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Bedlam Football: Sooners, Cowboys battle for the 112th time

The Sporting News
Two of the best quarterbacks in the country will square off on Saturday.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were the preseason favorites to meet in the Big 12 Championship Game next month. The media picked OU to finish first and the Cowboys second. Beldam is normally slated for the last weekend in November, but with OU and OSU favored to meet in the Championship Game, their matchup was rescheduled for this weekend so they would not meet on consecutive weekends.

The Sooners and Cowboys each have a conference loss and are tied with TCU and Iowa State atop the Big 12 leaderboard. The Sooners lost to the Cyclones, and OSU lost to TCU. The loser of Saturday’s Bedlam matchup (3 p.m. FS1) in Stillwater is going to have a tougher climb to the Big 12 summit and will be eliminated from the College Football Playoffs.

Both No. 5 Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) and No. 11 OSU (7-1, 4-1) have two of the best quarterbacks in the country. They also have the two best offenses as well. The Sooners because of their offensive line. The Cowboys because of their receiving corps.

OSU ranks fourth in scoring offense (44.5 average), and OU is sixth (42.9). The Sooners lead in total offense (586.1 average), and OSU is third (569.3). OSU quarterback Mason Rudolph leads the nation in average passing yards. OU quarterback Baker Mayfield is second in passing efficiency.

So, the 112th edition of Bedlam football sets up to be a rock ’em, sock ’em offensive display.

This game also got the attention of ESPN’s College Gameday, which will make its pregame appearance Saturday from OSU’s campus for the fifth time in the last 13 years. Gameday typically selects one of the best games of the week.

The offenses are expected to roll and put plenty of points on the board. But what about the defenses? The Pokes have the better ranked defense—51st in points allowed (24.4) and 39th in yards allowed (358.1). The Sooners are 60th in points allowed (25.3) and 57th in yards allowed (382.1).

Linebacker Emmanuel Beal leads OU with 57 tackles, and linebacker Obgonnia Okoronkwo leads with 13 stops for loss including 7 sacks.

Safety Tre Flowers is the Pokes’ leading tackler with 42 stops, and he is tied with safety Ramon Richards and cornerback A.J. Green with two interceptions. Linebacker Justin Phillips has logged 7 tackles behind the line, and end Jordan Brailford leads the team with 3.5 sacks.

Special teams could also be a factor. Neither team has been spectacular in the return games (punt and kickoff). Austin Seibert does all of Oklahoma’s kicking chores. He has averaged 43.8 yards per punt, has hit 7 of 9 field goal attempts and connected on all 44 PATs. OSU’s Matt Ammendola has hit all of his 44 PATs, but only 12 of 18 in field goal tries. Punter Zach Sinor has not been as good as last year. He’s averaged 41.5 yards per punt, down from 42.8 a year ago.

Last weekend, he had one blocked which resulted in a touchdown for West Virginia.

The Pokes defeated the Mountaineers, 50-39, last week in Morgantown. Both teams were plagued with turnovers. OSU lost three fumbles, and Rudolph threw a pick. The Cowboys recovered one fumble and intercepted WVU quarterback four times. O-State capitalized with a touchdown following four of the Mountaineer turnovers. West Virginia scored on Rudolph’s interception.

The Sooners struggled early in their, 49-27, win over Texas Tech last Saturday. The Red Raiders took a 20-14 lead in the first quarter, mostly gashing OU’s defense with the run. Tech rushed for 72 yards and passed for 139 in the opening period. OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops added a fourth lineman to slow Tech’s running game, and the Sooners held the Raiders to 43 rushing yards and 183 passing yards the rest of the way.

The Raiders didn’t succeed in slowing Oklahoma’s run game allowing 336 yards. Running back Rodney Anderson ran for 181 yards and a touchdown to be named Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Week. Mayfield threw for 281 yards with 4 TDs and a pick. Freshman wideout CeeDee Lamb had a career-high 9 catches for 147 yards and a couple of scores He was named the league’s Newcomer of the Week.

The running game will be the key for both sides. OSU hasn’t met many teams with a good running game. TCU and Tulsa are the two best running teams the Cowboys have faced this year.

The Horned Frogs rushed for 238 yards and won. The Golden Hurricane gained 244 yards and lost because they had a lousy defense.

OU’s offensive line should pave the way to open the running lanes. The Sooners have three capable backs, but Rodney Anderson has come on strong the last two games picking up 147 yards and a touchdown against Kansas State and 181 yards and a TD against the Red Raiders.

Oklahoma averages 216.5 yards (27th) this year on the ground while O-State has allowed 125.9 26th).

Running back Justice Hill is the Pokes’ leading rusher with 836 yards and 7 TDs. Hill missed most of last week’s game with an injury early in the contest, and backup J.D. King filled in nicely by picking up 142 yards and a score. The Cowboys have averaged 198.6 rushing yards (35th) per game. The Sooners have yielded 142.5 yards (44th) per outing.

OSU offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich must open up his playbook and not be conservative.

Stoops must not allow his defense to be timid and bring the heat on Rudolph. The Cowboys must disguise its defense and confuse Mayfield.

Mayfield is 11-3 against ranked opponents and 12-0 on opponents’ home fields. He seems to thrive in big games. He and Rudolph will put on a show, but the quarterback who is more poised will lead his team to victory.

FAST FACTS

*OU leads the series 86-18- 7, including two straight wins.

*OU leads 38-7- 5 in Stillwater, including two straight victories.

*OSU is favored by 2.5.

*OU coach Lincoln Riley’s record: 7-1 (.875) overall; 0-0 vs. OSU; 3-0 on the road; 4-1 vs. Big

12 opponents; 1-0 vs. ranked foes.

*OSU coach Mike Gundy’s record: 111-51 (.685) overall; 2-10 vs. OU; 62-20 at home; 67-40 vs.

Big 12 foes; 21-30 vs. ranked opponents.

*OU is 14-1 vs. OSU when both teams are ranked in the AP poll

*OU is 46-4 when ranked higher (or OSU is unranked).

*OU has appeared in 31 games (22-9) with Gameday present; OSU has appeared in 7 games (1-

6) with Gameday present.

*OU is 5-0 vs. OSU when Gameday is present for their matchup; 4-0 in Stillwater.

*OU is 12-3 in games played on November 4.

*OSU is 4-11 in games played on November 4.

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About the Author

Ray Dozier

Ray Dozier is the author of Legends of Oklahoma Sooners Football and two editions of The...

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