The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders will take just their third crack in the history of their football program at a Big 12 school Saturday night when they play the Sooners in Norman. They have an 0-2 record against Big 12 competition losing to Missouri and Texas A&M. Oklahoma would love to not only extend MTSU's losing streak to Big 12 Conference teams but the Sooners also need to win convincingly.
When the Blue Raiders are on Defense...
They will blitz all night! MTSU has good defensive speed but has sacrificed size to get there. They will be on the attack led by linebacker J.K. Sabb who is quick to the ball. The Blue Raiders may struggle to stop the run which means Adrian Peterson could have a career night.
MTSU is going to follow the same defensive game plan as the Sooners' other three opponents and stack the line in order to limit Oklahoma's running game which means the receivers could be dealing with one-on-one coverage. Say what you want about Paul Thompson but he has shown that he is capable of beating you with his arm and is improving from game to game.
When the Sooners are on Offense...
They will initially try to overpower the Blue Raiders and run, run, run. Adrian Peterson is second in the nation in rushing and could be number one by the end of the night. I expect Peterson to have over 200 yards rushing and here's the reason why. With the next game being Texas the Oklahoma offense is going to be as vanilla as the Blue Raiders allow it to be.
If Peterson is successful early then expect him to exceed the 35 carry mark against MTSU and the Oklahoma passing game to take a back seat to the running game.
When the Blue Raiders are on Offense...
They will be a run first team. Look for them to use counter plays and misdirection plays to try to open something up in the running game. They are a run by committee offense where Eugene Gross, DeMarco McNair, Alex Suber, Phillip Tanner and Desmond Gee all could be possibilities to run the ball.
In the passing game they are led by senior quarterback Clint Marks who is second in the nation in passing accuracy but has a tendency to try to force the pass into coverage. The Blue Raiders also lack experience and speed in their receiving corps.
When the Sooners are on defense...
Look for them to try to mix in various personnel trying to find the right combination of defense backs. Reggie Smith is the best of the defensive backs and could play both the safety and corner positions. Marcus Walker is also going to get the start at corner in place of Lendy Holmes who started in place of DJ Wolfe last week in Oregon.
I actually think this is a good match-up for the Oklahoma defense. Size and speed should play a factor for the Sooners Saturday night for a defense that desperately needs to find their identity.
Last Minute Notes and Stuff...
It looks like true freshman Chase Beeler will be making his first start in place of starting center Jon Cooper who is nursing an injured ankle.
MTSU will be without starting offensive tackle Germayle Franklin, who will miss the game due to a death in the family.
The Blue Raiders offensive line coach Jimmy Ray Stephens is worried about how his unit will fair in front of a crowd of 84,000 plus. He admits the crowd noise will make it difficult to audible.
"When you're playing away from home in front of a large crowd, it really helps to eliminate some of the checking that you can do in your offense. So it makes things more vanilla sometimes," Stephens said.
Crimson and Cream Machine Predicts: 44-17 OU
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