#10 Oklahoma State University @ #9 Oklahoma University
It all comes down to Bedlam. To quote Mike Gundy, “I don’t think we can ask for anything else.”
Oklahoma State will take the 90-mile bus ride down I-35 to face arch-rival Oklahoma in a game for all the marbles in the Big 12. For the fourth time in the last six years, the Big 12 title will run through the state of Oklahoma. Oklahoma has won three of those, with Oklahoma State’s lone Big 12 title coming in 2011.
Last season, the Sooners took an undermanned, worn-down Oklahoma State team to the woodshed on its home turf. This season, the tables appear to have leveled. Both teams are riding high heading into this game with Oklahoma having won their last eight games, and Oklahoma State having won their last seven games.
Both teams feature talented quarterbacks, star wide receivers, and questionable defenses. This years Bedlam should be one for the ages.
When: Saturday, December 3rd, 11:30 A.M. CST
Where: Gaylord Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK.
Listen: Cowboy Radio Network
Line: Oklahoma (-12)
Get to know the Oklahoma Sooners (but only if you really, really want to):
To say the offense runs through their quarterback would simultaneously be an understatement, and a disservice to their elite backfield. Oklahoma quarterback, Baker Mayfield, leads the Big 12 in pass efficiency with a staggering 194.7 rating. That’s a full 34 points ahead of the next leader, Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph. Through 11 games, Mayfield boasts a 71.4 completion percentage on 311 attempts. He has thrown for 3,381 yards on the year, with 35 touchdowns to go along with eight interceptions.
The Sooners bring arguably the Big 12’s best quarterback to the table, but he has certainly had some help. Sooner Wide Receiver Dede Westbrook is having a Heisman-caliber year, bringing in 70 passes for 1,354 yards and 15 touchdowns. He excels in the deep passing game and brings a vertical dimension to the Sooner offense. More on that later.
The Sooners feature two of the league’s most impressive running backs in Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon. Together, the two have combined for 1,819 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns. Individually, Mixon is the more versatile back for the Sooners with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, while Perine is featured as the bruiser back. Expect to see both in this game, but don’t be surprised if you see more of Mixon, especially in the passing game.
What to watch for: Oklahoma State
Can Oklahoma State run the football?
The Cowboy rushing attack has experienced a resurgence. A resurrection, of sorts.
While the Pokes are only averaging 165 yards per game, that number doesn’t tell the whole story. Over their last three games, they have rushed for 724 yards on 109 carries for a 6.6 yards per carry average. To put that in perspective, the Cowboys were averaging just 2.9 yards per carry through their first three games, and that came against Southeastern Louisiana, Central Michigan and Pittsburgh. Their 6.6 yard per carry average has come against some generally stout run defenses in Kansas State (1st in Big 12), Texas Tech and TCU (3).
Last week against TCU, Oklahoma State ran for 334 yards on 45 carries for a 7.4 yards per carry average. Without a doubt, they turned in their best performance on the ground of the season. They’ll need a similar effort on Saturday when they face the second-ranked rush defense in the Big 12. The Sooners currently give up 155 yards per game, but that comes on less carries. They give up 4.5 yards per carry.
In my opinion, this matchup bodes well for an Oklahoma State rushing attack that is very confident right now and has found its’ footing.
How does Mason Rudolph change this year’s game?
If you’ll recall, Mason Rudolph broke his foot against Baylor last season, leaving him unavailable to play against OU. In the blowout Sooner win, QB J.W. Walsh played hard, but wasn’t able to provide enough through the air for Oklahoma State to have a shot.
This season is different. Mason Rudolph is back, and he’s playing the best football of his career. Rudolph currently boasts the highest touchdown/turnover ratio among Big 12 quarterbacks.
He should have an extra boost of confidence for this game, too. In 2014, in his second game as a true freshman, he took the Cowboys into Norman and scored a massive upset. In that game, Rudolph was masterful. With two more seasons of experience and a massive amount of talent around him, expect a similar performance from him this season on the Big 12’s biggest stage.
Screw it! Get in a shootout!
Both of these passing offenses rank in the top third of the Big 12. Oklahoma State averages 335 yards per game and Oklahoma averages 322 yards per game.
There will be points scored. It wouldn’t be a Big 12 Championship game if there weren’t. In a game that features two star wide receivers who excel in the vertical passing game, expect fireworks. Dede Westbrook currently holds the Big 12’s best yards per catch average of 19.3 yards, followed stride for stride with James Washington who averages 19.2 yards per catch.
But Oklahoma State holds a clear edge over the Sooners in one key area in this game: pass defense. The Sooners are currently ninth in the conference, just a spot ahead of what is literally the worst pass defense in America, Texas Tech.
The Oklahoma secondary is not good. In fact, it is very bad. They are giving up 287 yards per game, while Oklahoma State is giving up just 249 yards per game. If we dissect it based on a common opponent, Oklahoma State allowed just 198 yards through the air against TCU. For the Sooners, they gave up 449 yards through the air.
Just for kicks and giggles, let’s revisit that Texas Tech game... The Sooners gave up [wait for it] 734 yards passing to the nation’s top passing attack. Oklahoma State allowed just 376 yards to the same offense. Both of these teams are susceptible to big plays through the air, but one is clearly more vulnerable than the other.
Oklahoma State wins this game if ...
they limit the big play. In last year’s Bedlam, Oklahoma scored on plays of 68 yards, 66 yards, and they also had a 97 yard kickoff return that didn’t result in a touchdown.
Baker Mayfield wasn’t brilliant last year, but the Sooners’ rushing attack was. Both long touchdowns came on running plays, and that can’t happen if Oklahoma State wants to win this game.
Oklahoma State boasts a talented interior defensive line, but the defensive ends and linebackers will be tested in this game. Oklahoma State returned every linebacker from that game, and they should be prepared for what they are going to see from Mixon & Co.
Oklahoma State must exploit the glaring weakness in the Sooner secondary. With a dangerous and ridiculously deep receiving corps, the opportunity is there for OSU to turn this game into a fireworks display. Chris Lacy could potentially play a huge role in this game, especially if OU chooses to double team James Washington on the outside. OSU has to make OU pick their poison. If you’ll remember, Chris Lacy posted 108 yards and a touchdown last week. He’ll be a huge part of this game.
Oklahoma wins this game if ...
they run the ball with ease. OU’s offense is predicated on running the football to set up the play action deep pass. If Oklahoma State is able to contain the Sooner rushing attack on first and second down, they’ll force Baker Mayfield into obvious passing situations and give themselves a shot to get off the field on third down.
I think this game becomes a shootout rather quickly. If that’s the case, give me the team with the better defense: Oklahoma State. I’ll take the Cowboys to knock off the Sooners in Norman, 51-45.
I’m not kidding.
Stick with CRFF as we will be bringing you Bedlam coverage all week long.
For the next few months, we are creating #Strangewiches, unexpectedly delicious sandwiches that embody the spirit and culture of your favorite college town that you can't find on a menu anywhere! For Oklahoma State University, our friends at SB Nation and Eater helped select the best ingredients to create the BEST, and most strange, #Strangewich for your tailgate in Stillwater. Ingredients below!
Oklahoma State [Steak sandwich]: horseradish mayo + pickled tomatoes