It will truly be Bedlam this week when the Big 12 regular season concludes with the Oklahoma Sooners visiting the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Sooners need a win to keep their hopes of winning a seventh straight Big 12 title alive while the Cowboys still have hope of getting into the College Football Playoff. The Sooners have been the dominant team in this rivalry, winning six in a row against the Cowboys and 16 of the last 18 meetings. But things are a little different this year with the Cowboys favored by 3.5 points at home with an over/under of just 50.5 points. CLICK TO SEE LIVE ODDS.
The Cowboys are 10-1 on the season and know that they will play in the Big 12 Championship Game next week. However, with a win against Oklahoma and a win in the Big 12 title game, Oklahoma State will have a strong argument for the CFP. The Cowboys also know that a loss to Oklahoma this week would mean having to play the Sooners again in the conference title game next week, so there should be no lack of motivation for OSU.
Ironically, Oklahoma State has reached 10-1 this season despite one of the worst offensive teams during Mike Gundy’s tenure. To be fair, the Cowboys aren’t terrible offensively, but they aren’t running circles around opposing defenses either, averaging a modest 31.4 points per game. The OSU offense is based around running the ball behind Jaylen Warren and quarterback Spencer Sanders. Warren has already topped 1,000 rushing yards on the season while Sanders is dangerous with his legs. The caveat is that Sanders has not shown much improvement as a passer from past seasons. His completion percentage is down from the last two years, although he’s only thrown one interception in his last five games, which is a step in the right direction.
Meanwhile, it’s been the Oklahoma State defense that’s taken ownership over the team. The Cowboys are fresh off a shutout of a Texas Tech team that’s averaging over 30 points per game. They’ve also allowed just 23 points over their last four games. Even the top teams in the Big 12 have struggled to do much against Oklahoma State, as no team has scored more than 24 points against them this year, ranking them third nationally in points allowed. While the Cowboys haven’t created a ton of takeaways this year, they are averaging close to four sacks per game, which has allowed them to hold onto the lead once they get one.
This is far from the Oklahoma team we expected to see before the season. Yet, the Sooners have just one loss on the season and still have a chance to win the Big 12 and reach the CFP. Of course, they’re going to need to win this week or hope for a Baylor loss in order to get to the Big 12 Championship Game next week. They’ll also have to beat Oklahoma State in back-to-back weeks to have any chance at the CFP.
Offensively, the Sooners have had a crisis of faith lately. Caleb Williams took over at quarterback for Spencer Rattler in the middle of the season, but Williams endured his worst game of the season last week, throwing for just 87 yards in the win over Iowa State. One can’t help but wonder if Rattler could replace Williams this week if the freshman continues to struggle. The good news is that the Oklahoma rushing attack helped to pick up the slack last week. Kennedy Brooks is gaining six yards per carry this season with Eric Gray helping as well. But it’ll take a balanced attack for the Sooners to move the ball against the OSU defense.
As for the Oklahoma defense, the Sooners have been a little better than expected on that side of the ball, which is why they’ve made it to 10-1. They’ve kept five of their 11 opponents to 21 points or less, giving up an average of just 24.2 points per game. Of course, there were a few games in the middle of the season when they were ripped apart both on the ground and through the air, creating some concerns about the OU defense. But the Sooners have been able to bend a little without breaking in most of their games this year while also coming up with takeaways at the right time.
On paper, Oklahoma State appears to have the more balanced and well-rounded team in this game. However, the history of this rivalry favors the Sooners, who also have two quarterbacks who are capable of playing at a much higher level than OSU’s quarterback. With the Oklahoma State offense being a little limited in the passing game, the Cowboys will have a hard time creating separation in this game. That will leave the door open for either Williams or Rattler to step up and prove that the Sooners are still the best team in the state.
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