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Breaking Down the Sooners and the Ducks

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Did Oregon Coach Mike Mike Bellotti give the Sooners some bulletin board material Wednesday when he said, "Oklahoma recognizes they escaped last year" in regards to the Holiday Bowl in December? Not in my opinion! It was a close game and the Sooners did intercept the Ducks on the Oklahoma 10 yard line late in the 4th quarter to seal the game.

I thought Coach Stoops' response was appropriate and focused as well.  "Oh, I don't know," Stoops said. "It was a heck of a game. I think it's fair to see we had our other opportunities. We fumbled at the (Oregon) 1, and they had a fake field goal on us. . . . You can define it any way you want, but this is a new year and we've got to be ready to play."

Lendy Holmes has won DJ Wolfes' old position as the boundary corner opposite of Reggie Smith. He won our poll by an overwhelming percentage. Holmes has been given the "star" label and he'll have the opportunity to prove it this weekend.

By the Numbers:
Oklahoma is tied for 111th (out of 119 teams) with minus-2.0 per game.

Oregon is tied for 33rd nationally (plus 0.5 per game) in turnover margin, which equates to just two fumbles lost. Quarterback Dennis Dixon has thrown 66 passes this season without an interception.

Oklahoma is 46th nationally in rushing offense (162 yards per game), 36th in passing offense (249.5), 30th in total offense (411.5) and tied for 44th in scoring (30.0 points per game).

Oregon ranks 15th nationally in rushing (218.5 ypg), 40th in passing (238.0 ypg), 14th in total offense (456.5 ypg) and 14th in scoring (39.5 ppg).

Oklahoma's defense ranks 91st against the run (169.5), 46th against the pass (174.5), 74th in total defense (344.0) and tied for 52nd in scoring defense (18.5).

Oregon ranks 79th in rushing defense (153.0 ypg), 56th in pass defense (187.0 ypg), 71st in total defense (340.0 ypg), 48th in scoring defense (17.0 ppg).

Oklahoma is 49th in net punting (36.9-yard average), 15th in punt returns (15.8), 18th in kickoff returns (27.8).

Oregon ranks 65th in net punting (35.0), 16th in punt returns (15.5), 20th in kickoff returns (27.0).

Who to look for when the Ducks are on offense:

Oregon runs a spread option formation on offense. Quarterback Dennis Dixon (10) can escape pressure but doesn't run very often. He would rather beat you with his arm. He averages 238 yards per game and hasn't been intercepted this season.

Running backs Jonathan Stewart (28) and Jeremiah Johnson (24) combine for 162 yards and three TDs per game on the ground.

Who to look for when the Ducks are on defense:

Oregon runs a 4-2-5 defense.

FS J.D. Nelson (28) has made 25 consecutive starts, and had 13 tackles against Fresno State. DT Jeremy Gibbs (99) had two tackles for loss against Stanford. DB Patrick Chung (15) made 12 stops against OU in the Holiday Bowl last December.

Final Thoughts and Prediction
I honestly believe that the Sooners have a good chance to win this game. I also believe they have a good chance to lose it as well.

This is quite possibly the biggest game for Oklahoma since they faced USC in the Orange Bowl for the national championship following the 2004 season. All the haters are banking on a Sooner loss so they can point their fingers and say, "See I told ya they were over-rated!" The pressure in on big time for a Sooner victory and the team seems jacked to go get a victory.

The team that stops the run is going to win this game. Oklahoma will have some new wrinkles on offense, or at least I hope they will, and the Ducks might as well. Neither of the defenses has been impressive and the one that gives up the most yards on the ground will walk away with their first loss of the season.

The Machine Predicts: 38-31 OU