— Cowboy Football (@CowboyFB) December 1, 2016
Kickoff: 11:30 AM CST
Location: Owen Field (Norman, Oklahoma)
Radio: Cowboy Radio Network, KXXY 96.1 FM (OKC area)
The University of Oklahoma Sooners have arguably the most balanced offensive attack in the nation that averages a whopping 322.7 passing yards and 228.1 rushing yards for a total of 550.8 yards of offense per game. This ranks them third in the NCAA. With weapons in essentially every offensive position, it should come as no surprise that the Sooner offense is easily the most dangerous aspect of Oklahoma’s football team.
Running the show for the Sooners is potential Heisman candidate Junior QB Baker Mayfield. Mayfield is having an incredible season through eleven games so far as he has thrown for 3381 yards with a 71.4% completetion rate. He has also thrown for 35 touchdowns while only throwing 8 interceptions, and he has rushed for another six touchdowns. Mayfield is known for his ability to move out of the pocket, which can create problems for opposing defenses, as he has the ability to run and make defenders miss or find an open man downfield.
Mayfield’s favorite receiver is another potential Heisman candidate in Senior WR Dede Westbrook. Westbrook has emerged as the nation’s top receiver with 70 receptions for 1354 yards and 15 touchdowns, and he is especially known for his speed and ability to get open downfield. In the spirit of Bedlam, Westbrook has stirred the pot a little bit with some of his commentary on social media.
Who’s Ramon Richards?? Just wondering! 🤔🤔🤔@CalebCato
— Dede Westbrook (@DedeTHEGreat11) November 29, 2016
He also posted this on Instagram, only to delete it later, but not before someone screen grabbed it:
— Royal John OSU (@WastedOptimism) December 2, 2016
Also not to be forgotten on the offensive side of the ball for the Sooners is perhaps the most dynamic backfield duo in the nation made up of Sophomore Joe Mixon and Junior Samaje Perine. Mixon has rushed for 1084 yards on 157 attempts (6.9 yard average) while scoring 7 touchdowns. He is also a threat in the passing game as he is extremely capable of catching passes out of the backfield. Mixon has caught 30 passes from Mayfield this year for 430 yards and 4 touchdowns. Perine is more of a power back, and despite being injured for three games, he has rushed for 735 yards on 142 attempts (5.2 yard average) while scoring 10 touchdowns.
While the Sooner offense is one of the best in the nation, the same cannot be said about the defense. To be fair, Oklahoma has had its share of injuries on the defensive side of the ball, which in turn has forced the Sooners to play younger, less experienced players. Oklahoma has surrendered an average of 443.1 yards (155.6 rushing, 287.5 passing) and 30.5 points per game, which is not great, even for playing in the Big 12.
Senior LB Jordan Evans is the heart and soul of the Sooner defense. He has 81 total tackles (44 solo and 37 assisted), as well as 8 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, 4 interceptions, and 1 fumble forced and recovered. Evans is capable of making plays all over the field, and he has done so consistently throughout the season.
The defensive line for the Sooners has been pretty decent at stopping the run and putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, thanks primarily to Junior DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. Okoronkwo has 58 tackles (41 solo, 17 assisted), 8.5 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, and 1 forced fumbled on the season. He is a disruptor, and he has done a great job at finding his way into opposing backfields.
The Sooner secondary is where most of the defensive issues are for Oklahoma, primarily because of Zac Sanchez’s early departure for the NFL Draft last season. Junior CB Jordan Thomas has struggled at times during the season, but he’s shown gradual improvement and has emerged as the leader for the Oklahoma defensive backs as evident by his play lately. On the season, Thomas has 41 tackles (35 solo, 6 assisted) and 1 interception.
Keys to Victory
- Pressure Baker: If the Cowboys want to have any chance of shutting down the Sooner offense, Vincent Taylor and the rest of the Cowboy defensive line will have to work their way into the backfield and force Baker Mayfield into some tough situations. Mayfield is squirrely at times, and he can easily evade rushers. However, sometimes, even when he escapes, Mayfield can be forced into a bad throw. The Sooner offensive line has only allowed 20 sacks all season long, but if the Oklahoma State defense can get into Mayfield’s comfort zone, the Cowboy Secondary (Ramon Richards, maybe?) might be able to force him to throw an interception or two.
- Give Rudolph Time: The Cowboy offense is a well-oiled machine, comparable even to the Sooners’ offense, but if Oklahoma State is incapable of protecting quarterback Mason Rudolph, it could be a long day. The Cowboys started off the season allowing Rudolph to be sacked far too often (17 in the first 5 games), but they have done a much better job in the second half of the season, allowing only 12 sacks in the last 6 games.
- Win the Turnover Battle: In 11 Bedlam games with Mike Gundy as the Cowboys’ Head Coach, only once has the winner of the game ended up with more turnovers than the loser. Oklahoma State ranks 12th in the NCAA in turnover margin at +9, while Oklahoma is tied for 68th with a turnover margin of 0. The Cowboys are tied at 20th in the country with 23 forced turnovers, while Oklahoma ranks 88th with 16 forced turnovers. Simply put, if the Cowboys can force Oklahoma into making mistakes, they will be in a good position to win the game.