The No. 7 Oklahoma Sooners (10-1) are coming off yet another nail-biter, but they’ll look to make things a bit less and earn an emphatic victory as they travel up to Stillwater to take on the No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys (8-3). If OU can add another notch to the win column in this comically-lopsided series (88-18-7), it will still be in great position to potentially earn a fourth College Football Playoff berth in five years.
It’s Championship November, and all of this team’s goals remain on the table.
No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners at No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys (Stillwater, Okla. — Boone Pickens Stadium)
Time & TV: Saturday, Nov. 30, 7:00 p.m. CT, FOX
Commentary: Joe Davis, Brock Huard and Bruce Feldman
Live Stream: FoxSportsGo
Radio: The Sooners Sports Radio Network broadcast with Toby Rowland & Co. can be found on KRXO 107.7 FM ‘The Franchise’ in OKC. For Tulsa listeners, listen to KMOD FM 97.5 or KTBZ AM 1430. Check out OU Football on TuneIn Radio for online access.
Line: Oklahoma -13 (as of Saturday at 8 a.m. CT)
Turnovers: In Oklahoma’s last two outings, the Sooners have out-gained their opponents to the tune of 511-204 and 525-307. Each would seem to indicate what would in most cases be a fairly comfortable victory, but OU has made life difficult for itself with turnovers during the 2019 stretch run. This, of course, doesn’t just apply to the last two games, as the Sooners turned it over twice in the loss the Kansas State and two more times in the near-fatal collapse against Iowa State. In the last three games, once-steady QB Jalen Hurts has been responsible for a combined six turnovers, each of which have caused OU fans to age rapidly. We all love Jalen, but at this point I might not make in through the season without having a full head of gray hair, purchasing the complete M*A*S*H box set and arriving three hours early for a flight. (Because what if I drive all the way to the airport and realize that I’ve left my wallet at home? Then who’s laughing?)
Unfortunately, Hurts has hardly been the only culprit, with T.J. Pledger, CeeDee Lamb and Jadon Haselwood giving it away to the opposing defense in the Kansas State, Iowa State and TCU games, respectively.
In the last six quarters, however, Oklahoma’s defense has finally begun to pick up a bit of the slack in the turnover department, with all three takeaways happening at crucial junctures. In a perfect world, Jalen Hurts and the offense wouldn’t put OU’s much-improved defense in these positions, but if the defense is able to make its own plays and at least keep the turnover battle on even footing, I like OU’s chances.
Defending the run: The OU defense has generally done a great job defending the run over the last six quarters, but the group is about to face its toughest test yet on that front. Chuba Hubbard, the nation’s leading rusher at 1,832 yards, is averaging 6.4 yards per carry behind a much-improved OSU offensive line, but what’s his most impressive stat? Well... Hubbard leads the FBS in rushes of 20 yards or longer, 30 yards or longer, 40 yards or longer, 50 yards or longer, 60 yards or longer, 70 yards or longer, 80 yards or longer and 90 yards or longer. Needless to say, the gap discipline of Kenneth Murray and DaShaun White will be kind of important on Saturday.
Having said this, Oklahoma State’s running game is now more limited from a schematic standpoint following the injury to Spencer Sanders. As we saw in win their win over West Virginia, the read option game now rarely includes the threat of a QB run, as Dru Brown isn’t as much of a threat with his legs. This, of course, allows the OU defensive front to key in on Hubbard a bit more. This most important variable in this game will be whether or not Hubbard is able to have a “good” game or a “great” game. If it’s the former, OU should cover. If it’s the latter, we’re probably in for another stress-fest.
College Football Playoff picture: If OU wins out, I genuinely like the team’s chances of ending up back in the CFP field — even if Utah and Alabama don’t suffer a loss.
Many of the talking heads on ESPN’s studio shows tend to get bogged down in the committee’s “four best teams” mantra, but in reality it’s more of a mission statement or a marketing slogan.
“Well how can you try to tell me that Alabama isn’t one of the four best teams?”
Here’s the thing — I’m not going to argue with that assertion, but this “four best teams” thing isn’t gospel. The committee isn’t there to find the “four best teams” or even necessarily the four most-deserving teams. The committee is there to find the four teams that make the most logical sense, and they’ve generally done a good job in this regard. Alabama, of course, wouldn’t fit this criteria if Oklahoma was to win out. Even with a win over Auburn, Alabama will have only one top-25 win and won’t play in its conference championship game. If both win out, you can’t possibly put Oklahoma’s and Alabama’s resumés side-by-side and justify picking the Tide. Giving the nod to ‘Bama would require the biggest pro-SEC conspiracy to date, and I don’t picture that happening.
I’m more concerned with Utah, but I’m still not that concerned. Oklahoma currently sits one spot behind the Utes while having much more meat left on the schedule. Even if Oklahoma State falls out of the top 25 after a loss, that win and another win over a top-10 Baylor team would likely put OU over the top.
In short... just win, baby.
Oklahoma 45, Oklahoma State 28