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Saturday, November 24, 3:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Frank Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 107th meeting in the Bedlam Series takes place in Norman this Saturday, as the 22nd-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys tangle with the 14th- ranked Oklahoma Sooners.
Oklahoma has dominated the series against its intrastate rival, sporting an 82-17-7 advantage as it looks for its ninth win in the last 10 meetings.
Oklahoma State is 7-3 overall and 5-2 in Big 12 Conference action, and the Cowboys have won two-in-a-row and five of their last six games. The team's most recent triumph took place at home last Saturday against No. 23 Texas Tech, and the Pokes had little trouble with the Red Raiders in what turned out to be a 59-21 final. OSU still has one more game after this one, as it will play at Baylor next week.
Oklahoma is a game ahead of its counterpart, logging an 8-2 record on the year and a 6-1 mark in conference. The team survived last week at West Virginia, topping the Mountaineers in a wild 50-49 final. The Sooners are still in the hunt for the Big 12 title, as they are currently a half game back of Kansas State for first place. Should the two finish with identical league ledgers, the Wildcats would win the conference crown thanks to their 24-19 win over Oklahoma back on Sept. 22.
As has become customary under current head coach Mike Gundy, the Oklahoma State offense can light it up with the best of them, as it averages 45.4 ppg to rank first in the conference. The Cowboys use potent attacks both rushing (216.7 ypg, 27 TDs) and passing (337.0 ypg, 26 TDs) to batter foes into submission. Joseph Randle is over 1,000 rushing yards for the season (1,099) and he has scored 10 TDs, while the passing game has seen three different signal-callers take snaps, with Clint Chelf (.609 completion percentage, 805 yards, nine TDs, three interceptions) being the current starter. Regardless of who throws him the ball, Josh Stewart is a threat to make things happen as is evidenced by his 857 yards and five TDs on 73 catches, which is 44 more than his closest teammate.
The OSU defense has stood tall for the most this season, permitting an average of 26.1 ppg in doing a solid job against the run in particular (126.2 ypg). The effort against the pass yields 262.0 ypg, but that's due to the fact that most opponents have had to abandon to the run in an attempt to get back in contention. Instead of possessing one or two true stars, the Pokes rely more on balance from all three levels of the defense as no player has more than the 58 tackles Alex Elkins has. The Cowboys have generated just 13 turnovers on the year.
Chelf, making just his second career start last week against Texas Tech, threw for 229 yards on only 11 completions, hitting Isaiah Anderson four times for a whopping 174 yards and three TDs. Randle tallied 91 yards and a score on 17 totes, and even J.W. Walsh, OSU's starter at QB in the first several games before suffering what at the time was thought to be a season-ending knee injury, came on to throw a TD pass and run for another in limited duty.
As for the Oklahoma State defense, the thought was the unit was going to be in for a long day against a potent Red Raiders offense, but the Cowboys stood their ground in allowing just 21 points and 383 total yards. The unit was credited with three turnovers and three sacks, and Ryan Simmons led the way with seven solo stops, three of which were for negative yardage.
Coach Gundy and his staff have an awful lot to do with how well the team is performing, but he is quick to deflect any attention back to his players.
"The attitude and the chemistry of this team is what allows them to have success. It's important to them. They've created an identity for themselves. They understand that they aren't selfish football players, which helps them do a nice job for themselves. As a coaching staff, we're very proud of the guys."
Oklahoma is scoring 40.8 ppg on the strength of 503.2 total ypg. QB Landry Jones is among the Big 12's passing leaders with 324.5 ypg, and he has tossed 24 TD passes against only eight interceptions. Kenny Stills continues to pace the receiving corps with 64 grabs for 773 yards and 10 scores, while Damien Williams heads the rushing attack with 779 yards and 10 TDs of his own. The OU offensive line has allowed just 13 sacks this season.
Defensively, the Sooners are yielding 22.5 ppg, and their opponents have found it much easier to run the ball (185.3 ypg, 17 TDs allowed) than throw it (185.2 ypg, seven TDs allowed). Tony Jefferson is the team's leading tackler with 91 stops, while Javon Harris has 62 stops and five picks. The Sooners have come up with only two fumble recoveries, and they average just 4.3 TLF per game.
Oklahoma scored the first and last points of last week's game at West Virginia, amassing 662 yards of total offense. Jones himself accounted for 554 yards and six TDs in completing 38-of-51 pass attempts with only one interception. He did not take a sack, despite dropping back as often as he did. Stills finished with 10 catches for 91 yards and four scores, while Jalen Saunders turned seven grabs into 123 yards and a score, and Justin Brown had six receptions for 112 yards. Other notable receivers included Williams (six rec., 71 yards) and Sterling Shepard (four rec., 97 yards). Williams added 92 yards and a TD on 22 carries.
It's a good thing Jones was in rare form last week, as the Oklahoma defense was absolutely shredded to the tune of 778 yards, 344 of which were credited to the Mountaineers' Tavon Austin, who averaged 16.4 ypc and scored a pair of rushing TDs. The Sooners also allowed West Virginia QB Geno Smith to throw for 320 yards and four TDs. Jefferson logged a dozen stops on the day, and both Harris and Aaron Colvin had interceptions.
Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops gave West Virginia credit, but at the same time expressed dismay over the play of his defense.
"I appreciate the players' efforts. They played hard. West Virginia played hard. I'm obviously disappointed in our defense. We haven't been in a lot of shootouts. Give them credit for some execution. We deserve some of the criticism for not playing as well, but again, they're a good team -- an explosive team."
This should be another classic matchup between two teams that not only don't like each other, but that have plenty on the line as they jockey for the best possible postseason position. A slight edge goes to the Sooners at home, but don't expect the Cowboys to be intimidated.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma 45, Oklahoma State 41
11/21 10:57:31 ET
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