MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) - Blame it on the high-powered offenses of the Big 12. Blame it on the absence of injured middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds. Even blame it on No. 4 Oklahoma's own no-huddle offense for taking less time off the clock.
Whatever the reason, the same Sooners (7-1, 3-1) that Bob Stoops rebuilt with a reputation as one of the stingiest defenses in the country are now relying heavily on their offense to win in shootout fashion.
The formula worked for the second straight week in Oklahoma's 58-35 victory against Kansas State, but it's quite a departure from the one that's helped the Sooners win five of the last nine Big 12 titles.
The Sooners currently rank 54th in the nation in total defense and 50th in scoring defense, which would both be their lowest positions in this decade if they finish the season that way.
Sam Bradford and the offense watched a 28-7 lead evaporate before scoring 27 consecutive points to regain control - and all by halftime.
``We always talk about on the offensive side of the ball that we can't worry about what happens on the defensive side. We've got to take care of our business,'' Bradford said.
``We want to score every time we touch the ball, so that's the mind-set we went out with.''
It's the way they've had to think over the past three weeks, as the defense has given up a new season-high in total offense each time out. Texas piled up 438 yards in its 45-35 win in Dallas and Kansas had 491 yards in a 45-31 loss before K-State's 550-yard output on Saturday.
The total for the Wildcats was the most yielded by the Sooners since 1999, when Texas piled up 553 yards in a 38-28 win against Oklahoma in Stoops' first season in Norman.
The highest after that initial season was the 525 yards put up by Southern California in the 2005 Orange Bowl and matched by West Virginia in the Fiesta Bowl this January.
Most of K-State's production came through the air, with Josh Freeman throwing for a career-high 479 yards. Stoops said many of the breakdowns were caused by the inability to get pressure on Freeman and bring him down, leaving the secondary to cover downfield for 6 seconds or more.
s bouncing off tacklers instead of avoiding them, it was similar to how Texas' Colt McCoy and Kansas' Todd Reesing bought time to make plays against the Sooners' defense.
``People are going to run it and throw it, and if you're not doing something particularly well in defending it, they'll keep doing it,'' defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. ``I think you're seeing these quarterbacks have some time to run around and throw the ball deep. We've got to be better and stay on top of things.''
It's easy to explain away some of the difficulties by noting that the biggest numbers have come after the loss of Reynolds, the team's only experienced linebacker, and taking into consideration the offensive stats that teams around the conference are putting up.
But Venables just wants to see the Sooners' defense get better.
``When you're talking about the things that have hurt us the last couple of weeks, you're talking about big plays,'' Venables said. ``We want zero big plays: no pass over 20, no run over 15. When those things happen, obviously that's not acceptable, regardless of the day and age.''
While the Sooners succeeded in keeping the Wildcats to no 15-yard runs, they gave up nine passing plays of 20 yards or longer.
ke over possession 10 times with 60 yards or less to go to the end zone. Seven of those drives resulted in offensive scores, including six touchdowns.
The problem is making that happen more consistently
``You can't be a Jekyll and Hyde and be any good on defense,'' Venables said.
The Sooners have been able to put up even bigger offensive numbers than the competition in all but one instance, and their offense will be more talented than just about any they face.
But when Stoops was asked this week whether it was more important to be playing great offense or great defense to win the national championship, he said it would take both.
``It's real simple. I think in different games, depending on how you match up with certain people, one may be more important than the other,'' Stoops said.
``But I think in the end, the great teams that are able to win national championships are pretty darn good either way.''

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