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Cowboy Football: Previewing Bedlam From OSU's Perspective

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Bedlam is here and the stakes are about as high as they can be for the Cowboys.

The intense rivalry already puts this game on a different level but, should Oklahoma State prevail, it would mark the Pokes' second Big 12 title in three seasons and a Fiesta Bowl bid. Suffice to say, motivation and focus should be no issue for the red-hot Cowboys, who are riding a seven-game winning streak into Saturday's 11 a.m. tilt in Stillwater.

Here is a breakdown of what to watch for from the Cowboys' perspective when No. 6 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) and No. 17 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2) collide at Boone Pickens Stadium:


Three Keys For The Cowboys

1. Clint Chelf Stays Hot

Not only has Clint Chelf improved over time since regaining the starting gig, he also just so happened to post the top quarterback rating in all of college football for the month of November. In the Cowboys' past two wins – 38-13 at Texas and 49-17 vs. Baylor – Chelf has thrown for 567 yards with a 74.5 percent completion percentage with 10 total touchdowns. The choo choo train is running at maximum efficiency entering Bedlam.

Chelf can beat a team with his arm or his legs and it will be up to the Cowboy coaching staff for how best to utilize him against the Sooners, who rank 24th nationally in run defense and 20th in pass efficiency defense. The weather could lean the coaches to a heavier reliance on the ground but maybe that's exactly what they want OU to expect.

Regardless, faith in Chelf has never been higher and his play will have a massive impact on how this game unfolds.

2. Bottle Up The Sooner Ground Game

Oklahoma loves to run, ranking 15th in the FBS with 242.3 yards per game, and is at its best when it gets the ground game rolling. However, Oklahoma State just so happens to feature the league's top run defense and ranks 21st in the country, allowing just 130 yards per game on the ground.

The run defense has been even better lately, holding run-oriented Texas to just 151 yards and limiting Baylor to just 95 on 2.6 yards per attempt.

That said, OSU hasn't been fantastic again running QBs, which Trevor Knight most certainly is. The most glaring example being the 118 rushing yards and a TD the Cowboys allowed to Kansas State quarterback Daniel Samms.

Look for Oklahoma State to focus on shutting down Brennan Clay and Roy Finch with a spy following Knight to take his legs out of the equation, forcing him to pass in just his fourth career start in terrible conditions on the road.

Knight is coming off his best game after completing 14-of-20 passes for 171 yards with a touchdown and a pick in a win at Kansas State, but the redshirt freshman has just 443 yards with five touchdowns and four picks on 53 percent passing this year and will be playing against a dynamic, ball-hawking OSU secondary that has snagged 19 interceptions so far. It's in the Cowboys' best interest to force OU to air it out and expect them to attempt just that.

3. Win In The Trenches

This was a widely overlooked factor in Oklahoma State's blowout upset against Baylor. The Cowboys controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, proving to be bigger, stronger and deeper on offense and defense.

This is particularly advantageous for the OSU offensive line against a thin, injury-plagued OU defensive front. The Cowboys have improved dramatically in run blocking since the offensive staff shuffled some personnel midseason and rank 10th nationally in sacks allowed with just 10 on the season.

OU's starting line of Charles Tapper, Jordan Wade and Chuka Ndulue is athletic and dependable but the loss of Jordan Phillips on the line and injuries to linebackers Jordan Evans and Corey Nelson has hurt the depth and versatility of the unit, which could be bad news for OU in brutal conditions. The Sooners have been good against the run for the most part, but gave up 255 yards in each of their losses this season.

The battle between OSU's defensive line and the Sooners' O-line will be a toss up. OU has a veteran-laden group and has more athleticism than the average offensive front, but the Pokes have been exceptional on the defensive line, highlighted by the dynamic duo of James Castleman and Calvin Barnett. Add in the consistent depth offered by Ofa Hautau in the middle and a deep, athletic rotation at defensive end, and the Pokes can throw plenty of bodies and looks at the Sooners to wear them down, allowing the elite linebacking corps to roam freely. OSU accomplished this against Baylor and, should they do it again, this game could get out of hand.

RELATED: Previewing Bedlam From OU's Perspective


• If OSU wins on Saturday, it would mark the Cowboys' 10th-straight victory at home, which would tie the all-time record in Stillwater set from Sept. 21, 2002 – Oct. 18, 2003. It would also improve the Pokes to 18-1 in their last 19 home games.

• A win would also mark a 6-0 record at home in 2013, making it just the 12th unbeaten home record in school history.

• A win over the Sooners would give OSU eight conference victories for the season, matching the school record set in 2011. It would also give OSU 11 victories for the third time in four years.

• Oklahoma's two losses this season have come by a whopping 77-32 margin against Baylor and Texas. OSU's two most recent victories are against the same two teams by a score of 87-30.

• It's not just Bedlam, it's also senior day in Stillwater. This current crop of Cowboy seniors enters with a 41-9 career record, tying for the most all time with the 2011 class. A win against OU would move this year's seniors into first place in OSU history.

• Oklahoma State has scored at least 20 points in 50-straight games, which is the longest streak in the country. It's also the second-longest streak since the FCS/FBS split in 1978, behind on USC's 63-game run from 2002 until 2006.

• OSU has only won seven Bedlam games ever in Stillwater.

• The Cowboys' 4-0 record last month marked OSU's first perfect run through the month of November since 1945.

• Justin Gilbert needs just one more kickoff return touchdown to set the NCAA record. He currently leads all active players with six and is the all-time leader in the Big 12. A seventh would tie him with former Clemson star C.J. Spiller and Houston's Tyron Carrier atop the all-time list.

• Oklahoma State has scored seven non-offensive touchdowns this season and 25 since 2010. Four of those scores this season have come from the defense, including two each on interception and fumble returns.

RELATED: OSU Out To Prove 2011 Was Just The Beginning



This matchup favors the Cowboys in almost every way except for in the history books. Oklahoma State needs to approach this game mentally like it did in 2011 and go out looking for blood, not just a win. If Chelf can get the passing game rolling early and strike for a couple big plays to swing the momentum in OSU's favor, it could lead to a very long day for the visiting Sooners. OSU's defense is likely the best the Sooners have seen and an early lead from the Pokes would prove difficult to overcome.

Final: Oklahoma State 31, Oklahoma 17

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