Friday, November 28, 2008

Game of the Week: #2 Oklahoma @ #9 Oklahoma St.

OKLAHOMA ENTERS SATURDAY’S game with a five-game winning streak in the Bedlam Series and a 79-16-7 edge overall, including a 34-6-5 advantage in Stillwater. However, this one is not expected to be a day at the beach for the Sooners (10-1, 6-1), as they take on one of the most talented Cowboy (9-2, 5-2) teams in quite some time.

When the Pokes Have the Ball

OKLAHOMA ST. POSSESSES one of the most balanced offenses in all of college football and many believe they can pose even more problems for Oklahoma than the Red Raiders. Leading the way are the “four aces” – Zac Robinson, Kendall Hunter, Dez Bryant and Brandon Pettigrew. Robinson is among the top duel threat quarter-backs, equally adept at running and throwing the football. When he does let it loose, his favorite target has been Bryant, who has 80 receptions (16 touchdowns) for a Big 12 best 1,222 yards. Adding a new dimension since his return has been Pettigrew, a terrific two-way tight end. Despite a plethora of weapons through the air, the Cowboys do most of their damage on the ground led by the Big 12’s leading rusher Hunter (1,434 yards). The offensive line is experienced with two seniors and three juniors in the starting lineup.

THE SOONERS’ DEFENSE is coming off their top performance of the season. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy leads the line with his disruptive play. The sophomore stud commands a double team, if not, he will make you pay. On the outside is Jeremy Beal, who has been OU’s top pass rusher this season. Not many teams can rival the speed the Sooners possess at the linebacker position with former safeties Travis Lewis and Keenan Clayton manning the outside. They flank freshman MIKE Austin Box, who is coming off his best game. Leading the secondary is hard hitting strong safety Nic Harris.

When Boomer Sooner Has the Ball

NO ONE IS putting up better numbers than Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford. He leads the Big 12 with his 42 touchdown passes and can attack quickly or methodically. When given time he dissects defenses like a finely skilled surgeon. Bradford has almost an embarrassment of riches surrounding him beginning with dynamic sophomore tailback DeMarco Murray, who finally appears to be 100 percent healthy. The Las Vegas native is a far different player than he was earlier in the season. Complementing Murray is Chris Brown, one of the nation’s top between-the-tackles backs with the requisite toughness and vision. The duo has combined for 28 touchdowns and each has rumbled for over 100 yards in three of their last four games. The man who creates the most mismatches is junior tight end Jermaine Gresham, who is far too big for defensive backs to handle, while possessing the athleticism and speed to run away from linebackers with ease. Bradford’s favorite target this season has been senior Juaquin Iglesias, a sure-handed receiver, who excels after the catch. It all begins upfront behind the blocking of guard Duke Robinson, and tackle Phil Loadholt.

THE POKES’ DEFENSE will be put to the test on Saturday. The rush defense has been solid all year, thanks to a talented linebacking corps. Andre Sexton and Orie Lemon are one and two in tackles on the team and will look to make their presence felt on Saturday. The biggest cause for concern is their inability to put pressure on the quarterback – their 13 sacks are the fewest of any Big 12 school. That puts extra pressure on corners Jacob Lacey and Perrish Cox, something they didn’t handled well against Texas Tech.

Final Analysis

THE WAY OKLAHOMA performed against the Red Raiders last week makes it’s hard to imagine them losing in Stillwater. Their defense is finally coming together and the offense appears to get better on a weekly basis. Expect Boomer Sooner to continue their roll and make a case for being the number one team in the Big 12 South.

Prediction: Oklahoma 42, Oklahoma St. 24

Photo Credit: OU Athletics Department