Oklahoma State has had the opportunity to "make history" in every bedlam game since 2009. That year, the only thing standing between the Pokes and their first ever BCS bid was a 6-5 Sooner team s looking to salvage a lost season. Final Score? OU 27 STATE 0.
2010 was no different. The #12 ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys hosted the Sooners in Stillwater for yet another chance at a BCS berth and again fell short.
This year, the Cowboys find themselves, once again, matched up against an injured Sooner team with 2 losses. Ryan Broyles is out. Dominic Whaley is out. Their defense is bruised, both mentally and physically, but does it matter?
Can Oklahoma State put the past behind them and beat the Sooners for the first time since 2002?
It is important to note that this game will be held in God's country. You might know it as Stillwater, OK. We can thank the departure of Nebraska and Colorado for that. It's noteworthy because I highly doubt that anyone in the history of sports has had the opportunity to play their rival at home two years in a row. This has to be an advantage, right?
So what can Oklahoma State do this time to send Bob Stoops back to Norman with his third loss on the season and secure a spot in a BCS Bowl?
1. Defensive Pressure on Landry Jones
Landry Jones is a great QB, but he makes really bad decisions when he’s under pressure. The Oklahoma State pass rush, with Richetti Jones and Jamie Blatnick has been excellent at times this season. If the Cowboys can pressure Landry, and force him in to making some bad decisions, it will slow the Sooner offense down. Give Landry time and he will pick you apart. See Bedlam 2010. The defense as a whole is going to have to play well, but it all starts with the pass rush.
Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon are the best Quarterback/Wide Receiver duo in the nation. There is absolutely not doubt about that. They haven’t had many "off" games this season but they are both the kind of players that are so good, you know when they're not in the zone. There will be no room for drops and/or fumbles in the end zone. Weeden will have to be dialed in, like we’ve seen so many times throughout the season. It's the final time they'll hook it up in BPS. Think about Weeden in the first half against Arizona and Blackmon against Kansas State. Got it? That's it.
3. Run, Run, Run
Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith are coming off a tough couple of weeks. Randle lost two key fumbles against Iowa State and Smith has been hampered by a hand injury since Baylor. One of my biggest complaints about Bedlam last year was that we didn’t run the ball very much. I blamed Holgs for that decision so now that he's banging mountain mamas, we have got to run, run, run. We need to run the ball with authority early and often. The Sooners are a talented bunch up front and will be hard to run against. If the Cowboys can get going early, it will keep the pressure off of Weeden and force the Sooners to respect the play-action. And for the love of all things sacred, give Sims a few carries.
4. Dominate Special Teams
As we saw last year, this is the area where the Cowboys have the biggest advantage. Quinn Sharp leads the nation in average punt yards and has a knack for pinning opponents deep in their own territory. Justin Gilbert is as good as it gets in the return game. The Ryan Broyles injury hurts the Sooners on offense, but it might have an even bigger impact on special teams where he was an excellent punt returner. Field position will be key and the Cowboys should have a clear advantage. Any points they can get from the return game could be icing on the BCS cake.
Oklahoma is a big bad football program. As much as it makes me sick to my stomach, they really do play for championships. The Cowboys have not won Bedlam since 2002. The Sooners have dominated the overall series 82-16-7. But when the Cowboys take the field Saturday night, they’ve got to realize that none of that matters. What does matter is they are healthy and playing at home for the second year in a row. They've got a chance to win the conference outright and advance to a first-ever BCS Bowl. Sound familiar? The bottom line is, they've got to believe.
Oklahoma State has beaten the two teams that Oklahoma has lost to by a combined score of 125-30. There is no reason this trend cannot continue on Saturday.
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