Bedlam Football: Breaking Down The Sooners And Cowboys
NORMAN, Oklahoma - Just because Bedlam isn't a matchup of top-10 teams doesn't mean craziness couldn't ensue once again.
When the Sooners and Cowboys tangle in Norman on Saturday, they'll be looking for two different things. Oklahoma State would like to go to a bowl game this year, but needs a win in order to do that. The Sooners are looking to finish off a disappointing year by sending OSU home for good and set themselves up for a possible Alamo Bowl bid.
Either way, Bedlam has the potential to be crazy once again, as two freshmen quarterbacks will be starting. Who knows what will happen this year?
Three questions for Oklahoma
1. Can Oklahoma rattle Mason Rudolph?
Rudolph made his first career start two weeks ago against Baylor, burning his redshirt in the process. He looked confident and made some really nice throws, but had plenty of true freshman moments as well. Either way, the future of the OSU quarterback position is in good hands. Rudolph has had two weeks to prepare for the OU defense, but the Sooners have had the same amount of time to prepare for him. The OSU offensive line has been abysmal this year and the Sooners will be chomping at the bit to get after an unstable line and an inexperienced quarterback. Expect Eric Striker to have a field day.
2. Is Oklahoma's run game production sustainable?
Oklahoma has run for 510, 384 and 510 yards in three of the last four games. That's a really impressive clip, but is it sustainable? If the Sooners roll up 510 yards against the Cowboys, it would be a really impressive performance, but having proportional success against OSU wouldn't be a surprise. The Sooners are really hitting their stride in the run game and have all the confidence in the world in their ability to push defenders around and open up massive lanes for running backs. If the Sooners run the ball close to what they have been in the last month, it could be a long day for the Cowboys.
3. How will Cody Thomas look?
Thomas hasn't had to throw the ball much in his two starts for OU. Against Texas Tech, Thomas threw 20 passes, but was picked off on three of those and threw just three passes in the second half. Against Kansas, the rain and Samaje Perine's big day made throwing the ball unnecessary. Thomas has been in control of the Sooners for almost a month now, so his confidence has probably grown over the past couple weeks, but has his game? The Sooners will need to hit some passes to keep OSU from loading the box and stopping the run. Obviously, that falls on the shoulders of Thomas, who could be playing for the starting job next season as well.
Three key players for Oklahoma State
1. QB Mason Rudolph- 13-of-25, 281 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions
Rudolph is undoubtedly the future of the OSU offense and looked pretty good in his first career start against Baylor. But no offense to Baylor fans, playing at Oklahoma in a rivalry game is a whole different animal. He has the arm and the size to be a good college quarterback but starting in Bedlam is a tough ask for any freshman, especially one making his second start.
2. RB Tyreek Hill- 1,625 all-purpose yards, four touchdowns
Hill's speed was the talk of the conference before the season and the hype was justified. But Hill's value on offense hasn't been fully realized for a number of reasons. First, he's a speed guy, not a power runner or between the tackles guy. He has great hands but the Cowboys' quarterback issues prevented him from being a breakout wide receiver. The fact he's mainly on the field for his speed didn't help. He's still extremely dangerous and the Sooners have to keep track of him.
3. DE Emmanuel Ogbah- 42 tackles, 11 sacks, 16.5 TFLs
Ogbah has been a monster on the OSU defensive line this year. Overall, he's probably been the Cowboy's best and most consistent player this season. His numbers are impressive, but his impact on opposing offenses goes beyond those. The Oklahoma tackles are really good, but they'll have their work cut out for them with Ogbah.
Key Matchup: OU offensive line vs. OSU front seven
The Cowboys are going to try to do everything to stop the OU ground game and force Cody Thomas to beat them through the air. The Oklahoma offensive line has been plowing through opponents like they aren't even there lately, but the Cowboys are a much better unit than Iowa State, Texas Tech or Kansas. Don't expect 500 yards on the ground. But if the Sooners are able to get a consistent ground game going, Oklahoma should be able to control the game and get the win. But without a run game, things could get very interesting.
Prediction: Oklahoma 30, OSU 17