Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys

Bedlam 2020 Could Feature Something Unusual…Defense

M. Hofeld

matthofeld

Over the last ten years Bedlam has been nothing short of a massive display of offensive firepower. Combining for an average of 76.9 points per game over the last ten meetings, Bedlam has featured a slew of Heisman Trophy winners, and runners up, as well as national award winners and watch list candidates.

The lowest offensive output for Oklahoma was 10 points in the disastrous 2011 game and the low point for Oklahoma State was 16 in last season’s game. Even so, the Sooners are averaging 41 points per contest over the last ten Bedlam meetings while the Cowboys are averaging 35.3 per game over the same span.

If current trends hold for 2020 though, we could be in for something totally different on Saturday night because Oklahoma and Oklahoma State boast two of the Big 12’s top defenses this season.

The Cowboys rank second in the conference and 13th nationally (among teams that have played more than two games) in total defense (311.5 ypg) while the Sooners rank third and 22nd (338.1 ypg).

OU leads the Big 12 in rushing defense (98.6 ypg; 12th nationally) and sacks per game (3.7; seventh nationally), while OSU is tied at the top of the conference in scoring defense (17.8 ppg; 13th nationally) and pass efficiency defense (110.8; ninth nationally).

In the last four games along Oklahoma has recorded 20 sacks and 39 tackles for loss. Nik Bonitto (5.5) and Isiah Thomas (4.5) have combined for a total of 10 sacks this season. According to Pro Football Focus Bonitto leads the nation in quarterback pressure percentage this season and two weeks ago Ronnie Perkins led the nation in quarterback pressures with 11 against Kansas.

Both Mike Gundy and Lincoln Riley know that their defenses face strong challenges this weekend. “Defensively, we’ve been very consistent” Gundy said Monday. However, he went on to say that his team has yet to faced the type of offensive firepower that the Sooners will bring. “This’ll be the biggest challenge for our defense this week, with the skill that Oklahoma has on the perimeter.”

Things won’t be any easier on the other sideline either. “It doesn’t get a whole lot tougher than this,” Alex Grinch said on Wednesday when asked about defending the trio of Oklahoma State’s Spencer Sanders, Chuba Hubbard, and Tylan Wallace.

Currently the Sooners and Cowboys rank among the best in the country in opponent third-down conversion percentage, with OSU ranking first (23.3%) and OU ranking fifth (28.0%). That’s going to be a key match-up to watch as the Sooners are converting just under 45% of the time on third down (37th nationally) and the Cowboys are moving the chains around 39% of the time on third down (72nd). Whichever squad has the highest conversion rate on Saturday is most likely going to have the advantage on the scoreboard as well. As if either defense needed any more pressure added to the moment.

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