The disappointment of not originally being named the starting quarterback for Oklahoma is long gone for junior Blake Bell.
Bell is the man now, and that’s all that matters. In his second start, Bell was up to the task and then some in leading No. 14 OU to a 35-21 road victory at No. 22 Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon.
There were a lot of questions regarding Bell coming into his first road start. Bell has had several experiences in big games in the last two seasons and on the road but never as the guy.
That’s another one you can cross off the list. Bell finished 22 of 30 for 232 yards and two touchdowns. Maybe more importantly, it was another turnover-free game from Bell.
“He was really sharp,” OU coach Bob Stoops said. “He was putting the ball where it needed to be and give credit to the line to give him the opportunity to find those guys.”
Never was Bell tested more than early in the fourth quarter. Notre Dame had trimmed the lead down to 27-21 with the Sooners facing a third-and-three at its 46 yard line. Bell found sophomore Sterling Shepard for a 54-yard touchdown that deflated the crowd.
The only thing that has slowed Bell down in his two starts is conditioning. Bell started cramping in the third quarter, leading to redshirt freshman Trevor Knight taking over and leading OU to a field goal.
“He really responded,” said Stoops about Bell. “(Josh) Heupel was so mad – you’re cramping. He said he’s never had a cramp. When he went down, we could tell that’s what it was.”
Bell was also a presence in the rushing game with 59 yards on 12 carries.
Instead of Bell, it was Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees making the shaky decisions and costly mistakes. Rees was 9-of-24 with three interceptions and all of them resulted in OU touchdowns.
Going into the game, OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said we would all learn a lot about the offense and about Bell. What OU fans are learning are good things.
Through two starts, Bell has thrown for six touchdowns and no interceptions and has shown the ability to run and get key third down conversions. A third down run sparked him against Tulsa and seemed to do the same Saturday.
“You’re not going to drag him down if you just have his shirt,” Stoops said. “He has shown the ability to play at home really well and to play on the road really well.”
With each start, more questions are being answered by Bell and more doubts are being erased. Now the question is just how far can Bell take the Sooners?
OU is seemingly putting things together with each game. The Sooners had a chance to make a statement Saturday, and they did. It remains to be seen if OU is going to be in the national championship conversation, but it’s clear this is Bell’s team now.