My take on the game Saturday night in Stillwater between two 10-1 Big 12 powers in the Bedlam game of 2015. If the Sooners win, hello Big 12 Championship. If the Cowboys win, look for a major bowl, Big 12 title or not. This is the most important (for both teams) Bedlam game in history.
Quarterback: Both teams have outstanding quarterbacks coming into Bedlam. Baker Mayfield will give the OSU defense problems as will Mason Rudolph and JW Walsh will do the same to the Sooner stoppers. Given Mayfield’s concussion last Saturday, it will be a must that he plays for OU to have a better than even chance for a win on the road. If Trevor Knight starts and Mayfield sits, all bets are off. Grade- OU A with Mayfield but only a C with Knight. OSU- A for the two headed monster. Edge: Even (if Mayfield plays)
Running Back: Samaji Perine is the diamond in the rough here. Joe Mixon is another A class back OU can throw at the Cowboys. Brooks and Flowers can and will give excellent support for Perine and Mixon. They are game changers and money backs. Okla. State has average runners at best but because they do not rely on them to win ball games, that does not hurt them as much as one might think. J.W. Walsh’s short yardage running and the success on how the Pokes make that one, two, or three yards when he is in the game is significant. Do not count the OSU ground game out as they, when needed, can beat you at the goal line when touchdowns are needed. Grade- A for OU; B for OSU when you include J.W. Walsh Edge: OU
Offensive line: OU’s line blocks for the run better than OSU and both protect the quarterback about the same. A major concern for both teams and defensive line that can whip the others offensive line will have an advantage in winning. Grade: OU- C+; OSU- C Edge: OU
Receivers: Both teams have some significant talent when it comes to catching the ball. OU’s Sterling Shepard has great hands and is a dangerous player noted for making both the routine and the spectacular play. Dede Westbrook is an above average second receiver for OU and has to be covered. Depth is good but OU’s pass catchers do have a tendency to drop the ball. The TE is under utilized and could be a surprise threat for OU on Saturday. OSU has a deep group and with James Washington and Dan Glidden leading the way, the Pokes can fill the lanes and put terrific pressure on a Sooner secondary. Big plays in the passing game could hurt OU. Look for the Pokes to test the Sooners deep, often. Glidden will get his share of looks as will Austin Hayes, Marcell Ateman, and Josh Shepard. OSU must have success on Saturday if OU shuts the run down. Grade: OU- B; OSU- A Edge: OSU
Offensive Coordinator: Lincoln Riley’s first Bedlam will be like his first OU/UT Red River Shootout? This is a big time game and the team that doesn’t go all out will be left in the headlights. A fast start, with plenty of innovations, special plays, long bombs, etc. will be a advantage. Riley can’t be shy in this game and if Knight is the quarterback, the Sooners still need to be aggressive. Riley has said that Knight will not be handcuffed. As for Mike Yurcich, his improvement has been steady this year, especially with the great quarterback and receivers he has to work with. Even with the loss last week, his offense put up 35 points and over 500 yards. The same can be said for Yurcich, the game is for the taking. Aggressive play a must. Grade: OU- B+; OSU- B+ Edge: Even
Defensive Line: Oklahoma State has arguably the best defensive player in the Big 12 and as good a defensive end in the country in Emmanuel Ogbah. OSU has another outstanding lineman in Vincent Taylor. This group did not play well against Baylor and will have to stop Perine and Mixon or the Sooners become two-dimensional and the Pokes will give up points in bunches as they gave the Baylor Bears. Jimmy Bean will be missed by the Cowboys. As for the Sooners, their defensive line should have plenty of success as they are a strong group that can get after it. Say what you want, but the match-ups here give OU a decided advantage over the Poke offensive line. OU has a great young group here. Grade: OSU- C+; OU- A- Edge: OU
Linebackers: The way the Cowboys allow teams to march down the field then make the big stop or turnover tell me that the linebackers are good but not great. They do possess speed and can get after you. As for OU, You can say that with Jordan Evans and Dom Alexander they have the experience to bring it. Eric Striker, as the defensive end or outside backer, the Sooner have their game changer. Same can be said with Devante Bond on the other end. Call them what you want, they are speedy and can play the rush or step back and defend. Grade: OSU- B; OU A Edge: OU
Defensive Secondary: Both teams are better than average and not just in the conference. OSU’s Kevin Peterson is an NFL corner and will get Shepard in coverage. He will win his share of battles. Sterns is a good safety but must not allow the big over the top play. Baylor killed this secondary and OU has the same striking ability. For OU, look for Zack Sanchez to be tested with taller and much bigger receivers. Ahmad Thomas should have some success with OSU’s James Washington but if the Pokes can get one of their bigger receivers to work on Sanchez the Pokes will have success. Grade: OSU- B; OU- B Edge: Even
Defensive Coordinators: OSU’s Glenn Spencer doesn’t get upset when OSU has problems, especially early in games. Except for the Baylor game, the Pokes are strong in the 4th quarter and get the stop or a turnover. The Cowboys play with speed and Spencer is sound, knowing this is the Big 12 and you are not going to completely shut teams like OU down. For Mike Stoops, OU has made a significant improvement from last year. The fact of the matter is that OU’s total defensive package will also give up some points and big plays but in total, this is an excellent defense, and in my opinion, the most talented defense in the league. Grade: OSU- A-; OU: A- Edge: Even
Special Teams: Look for limited success in punt and kickoff returns for both teams. As for the placement, both have good kickers that do occasionally miss. If given a chance to win a game, OSU’s Ben Grogan has done it. Punting has been strong for OSU with Zach Sinor pinning the opponents deep often. Grade: OSU- B; OU- B- Edge: OSU
Intangibles: The game is at Stillwater and that is positive for the Cowboys. With a loss last week, OSU will have that advantage that Baylor had after their loss at home to OU. The Pokes are a very confident group and have excellent leadership with J.W. Walsh on this team. He is the Baker Mayfield of the Pokes and vice versa. The crowd will be hyped up and it is always tough to win on the road in the Big 12 when teams are comparable. OU has a National Title shot to play for and that should be enough for them to play with intensity. OSU is also playing for a chance of a Big 12 Championship and with a win, even if Baylor beats their final two foes, the Pokes have a great chance to play in either the Fiesta Bowl or the Sugar if the Bears are chosen for the playoffs. When you get two 10-1 teams going at it that is in itself a game between two very successful teams. The weather won’t be good but forget it. This game will be won by the team that makes plays, does not turn the ball over, and makes stops. With Baker Mayfield playing his normal game, this one is a pick’em at best. With Trevor Knight at QB for OU, the Cowboys take this one.
Final: OU 34, Oklahoma State 33 (Baker Mayfield plays)
Final: OSU 44, OU 24 (if Trevor Knight plays
OU is big trouble if the Heisman hopeful is out.