Oklahoma is looking to right the ship this week at Texas Tech after falling to 6-3 last week, thanks to a demolition at the hands of Baylor. The Sooners will be without Trevor Knight on Saturday and will start redshirt freshman Cody Thomas in his place.
There are a lot of questions about how the Sooners will respond after last week's thumping, but there is no way to provide an answer. Here's a look at how the Sooners match up with the Red Raiders.
Three questions for Oklahoma
1. Can Cody Thomas lead the Sooners to victory?
Bob Stoops and players said all week they were very comfortable with Cody Thomas as the Sooners' starting quarterback should Trevor Knight be unable to go against the Red Raiders. Now Thomas has that opportunity. Thomas hasn't had a lot of playing time this year but in his few opportunities, he's looked serviceable. Luckily for Thomas, he'll be making his first start against a defense that is just plain awful and he should be getting wide receiver Sterling Shepard back from an injury. This game is not on Thomas to win and if it comes down to that, it's because of a complete failure by the rest of the team. Thomas probably won't (and shouldn't) have to do a lot on Saturday because…
2. Will OU overthink the offensive gameplan?
The OU coaching staff needs to look at one game film to see how to plan for this game. In the third week of the year, Arkansas ran for 438 yards on 68 attempts and threw 12 passes. If the Sooners' offensive line is as good as they say they are, let them prove it on the field. Oklahoma needs to pull out a similar game plan to the one it employed against Iowa State when it ran for 510 yards in a rout over the Cyclones. If Thomas throws the ball more than 15 times, Josh Heupel is trying to be too cute and it could lead to disaster if Thomas isn't ready as a passer. There are few games where the way to beat a team is laid out so plainly. Hopefully the OU coaching staff doesn't screw it up.
3. Can the OU secondary hold up after getting shredded against Baylor?
Things may seem easy for the offense, but the defense will still have to contend with a Texas Tech passing offense that ranks ninth in the country with 320.3 yards per game through the air. Quarterback Davis Webb should be back after missing the Texas game two weeks ago with an injury. The Red Raiders have plenty of weapons on the outside as well. The receiving corps may not be as deep or as talented as the one OU faced last week in Baylor, but there is a lot of talent and speed that shouldn't be overlooked. There's no way the Sooners will sit back and allow Texas Tech to dink and dunk their way down the field like they allowed Baylor to do a week ago. Baylor embarrassed this group, so they'll be out to prove themselves this week. Whether they can do that remains to be seen.
Three key players for Texas Tech
1. QB Davis Webb- 61.2 comp. %, 2,539 yards, 24 touchdowns, 13 interceptions
Webb is the next man up in the Red Raider's pass-happy offense. He's got all the physical tools, plus a big arm, but he's been pretty erratic in his second year starting for Texas Tech. His 13 interceptions kind of offsets the 24 touchdowns he's thrown this year. Webb is coming off some injuries that prevented him from starting two weeks ago against Texas, so his health is definitely a concern for Tech.
2. RB DeAndre Washington- 141 carries, 796 yards, one touchdown
Washington has been really good this year, averaging over five yards per carry and keeping defenses from keying in on stopping the passing game. Washington is a stocky guy at 5-foot-8, 201 pounds, so he's a tough guy to bring down. He's also got pretty good speed, so the OU defensive line will have to make it a focus to keep him locked up.
3. WR Jakeem Grant- 53 receptions, 709 yards, five touchdowns
Grant is basically the wide receiver version of Roy Finch, or another Trindon Holliday. He's small, but extremely quick and elusive. He also has great hands, as shown by his team-leading 53 receptions this season. Grant will be a tough cover for any OU cornerback, but if freshman Jordan Thomas starts for Julian Wilson (broken thumb), he could be learning a lot the hard way.
Key matchup: OU offensive line vs. Texas Tech front seven
Texas Tech's run defense stinks. At 119th, it's one of the worst in the country, giving up 246.6 yards per game. The OU offensive line recently plowed through a terrible run defense at Iowa State to the tune of 510 yards. The Sooners say they're playing physical and are doing well, but the results just aren't there. Here's an opportunity for the Sooners to get a bit of confidence back by dump-trucking an awful defense. The Sooners torched Iowa State without Keith Ford, but he's back and based on how he ran against Baylor, is back to his normal self. With him, Samaje Perine and Alex Ross in the backfield, OU shouldn't have any trouble running the football. It's a red flag the size of Texas if the Sooners struggle on the ground against the Red Raiders on Saturday.
Prediction: Oklahoma 41, Texas Tech 20