When I wrote when Abdul Adams before the season, it was to highlight him as a true-freshman running back earning early playing time following Rodney Anderson’s season-ending injury, most likely in mop-up time against lesser opponents. It’s wouldn’t have surprised many to see him get on the field against the likes of ULM, Kansas or Iowa State. But few would’ve guessed he’d be heading to Ames on a Thursday night as the starter — and lone available scholarship running back — for No. 14 Oklahoma looking to stay unbeaten in conference play.
Though it took a puzzling parking ticket incident to finally thrust Adams into an unexpected starting role this evening, the freshman has seen his share of carries this season, rushing a total of 41 times for 215 yards, and knew his opportunities would increase following the injury to usual starter Samaje Perine a few weeks ago. Adams, coming off a 91-yard performance on 13 carries in an increased role against the Jayhawks last week, will be ready to go tonight, and he certainly possesses the multi-purpose skill set that Lincoln Riley covets and knows how to utilize.
It was a positive sign to see walk-ons Devin Montgomery and Najee Bissoon contribute in last week’s home win as well. Riley may only have 25-30 touches to split through the backfield, as Mayfield and the passing attack will surely be asked to step up in Mixon and Perine’s absence. I also expect Dimitri Flowers to be creatively worked into the mix more in the backfield against the Cyclones. If Riley utilizes the Sooners’ dynamic fullback in multiple roles in a variety of run/pass formations, Adams will capitalize on the breakaway chances that should open up. Iowa State isn’t exactly a stalwart run-stopping defense, so ball control, discipline and a little creativity should carry OU’s run game tonight.
Maybe just a wildcard but I wouldn’t count out Westbrook as another option selectively used out of the backfield in trick plays, reverses, end-arounds, etc. Riley could decide to further showcase Dede the Great as one of the nation’s best all-around players. I’m sure he’ll be smart about it, but to be safe let’s keep the Biletnikoff favorite healthy to keep flying downfield and embarrass opposing secondaries.
A complete deviation from the run-pass balanced game plan is not advisable nor is it likely in Ames, so a typical Lincoln Riley offense and using the multiple running backs available, while most importantly taking care of the football, will lead to what should be a comfortable win on the road. On the road in another Big 12 location, and the Sooners could be in a dogfight.
On paper this has all the looks of a “trap game”, but in a strange way the suspension to Mixon might’ve jolted the Sooners — hopefully on both sides of the ball — for a focused and complete performance on the road. Young guys (with promising talent and growing experience) getting a chance to shine could really be the added push to keep OU focused against a lower-tier opponent on a short week that’s been full of surprises.
I expect the Sooners to be ready, play focused, perhaps work through an early mistake or two but settle into a rhythm late in the first half and pull away in the second to win, 42-21, on the road in Jack Trice Stadium.
Here are my picks for the other games I’ll be watching the rest of Week 10:
UCLA @ (15) Colorado (-12) (Thursday, 8 p.m. – FS1)
The Sooners and the Buffs showcased on Thursday night — it’s great to see Colorado Football back in the national picture. The Buffaloes, ranked in the top 15 for the first time in over a decade, roam and roll to a statement home win against the Bruins in Boulder, 42-24.
(18) Oklahoma State @ Kansas State (-2.5)
The Wildcats are favored at home and certainly capable of the upset against a mistake-prone OSU team. The Pokes are a tough team to gauge, as they could easily have one or more losses, or one or more wins, in the strange season they’ve played so far. Cowboys stay composed and play solid enough to eek out a close one in Manhattan, 31-26.
TCU @ (17) Baylor (-7.5)
I’d like to see the Horned Frogs pull the upset here. It’s not entirely out of the question, but Baylor takes care of business at home, 38-34.
Texas (-3.5) @ Texas Tech
This may be the early kickoff dumpster fire that gets my Saturday off to a good start. Could Patrick Mahomes II best his own records he set against OU two weeks ago against Charlie’s ‘horns this weekend? Sure will be fun to see him try. Texas is on a high from last week, and let’s be honest, they played a team that wanted to lose more on that day. Red Raiders win a shootout in Lubbock, 44-41.
(11) Florida (-4) @ Arkansas
Every team ahead of OU must lose, and I still hate you, Florida. Unfortunately, I see the Gators winning a close one in Hog country, 31-28.
(10) Nebraska @ (6) Ohio State (-17)
The Buckeyes at home take care of business (likely in the usual underwhelming fashion) against a resilient but overmatched Husker team in Columbus, 28-17.
(1) Bama (-7.5) @ (13) LSU
Crumble. Fall to the ground. Disintegrate into dust. The flagship matchup of SEC douchebaggery always evokes such positive emotion in me. Fournette is a beast, but Bama wins — score irrelevant. I hate football.
(5) Washington (-16.5) @ Cal
Just wanted to pick this one because if Chris Petersen and the Huskies needed any more motivation, they got it from the playoff committee ranking them behind A&M and outside the top 4. Cal is the first victim in line, and the underrated Washington run game will continue to pace a dangerous Huskies team to a playoff berth. Washington wins big in Berkeley, 45-21.
Also, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder head to the Bay area to face That Dude and That Team following the OU game tonight. A big night of sports is shaping up for the state of Oklahoma. Get pumped, Sooners. This week’s Scene Setter should help...Boomer!