Breaking Down Bedlam

There are so many things that could go right or wrong for Oklahoma in today's Bedlam football game that I really have no idea what to expect. On one hand you consider how well the Sooners play at home and you think that they have an outstanding chance to win. Then you consider how bad they've played in their five losses and add the fact that the competition at home hasn't been that great and suddenly there's a huge knot in your stomach because you realize the realistic possibility that the nation's longest home winning steak very well could come to an end.

The roles are already reversed coming into the game. O-State is the ranked team with a shot at going to a BCS Bowl. Regardless of what the final score is the Cowboys are going to finish ahead of the Sooners in the Big 12 standings and will get a better bowl invitation. The only thing left to happen is for OSU to actually win the game and they come in as a legitimate favorite and for OU to avoid losing their sixth game of the season they must win one of the game match-ups that they're not supposed to.

Quarterbacks

Landry Jones is completing 58% of his passes this year and has 23 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. At times he's look exceptional and then at other moments he's look completely out of his element. The knocks against him are that he's not stable in the pocket and doesn't read through his progressions.

Zac Robinson has completed 63% of his passes with a touchdown to interception ration of 15 to 7. Robinson is a dual-threat quarterback who has rushed for 302 yards this year but has also been known for turning the ball over on a big hit when he runs.

Robinson's experience and leadership give him a clear advantage over Jones but there's the chance that he may not play due to injury or that he'll be playing at less than 100%.

Advantage: OSU

 

Running Backs

Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray are averaging 4.3 and 4.4 yards respectfully with 12 touchdowns between them but they are a far cry from the dynamic duo that we saw them become last season. After rushing for over 1,000 each last season the two have a combined 1,251 yards this year. The problem has been getting them in space to make plays and clearing holes for them to run in between the tackles. That's on the line and not necessarily the running backs.

Keith Toston is the Big 12's second leading rusher with 1,130 yards. He's averaging 5.5 yards per carry and has crossed the goal line rushing the football 11 times. He's a powerful runner with good speed and is one of only two players (KSU's Daniel Thomas) to average over 100 yards rushing per game.

Toston has clearly had the better season of these three backs and despite Murray having the added dimension of being Oklahoma's second leading receiver the Sooners don't have a rushing threat like Toston has been this season.

Advantage: OSU

 

Receivers/Tight Ends

Ryan Broyles is one of the most electrifying receivers in the country. He's averaging 12.9 yards per reception and has 861 yards with 12 touchdowns. He's on target to break 1,000 receiving yards this season and it would go a long way for the Sooners if he surpassed that mark today. Behind Broyles is a massive drop off as Brandon Caleb has almost 40 fewer receptions and only 2 touchdowns. Dejuan Miller is coming on and is has pretty much inserted himself as Oklahoma's #2 receiver.

O-State was dealt a huge blow when the NCAA took Dez Bryant away from them. Since then Hubert Anyiam has become the Pokes' top receiver. He's caught 39 passes for 482 yards and 3 touchdowns.

After Anyiam the Cowboys don't have another receiver playing in this game with more than 15 receptions. Conversely the Sooners have four receivers with more than 20 receptions. What's a tight end?

Advantage: OU

 

Offensive Line

I don't have the words to describe how disappointing Oklahoma's offensive line has been this season. Now this unit has become decimated with injuries and literally a walking triage unit. The latest victim is Trent Williams who may have to sit out today's Bedlam game due to a head injury. Oklahoma has given up 12 sacks this season.

Oklahoma State has only given up 7 sacks this year and is much stronger in both run and pass blocking than the Sooners are. The have a future NFL All-Pro in Russell Okung as their anchor.

Advantage: OSU

 

Defensive Line

Oklahoma's defensive line against OSU's offensive line is the match-up that could determine the game. Jeremy Beal is third in the conference in sacks with 11 and third in tackles for loss with 16. Gerald McCoy is fifth in the Big 12 in tackles for loss with 14.5.

Ugo Chinasa has 4 sacks for the Pokes and 6.5 tackles for loss. However, you have to go all the way down to 11th O-States leader board for tackles to find Chinasa, a defensive lineman, listed.

Advantage: OU

Linebackers

Travis Lewis is third in the Big 12 in total tackles with 99 and Keenan Clayton is 39th with 58. Oklahoma will be without Ryan Reynolds who is a field general for the Sooners defense and that may hurt the Sooners more than missing his 67 tackles. In his place Austin Box will step in and try to get a head start on taking over the middle linebacker position full time next season.

Donald Booker leads the Cowboys in sacks with 5 and tackles for loss with 7. He and Patrick Lavine lead the team in tackles with 80 and 67 tackles respectively. Lavine also leads the team in interceptions with 5.

Both team's linebacker units attack down hill and are solid run stuffers. O-State is second in the conference against the rush (82.6 yards per game) and the Sooners are third (91 yards per game)

Advantage: Even

 

Secondary

Oklahoma is second in the conference against the pass by holding opponents to just 197.5 yards per game. The OU secondary has a combined 11 interceptions led by Brian Jackson's 4. Jackson and Dominique Franks are one of the best corner duos in the conference and safety Quinton Carter is a hard hitter who's second on the team in tackles with 76.

Perrish Cox is not only the best athlete in Oklahoma State's secondary he's most likely the best athlete on the team. He has 32 tackles and 4 interceptions but as a whole the Cowboys are 9th in the conference in pass defense.

Advantage: OU

 

Special Teams

Oklahoma State is last in the Big 12 in kickoff return average (18.6 yards per return) and while the Sooners aren't sitting pretty at #10 (21.2 yards per return) at least they're not last. Punt returns are a different issue for the Sooners where their 14.3 yards per return average are tops in the Big 12. OSU isn't too far behind at 13.9 yards per return which places them 3rd in the Big 12.

In punting average the Sooners have a 39.6 (Best in the Big 12) to 37.5 advantage. Oklahoma's place kickers have missed seven field goal attempts this season while the Cowboys have missed five.

If this game becomes a field goal kicking contest then I'm not sure that I like Oklahoma's chances. However, in the battle for field position OU's special teams units are outperforming O-State's in just about every category.

Advantage: OU

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