The task will be tall for Oklahoma’s defense, in Columbus on Saturday night, but not insurmountable. While the two quarterbacks, and their respective offenses, have receive the majority of the publicity for this game, it’ll be the defenses that determine the outcome of the game.
The keys to victory for Oklahoma’s defense are basic in theory but fall under the category of easier said than done. However, if the Sooners hope to pull the upset at the Horseshoe these three keys are non-negotiable.
1. Win At The Point Of Attack
The battle of the line of scrimmage is going to be epic in this game! Oklahoma boasts one of the top offensive lines in the nation and Ohio State one of the best defensive fronts. When you flip the script and put Oklahoma’s defensive line against Ohio State’s offensive line you don’t see a drop in talent either.
In the biggest test of the season for Oklahoma’s new 4-3 base defense, it’s imperative that the Sooners take ground up front and not surrender it. Winning at the line will allow the linebackers to play their gaps without being impeded. Losing at the line will allow blockers to get to the second level and open the way for very bad things to happen to the defense.
2. Stop The Run
This is the biggest key and Oklahoma can’t do it without accomplishing #1. If the Buckeyes are over two hundred yards on the ground than their fans are going to be happy with the way the scoreboard reads. If the Sooners hold Ohio State to 150 or less then they have a solid chance.
3. Force Turnovers
You can’t say enough about this one. Next to the battle of the line of scrimmage, this is the biggest key. You want to give Baker Mayfield as many opportunities with the ball as possible. Taking it away from Ohio State is a double bonus with the potential of Oklahoma’s offense.
Defensive Players To Watch For Oklahoma
Defense Tackle Matt Romar | Here’s the key to the defense both winning the line of scrimmage and stopping the run. A lot of eyes will be on Oklahoma’s offensive tackle Orlando Brown when OU has the ball but equally so, those same eyes should be on Romar when the Ohio State offense is on the field. At 6-0/295, Romar is a load to handle and can be a game changer.
Defensive End/Linebacker Obo Okoronkwo | Part of stopping Ohio State’s run game is keeping quarterback J.T. Barrett in check. It is essential that Barrett isn’t allowed out of the pocket, where he becomes much more of an offensive threat.
Corner Parnell Motley | There’s no need to rehash what happened to Oklahoma’s corners in this game last year. The Sooners were completely exposed opposite of Jordan Thomas and with the loss of Jordan Parker last week there’s no experienced depth behind Motley.