Justin K. Aller
The CCM roundtable is back, talking Landry Jones vs. the West Virginia defense, key players, a potential new rival and much more.
Does the horrific WVU defense make up for any confidence issues you may have with Landry Jones?
Rich: This is the key matchup in my opinion. To give a short and sweet answer to the question, I'm throwing out a yes. Landry Jones has upped the ante in the past two games throwing for a total of six touchdowns. We know he has the receivers but the question remains, will he be able to deliver the ball to them accurately? The last two games say yes but the road history says no and I'm banking on him riding the momentum. Essentially, this factor boils the game down to if West Virginia will be able to keep pace.
Jordan: In a word, no. Landry Jones has the ability to make even the worst defenses look competent. If there is a way to throw a mind-numbingly, what could he possibly have been thinking, like interception Landry is the man for that job.
Matt: I say yes! Does that mean that OU won't make mistakes? I say no! This team has proven, over and again, that the potential for a drive killing mistake is always going to be there. However, West Virginia has proven that their defense is the perfect remedy for struggling offenses. That said, I don't believe that Oklahoma's offense is struggling which, at least in my mind, puts the Sooners on pace to score a lot of points.
Looks like conference championships are fading but is there any excitement on your part about the potential start of a new conference rival with this game?
Jordan: I like the revenge factor of avenging that Fiesta Bowl embarrassment, but I think that (if it even exists) is much more on the part of the fans than it is this OU team (who I'd bet couldn't care less). I'm just not sure I see how this could turn into a rivalry. Of the two newbies, I'd say the odds of OU actually developing a rivalry would be much stronger with TCU for a number of reasons -- proximity, recruiting, etc. Of course, I could be wrong and maybe something starts to develop between Oklahoma and West Virginia but at this point I'd say that's probably wishful thinking.
Matt: I feel like the potential of this developing into a new rivalry went out the window when the potential of this game determining the Big 12 champion disappeared. To really establish a rivalry you have to have proximity, a questionable call from a close game in a previous meeting, or championships determined by the outcome. Oklahoma and West Virginia don't have any of that.
Rich: Not particularly for me. At this point in time, Baylor has a chance to be a better rival than West Virginia does in conference. Of course, people will remember the WVU team that bounce the Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl but that is in the distant past for many. In my mind, WVU will be no more of a rival than Baylor is right now due to distance in combination with little history between the teams.
Key matchup for Oklahoma's defense in this game is...?
Matt: Oklahoma's safeties vs. Geno Smith. I strongly feel like Oklahoma has to blitz in this game. I just don't see there being any way around it. Doing that effectively is going to require the safeties to take the lead on the defense once again. Not only are they going to have to be successful in blitzing, they are going to have to be perfect in over the top coverage as well as keeping the Mountaineers from getting a big gain off of a short pass.
Rich: Geno Smith. This is a kid who has the ability to make something happen with his running capability. Oklahoma has consistently struggled with mobile QBs and nothing will be different on Saturday. All season long, the Sooners have shown an inability to get pressure on the QB with the defensive line consistently. While it has not hurt them in many games, it could play a significant role in this one. Tavon Austin has the ability to be the game breaker whether in the return game or as a receiver. The more time Smith has to move or stand around in the pocket, the greater the potential for busted coverage.
Jordan: OU offensive line vs. WVU defensive line. I suspect many would say it's the OU defensive backs vs. the WVU wide receivers, and I get that, but the battle up front is much more important as far as I'm concerned. If OU cannot get pressure and Geno Smith has all day to throw, it's going to be a looooooooong night for our Sooners. Oklahoma getting pressure only makes their secondary's job all the easier as Smith has shown to be not all that big a fan of getting hit and/or pressured. The problem being OU hasn't been able to generate much pressure all season, be that with their front four or bringing extra guys with the blitz.
Outside of the BCS championship, name your dream bowl match-up this season for OU, and why.
Rich: I would like to see Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl against a team like Alabama. This would be a highly anticipated matchup as both are powerhouse schools who have found themselves in the national title mix more often than not in recent years. Not only that, but it will also set up a Big XII vs SEC matchup, something many wanted to see last season. The nation's best offenses taking on the nation's best defenses in an epic showdown would make for a great game while helping to settle the question of which conference is more dominant looking toward the future.
Jordan: I'm not entirely sure I have one. It's kind of that catch-22 where you want them to play a good opponent so they don't show up flat yet again, but you also want them to be in a game they have a pretty good chance of winning. I'll go the "dream match-up" being one semi-realistic as opposed to one that is dreamy, but no real chance of actually happening. I'm tempted to go with one of the current projections that has OU playing Texas A&M simply for the chance that Tony Jefferson could deliver the kill shot on Johnny Football that I have been so desperately waiting for all year. Sadly though, I think that kid would have a field day against this OU defense and I sure as hell don't want to have to live through that.
So I'll say OU vs. LSU, which is another current projection that's being floated out there. It's an SEC team that I would feel pretty confident in OU beating, plus they could stick it to Lester one more time.
Matt: I've fallen in love with the idea of an Oklahoma/Nebraska Rose Bowl. It's a different location for the Sooners and it renews a historic rivalry. Why wouldn't we want that?
Big 12 power rankings
Jordan: KSU, '2-9, does it even really matter?', KU
Matt: Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, West Virginia, TCU, Iowa State, Baylor, Kansas
Rich: KSU, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, TCU, West Virginia, Oklahoma St., Iowa St., Baylor, Kansas