It’s bedlam as the Sooners and Cowboys meet in their annual rivalry game
OU outlasted its in-state rival last season in a 62-52 pointfest that saw both teams trading explosive plays for the entire 60 minutes. The over/under for this year showdown in the Sooner State sits at 79, a fraction of the 114-point assault on the scoreboard executed by the two squads last season.
Once again, neither team is playing well on defense this year, raising the possibility of yet another marathon game. Oddsmakers are suggesting OU won’t have to sweat nearly as much this time around, though. In an up-and-down year for the Cowboys, they’d love nothing more than to hang a rare notch in the Sooners’ loss column.
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma -18
Three Things to Watch
1. Turning up the pressure
Oklahoma State presents a study in contrasts when it comes to pressuring quarterbacks. The Cowboys themselves do it well. Through nine games, they have accumulated the most sacks in the nation, 33.
OSU also has allowed nearly that many sacks, 27, this season. That ranks 112th in the country.
How the Sooners combat OSU’s pressure and get after Cowboys QB Taylor Cornelius will help determine the outcome of this game in a big way. Outside of six sacks against Baylor, Oklahoma has managed just six in five other Big 12 games.
2. Keeping Kyler Murray calm
Murray is actually one of the coolest customers you’ll find in college football this season – or any other, for that matter. He seemed out of sorts to start last week’s game at Texas Tech, however, completing two passes to the wrong team in the first quarter. Murray settled down quickly and played his typically brilliant game the rest of the way.
The Cowboys would love to pounce quickly on similar errors by OU’s star QB, so he can’t afford to start slow this week. Chances are that last game’s early blunders were just an aberration. It's also worth noting that Oklahoma State has recorded a total of five interceptions this season, tied for the second fewest in the Big 12, compared to 19 touchdown passes allowed (tied for third most).
3. The health of Oklahoma’s secondary
Five-star freshman defensive back Brendan Radley-Hiles missed OU’s game last week with a foggy injury that has left him day-to-day this week. Likewise, senior safety Kahlil Haughton was absent from the Texas Tech game with an undisclosed ailment.
A lack of depth has contributed to the shortcoming of OU’s secondary this year. If two contributors like Radley-Hiles and Haughton are missing, it puts the Sooners in a tough spot against a team that chucks it around as much as the Cowboys.
Oklahoma State appeared to have its season back on track two weeks ago after upsetting the Texas Longhorns. It only took a week to undo most of the good done in that game by melting down in a loss to the Baylor Bears. Head coach Mike Gundy’s team could be in a fragile state when it takes the field in Norman on Saturday.
Was Oklahoma’s lethargic performance last week against the Red Raiders a wake-up call, or did the Sooners offer a preview of more sloppy games to come in the last month of the season? If the last three years are a guide, OU will come out firing for the stretch run.
Although neither of these teams is a defensive dynamo, OSU has apparently sunk even lower this season than its in-state rival on that side of the ball. That will become readily apparent in back-to-back games with OU on Saturday and West Virginia a week later.
Look for Kyler Murray and the Sooners to have a field day and set an offensive pace that the Pokes can’t match.
Prediction: Oklahoma 52, Oklahoma State 37
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.