Reason OU is 5-0

During the week prior to the Sooners' Sun Bowl appearance, offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson was asked what the biggest difference with the offense was in 2009 compared to 2008. Other than the sudden, expected key injuries that threw inexperienced players into the fire, he said the reason was the offense's inability to protect the ball.

The Sooners turned the ball over 26 times last season and won the turnover battle with a plus-four ratio. Even though OU was on the plus side, that number would explain the team's struggles considering it had a plus-23 turnover ratio in 2008.

Yeah, that would be an explanation of how the most recent Big 12 champion turned into a five-loss team, along with all the other misfortunes.

Now, the Sooners are sitting at a comfortable 5-0 with a No. 6 ranking, and a lot of that can be attributed to the fact they have a plus-10 turnover ratio. OU has taken the ball away from its opponents 14 times and has turned it over just four times – three interceptions and one fumble.

"It's been huge for us," said freshman wide receiver Kenny Stills. "It's been one of our goals all year to protect the ball; it's our main goal. If you don't have the ball, then you can't win games. So, we've just been trying to take care of the ball and we feel like if we have it there's no way we can lose."

The Sooners' plus-two turnover margin per game is tied for second in the nation with Army and Oregon State with the only team ahead of them being Oregon, who averages a plus-2.2 margin per game.

"Turnover ratio wins," Wilson said. "And we're pretty good at that one right now. We're one of the best in the country, and we made a big deal about it."

It has become clichéd to say the team with the fewest turnovers wins the game, but that phrase is said so often for a reason.

Just look at the Sooners' last two games.

OU kept points off the board against Cincinnati twice on key turnovers in the first half by senior defensive back Jonathan Nelson, and a muffed punt late in the fourth quarter allowed the Sooners to score a touchdown to put the game out of reach. OU benefited again from a muffed punt late in the game against Texas.

The late-minute turnovers may be luck, but Stills calls them something else.

"We've definitely caught a little bit of Sooner Magic is what people have been saying, but it's big for us just to be able to go out there and finish games," he said. "We've got to learn how to mature and go out there and close the game out."

Although the Sooners have not been able to have the killer instinct junior linebacker Travis Lewis has been looking for, they have been able to get turnovers often and at critical moments to get the victory, which is nothing to complain about.


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