Its the grand finale to the college football season for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State as the two prepare to square off in the 108th Bedlam football game. The conference championship and a BCS bowl birth are on the line for the Cowboys and a ten win season, with multiple bowl possibilities, is on the line for the Sooners.
Joining us this week for our opponent Q&A is Kyle Porter, from the Pistols Firing Blog, to give us perspective on the Cowboys.
CCM: Compare where this OSU team is now as opposed to where you thought they may be after dropping the conference opener at West Virginia.
KP: Comparing this current OSU squad to the one that went to Morgantown to open the season is like comparing "first episode of American Idol" Carrie Underwood" to "just married a famous hockey player and Erin Andrews covets my legs" Carrie Underwood. It's just not even the same team. I personally feel like Clint Chelf has a lot to do with that -- he stretches the field so much better than J.W. Walsh -- but you can tell this team has found a rhythm it likes on both offense and defense.
CCM: It seems like a brand new team since that game but is it more than just plugging in a new quarterback and running back, right?
KP: It is. I think college teams especially are prone to playing to the level that they perceive themselves. For example: If Baylor would have played TCU in Week 11 it would have beaten them by 40 because Baylor thought Baylor was better than an all-star team of the last four Alabama teams. It got brought down a notch against Oklahoma State and thus you got a three-point game in Ft. Worth. Same for OSU right now -- it's just playing like it was picked to win the Big 12 right now (which it was).
CCM: Oklahoma State is second in the Big Twelve and 11th in the nation in scoring offense but is the progression of the Cowboy defense (Top scoring defense in the conference) the bigger story?
KP: Yes, not even close. Top six in the country in points per drive on defense and second nationally in turnover margin per game (like I mentioned on the podcast Wednesday night). That's going to win 8-9 games no matter if you have Kansas' offense or Baylor's offense.
CCM: In regards to the offense, everything seems to start at the quarterback position with Chelf, who are the key guys that you're expecting to see make the big plays on Saturday?
KP: You know, it's kind of odd. I finally realized this week why I don't feel like this team is elite (even though all the stats tell me it is) -- it's because OSU doesn't have any stars this year. Like, if somebody asked me "who is OSU's best player?" I wouldn't know who to tell them. Justin Gilbert, I guess? Josh Stewart maybe? Chelf? Caleb Lavey?
That being said, Chelf loves finding the Moore brothers (Charlie and Tracy) and freshman Marcell Ateman had some monster catches against Baylor. I'd say those three guys plus Josh Stewart at receiver/punt returner if he's 100% healthy. They're all difference-makers. Watch, Jhajuan Seales will have 220 and three TDs now because I left him out.
CCM: Defensively the Cowboys are tops in the conference against the rush but 9th in passing yards allowed per game. When you look at Oklahoma's struggles to throw the ball this summer do you feel like the OSU defense stands with a significant advantage over OU's offense?
KP: I do and here's why: OSU's secondary is elite. That's not a sentence I've said or typed many times in my life but it just basically dared one of the Heisman frontrunners (Bryce Petty) to beat it deep all day with limited coverage and he couldn't do it. Mark Travis of CRFF had a great post about how Petty couldn't find any room down the field and when Baylor can't do it, I'm hesitant to think OU can. Just copy-paste me this sentence when Brandon Sheperd has 14 catches for 300 yards on Saturday.
CCM: Alright, prediction time. Your Cowboys are 11 point favorites in this game. Do they cover? Give us a score prediction.
KP: They don't cover but OU also doesn't score 50 like Mr. Switzer predicted. I'll take the Pokes 31-27 in a game that doesn't really feel that close.