Saturday at 3 PM Oklahoma travels to Stillwater to face their instate rival Oklahoma State in this year’s Bedlam football game. Both teams are seven up and one down with the winner still in control of their own destiny (where ever that ends up in the final standings) and the loser feeling the shame of a historic winning season down the fricken drain. It will be a beautiful day weather wise Saturday, but in the end, the Cowboys or the Sooners will think that it was a day of what ifs. And today, just a few hours before the kickoff, if anyone tells you that they have a handle on how the game will go, you are a fool in believing them. Yes, you can have your one opinion and the following is mine. As a man that lives in a Bedlam family, remember you heard this from a poor Bedlam father, got no more cause to lie. These will be the last words I will say about the game, as Francis Elroy Duffy would say, as I leave you a lesson on what will happen on the floor of T Boone Pickens Saturday.
Oklahoma Offense and Oklahoma State Defense: As I had said in a previous post, the team that has success in running the football should have a decided advantage and in winning this game. The Sooners are excellent up front and when they start punishing their opponents defense with the run, Baker Mayfield and the passing game is much more effective. CeeDee Lamb and tight end Mark Andrews are first line pass catchers and are the go to guys. Dimitri Flowers is also dangerous in all aspects of the game, an occasional rush attempt and also a superior pass receiver over the middle. He makes big plays when it is needed. Oklahoma State’s rush defense has had great success against Texas, West Virginia and some lessor teams this year, but found difficulty stopping TCU in their only loss. Oklahoma must rush the ball on a consistent basis, and if they try to wear down the Pokes and forget the pass early, it could be too late. Look for an early key to be if OU is stopped on the ground. Check out how aggressive Lincoln Riley’s play calling is on their first two possessions. OU cannot allow the Cowboys to jump out to a two touchdown lead early. Playing catch-up is not good in this one as Oklahoma State is the best offense they will play this year. OU has to move the ball and three and outs early will cut into their offensive production and that could be fatal. As both teams want to control the clock as much as they possibly can, putting touchdowns on the board is a must. Better to score in two minute drives than come up empty in six minute drives. That goes for both teams
Oklahoma State Offense and the Oklahoma Defense: State has an advantage here if he injury bug does not mess with the offensive line Saturday. TCU was able to stop the OSU rushing attack most of the day in that game but the starters are back for the Pokes and they will test the Sooners. Many are saying that the Pokes cannot be conservative Saturday but they will try to establish the run as OU will. The horror of the Sooner defense is that they cannot cover everybody that the Cowboys throw at them in the passing game and this could lead to quick long touchdowns. OU will be tested often and if the Sooners play like they did against the likes of Kansas State and Texas Tech recently, this game could get out of hand early. It would not be out of the question to see Oklahoma State up two, three scores by the half. It is all based on Mike Stoops defense. If they hold up and get three and outs OU will have an easier time of it Saturday. If not, there will be some big time grumblings by Sooner fans.
Keys to the game:
- Baker Mayfield-Lincoln Riley can put his quarterback in some winning situations and the secondary player do their part by not dropping the passes and not fumbling it away OU is going to put point on the board. OSU defense is much better than in the past and get turnovers but that is on OU. Mayfield is the key for Sooner offensive success
- Rattle the quarterback, get in his face, and make him hurt-Both defenses need to be aggressive and try to put the hurt on the other team’s signal caller. If OU gives Mason Rudolph all day to pass their will be blood on Mike Stoops. With James Washington and his buddies, OSU, with time for Rudolph, can carve up this Sooner secondary. A stiff pass rush has to be and if Stoops has to bring the house he better bring the house because it will not matter if Rudolph has time to pass the ball.
- Do not count on the special teams to be kind to the field goal kickers-the team that has to rely on the field goal is half way to losing this game. Trust not either kicker. As for punting, OU has the edge this year. Look for a fumble or a serious mistake by the Pokes in the kicking game. It has not been a special year in the positive for OSU.
- Home field advantage-none, throw it out the window. Both team have lost on their home field and Baker Mayfield is great on the road (12-0). But here, no advantage.
- Coaching-You would think that Oklahoma State with an all-time school coach in Gundy would give them a significant advantage. My opinion is that both teams have good coaching and there is no advantage here
- Intangibles- Baker Mayfield for OU is a pure sure fire hell cat on the field. He is the man for OU. For the Pokes, if Mason Rudolph can find his receivers, OU will surrender great yardage and points to OSU. James Washington is not the best pass catcher in the country for no reason.
I like a high scoring game that could, for OU’s sake, could start slow in the scoring. By the end, the points will add up and I see that this one could go one of two ways. If OU can limit the Pokes on the ground and give up few big pass plays/dominate the trenches, especially the offensive line in pushing the Aggie defensive front back, OU can win a close but hard fought game. Oklahoma State must not waste possessions, and three and outs will cripple them. OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich has to use a altra- aggressive passing game Saturday, going downfield often, unlike the game last year. If the Poke offensive line gives Rudolph time, this will be a score fest.
My thinking Oklahoma wins in a close shave 34 to 31. (OSU is a three point favorite)
Feature Photo: David Britton-Stillwater News Press