Happy Gameday, Sooner Nation! It’s once again that time of the year when the Oklahoma Sooners take their talents to the barren, wasteland of the Big 12 — the dry, desolate town of Lubbock, Texas. A clash with the Red Raiders on their turf is seldom an easy path to victory, and the last trip down to the armpit of West Texas truly showed just how wild this half-rivalry could be.
The pyrotechnic battle on the field between the 2016 editions of these teams was likely a complete aberration, the likes of which will never again be seen any time soon. Baker Mayfield’s Sooners outlasted Patrick Mahomes’s Red Raiders by a Big 10 basketball score of 66-59 on that October night two seasons ago, and that matchup has been amongst the talk of the college football world this week leading up to tonight’s contest.
Head on down to the comments section for the game thread, where we’ll be asking questions, making predictions and discussing the day’s action with y’all.
TV: ABC 7:00 P.M. CT
Live Stream: WatchESPN
TV Commentary: Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay
Our old friend Graham Dudley even dropped by to revisit that evening of fireworks in Lubbock, which I’d suggest everyone read. Hope you’ve been well, Graham.
As for the my take on tonight’s matchup, I’ll start by stating that Kliff Kingsbury is a creative playcaller and a charismatic leader for the Fightin’ Zorros, and his presence and poise on the offensive side of the ball (and the weapons at is disposal) is probably enough to keep Texas Tech in this ball game — or at least much of it. Freshman Alan Bowman certainly appears capable of lighting up a scoreboard on the right night, although he did struggle against that creative Iowa State defense. He also has big targets to throw to on the perimeter in receivers Antoine Wesley and TJ Vasher, both capable pass catchers who present the type of matchup that has proven difficult to defend for the Sooner secondary in recent memory.
While both offenses shouldn’t have too much trouble moving the ball, I feel it’s time we finally witness the OU defense turn a big corner. Though the last two outings for Ruffin McNeill’s unit have been against rather paltry offenses in TCU and Kansas State, Kingsbury’s crew has the potential to be the season’s biggest challenge for the OU defense so far. But I have a feeling the Sooners are up for the challenge.
Ruffin McNeill’s first return to Lubbock since 2009 will be a victorious one, as his defense will make a handful of key stops and cause a turnover or two, allowing Kyler Murray and the supernova Oklahoma offense to inevitably pull away and seal the win.
The injury news about Marcelias Sutton is quite disheartening, and we certainly wish him well in the future. Oklahoma, down to just three backs in the rotation after beginning the season going five-deep at the position, has a four-star freshman in T.J. Pledger ready to step up behind primary ball carriers Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks. While we’re on the subject, I still miss Abdul Adams (let alone Rodney Anderson), but that’s another story. Having said all of this, the three backs at Oklahoma’s disposal are quality, so the position is in good hands provided they stay healthy.
The run game will be crucial and could lead to valuable clock-burning down the stretch — unless Kennedy Brooks decides to take it to the house, as he seems so easily capable of doing with any given carry. But I don’t expect this game to be in doubt past the third quarter.
The Sooners play a balanced ball game, rushing for more than 250 yards and passing for well over 300 to cover the 13.5-point spread this evening in Lubbock. With a win over the Red Raiders in hand to kick off Championship November, OU heads back to the confines of civilization in Norman looking poised to continue their march to a fourth-straight conference title (and more) through the stretch run of this season. Bedlam will be a big one if the Aggies can win in Waco.
Score Prediction: OU - 52, Texas Tech - 35
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