For the first time in three years the winner of Bedlam is not guaranteed a shot at the Big 12 championship. The Cowboys are eliminated from the conference title race, and are just hoping for bowl eligibility at this point, while the Sooners still control their own destiny.
The stakes aren’t quite as high in 2018 as they had been the previous three seasons but that doesn’t make the chip on the shoulders of Oklahoma State any smaller, nor the intent of Oklahoma to keep their current winning streak against the northern school alive and growing.
In the ultimate sports cliche, you can throw the records out the window in this one. Any Oklahoma fan would tell you that the 21 point spread means absolutely nothing today because they can still see Tyreek Hill streaking down the east sideline.
The Barstool Big 12 Throwback of the Week is the punt return by Tyreek Hill to send the 2014 Bedlam game to OT pic.twitter.com/NCZ3xqVaRc
— Barstool Big 12 (@BarstoolBig12) August 23, 2018
Oklahoma State comes into the game as a heavy underdog but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a path for success. Here’s three things the Pokes must do in order to have a chance to win.
Oklahoma State Keys To Success
- Run the football. Justice Hill took to social media earlier in the week to taunt Oklahoma’s defense. In last year’s game he ran for 228 yards and two touchdowns at an average of 7.6 yards per carry. They Cowboys need a similar performance again against the nation’s 46th ranked run defense. Running the ball effectively not only chews up yards, it also chews up clock and leaves Oklahoma’s offense on the sidelines.
- Win the turnover battle. For as fantastic as he has been this season, Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray has had some ball security issues in big games. Against Texas he turned it over twice and then tossed two interceptions to start the game in Lubbock last Saturday night. The Cowboys need to take advantage of such opportunities without giving Murray extra possessions by turning it over themselves.
- Make big plays on special teams. You only have to go back to that Tyreek Hill punt return to see the impact that big special teams plays can have on this game. Special teams scores are bonus points in a game that’ll most likely feature a ton of the traditional points.
Oklahoma does in fact control their own destiny. If the Sooners win out then they’ll be in Arlington playing for their fourth consecutive Big 12 championship. They team has named this month “Championship November” and to accomplish that goal they’ve got to handle their business against O-State.
Oklahoma Keys To Success
- Maintain balance on offense. When you’ve got an offense as explosive as Oklahoma’s it becomes easy just to hammer down and put the pedal to the metal. The Sooners enter this game 12th nationally in passing yards per game (316.4) and 12th in rushing yards per game (246.8). It’s that balance that makes them so dangerous. Should they get in a position where they become pass heavy then that plays more into OSU’s hand.
- Dominate the line of scrimmage. Notice I didn’t say win it. Oklahoma needs to look for dominance upfront against an OSU unit that has look very average at multiple times this season. Failing to do so could easily put OU in a similar position that Texas found themselves in a couple of weeks ago in Stillwater.
- Play for stops. There’s no such thing as shutouts in Big 12 football. The offenses are just too good. A defense can, however, play for stops. For OSU in to long-yardage situations by winning first down. The times that Oklahoma does force the Cowboys to punt then they must turn that ensuing possession into points.
It’s going to be wild but we wouldn’t expect anything less for Bedlam. Share your thoughts and keys to success in the comments section below.