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PREDICTION: Sooners will beat the Buckeyes

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A crowd of more than 100,000 is expected for OU’s clash with Ohio State Saturday night at the Horseshoe.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – No. 5 Oklahoma will upset second-ranked Ohio State Saturday night (6:30 p.m. ABC) in Columbus, Ohio.

Now, before you try to haul me off in a straight-jacket and committed to the insane asylum, hear me out. I believe history sometimes repeats itself, and I think it’s going to happen on Saturday. Forty-four years ago, the University of Oklahoma promoted its young offensive coordinator (Barry Switzer) to the head job. This year, OU’s young offensive coordinator (Lincoln Riley) was elevated to head coach.

So, what, you say?

In 1973, Switzer took his eighth-ranked Sooners to Los Angeles to meet No. 1 USC, the defending national champions. It was OU’s second game of the year. Ohio State is Oklahoma’s second opponent this year.

Both teams battled to a 7-7 tie under the lights of the Los Angeles Coliseum on September 29, 1973. The crowd of 84,016 included 15,000 Sooner rooters. Oklahoma outplayed the defending champs in nearly every category but the scoreboard.

This year’s Sooners will battle the Buckeyes before more than 100,000 spectators at Ohio Stadium, also known as the Horseshoe. Not sure how many Crimson fans will be there.

Last week, Ohio State (1-0) dispatched Indiana, 49-21. The Buckeyes trailed, 14-13, in the first 23 minutes. OSU took a brief lead (20-14), but the Hoosiers answered with a touchdown for a 21-20 edge.

The Buckeyes then unleashed a four-TD barrage, which included three scoring passes from quarterback J.T. Barrett (74 yards, 59 yards, and 11 yards). Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins rushed for 182 yards on 29 carries in place of Mike Weber, who sat out with an injury. Weber, who romped for 123 yards against OU last year, returns this week.

OU opened the 2017 campaign with a 56-7 victory over Texas-El Paso. Quarterback Baker Mayfield completed 19 of 20 passing for 329 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Sooners to a 35-7 halftime lead. Mayfield got to rest the second half.

Five running backs got to carry the pigskin for the Sooners picking up 133 yards. Abdul Adams led the way with 53 yards. Fourteen players got to catch a ball rolling up 496 yards in the game. Tight end Mark Andrews led with 7 receptions for 134 yards and a score.

The Sooners scored a touchdown on their opening drive, and the Miners answered with a 78-yard TD drive. After that, OU’s defense settled down and held UTEP to 89 yards the rest of the way.

Oklahoma’s defense is going to have to play heads up on Saturday. The D got burned by the Buckeyes in a 45-24 loss last year in Norman. Barrett scorched the Sooners with 4 TD passes, all to Noah Brown. Brown has skipped his final two years in Columbus for the NFL limelight.

“I think we cover better now than we did last year at the same point,” Riley said Monday about this year’s secondary. “We’ve got little bit more depth, more experience.”

Although he only threw for 152 yards, the Buckeyes also picked up 306 on the ground. OSU jumped to a 14-0 lead and never looked back.

Barrett returns to direct this year’s offense, whose offensive coordinator is a familiar name to the Sooner Nation—Kevin Wilson, Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator from 2002-2010. He came to Columbus after coaching at Indiana for six years.

Football is won in the trenches—the line of scrimmage. The big matchup Saturday night will pit Oklahoma’s offensive line against the Buckeyes’ D-Line. Junior Orlando Brown, an All-American candidate, leads the Sooners front wall that played together for most of 2016.

The Buckeyes D-line consists of players who will be playing in the NFL someday. Senior end Tyquan Lewis, was the Big Ten Conference Player of the Year in 2016. He led Ohio State with 8 sacks last year. Junior linebacker Jerome Baker, who returned an interception to give OSU its 14-0 lead last year, also returns.

Baker also got a sack-and-a-half on Mayfield in last year’s game. Mayfield was sacked three times and threw two interceptions; the second led to another Buckeye touchdown.

The Sooners ran the table after losing to the Buckeyes last year and won the Big 12 Championship and the Sugar Bowl. Mayfield set a NCAA record for passing efficiency with a 194.6 rating for the 2016 season. After the Ohio State loss, he finished with a 206 rating. So, Oklahoma has to get its “A Game” from Baker Mayfield to pull off the upset. Riley believes his quarterback will bring it to the Shoe.

“He’s in a different place mentally than he was at the beginning of the season last year. I think the trust in the guys around him right now is a little bit higher,” Riley said.

If OU’s offensive line can keep Mayfield protected, and the quarterback is patient, the Sooners can prevail. Three defensive backs started for the Buckeyes for the first time against the Hoosiers, and it showed as Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow completed 40 of 65 passing for 410 yards and three scores.

Forty-four years ago, Switzer was going up against a seasoned coach (John McKay) who had won three national championships. Ohio State’s Urban Meyer also holds three titles (two at Florida and one at OSU).

Many young coaches might lose sleep over a huge game such as this. But, not Lincoln Riley.

“I don’t lose sleep about anybody,” he said. “That’s not any disrespect to Ohio State. They are a very good football team. You are going to have to play well to beat them. But I’m confident in the team that we have. We’re a good football team too. They are going to have to play good to beat us.”

So, I’m going out on a limb. I’ve been telling people for some time, “wouldn’t it be funny if the Sooners beat Ohio State by a field goal?” An iconic moment, two weeks shy of 40 years when Uwe von Schamann booted a 41-yarder to beat the Buckeyes, 29-28, in the waning moments. And, Switzer was the head coach.

The Sooners upset Ohio State on Austin Siebert’s field goal.

 

 

FAST FACTS:

*OSU leads the series, 2-1; 0-1 in Columbus.

*OSU is favored by 7.5.

*Riley’s coaching record: 1-0 (1.000) overall.

*OSU coach Urban Meyer’s coaching record: 166-29 (.851) overall; 62-6 at OSU; 2-0 vs. OU (one win as Florida’s head coach).

*OU is 53-83-4 against higher ranked teams.

*OSU is 114-9-4 all-time in home openers.

*ESPN’s College Gameday will broadcast its show from Columbus Saturday morning. OU has appeared in 30 games (21-9) with Gameday present; OSU has appeared in 39 games (27-12) with Gameday present.

*OU is 5-0 in games played on September 9.

*OSU is 2-0 in games played on September 9.

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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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