Everyone knows OU is dominant at home. Their record at Owen Field with Bob Stoops at the helm is 71-2. They own the nation’s longest home winning streak at 35.
Unfortunately, none of that matters because this game is being played down in College Station, Texas.
Kyle Field is one of those places that you love, hate or appreciate. Every time I see a list of top stadiums, it lands in the top 20. Looking in the stands with everyone swaying together is like looking through a big kaleidoscope of maroon and white.
So, why is it that OU can dominate at home but have trouble on the road, in particular at Kyle Field? Is it the 12th man? Is it the bonfire smoke left over from the night before? Maybe it’s the 86,000-plus fans going nuts. My money is on the smoke.
Recently, the OU-Texas A&M series has been a tale of two cities. Over the last decade, when the game is played in Norman, the Sooners have outscored the Aggies 302-70. On the other hand, when the game is played in College Station, the margin narrows with OU on top 186-140.
Excluding the 2008 shellacking OU handed out, the games in Texas are tight. The Sooners have lost one, while the three wins have all come by seven points or less.
An interesting side note is that statistically, the Aggies look better than the Sooners. They rank higher in total yards gained and total defense. However, even with the Missouri breakdown, OU still holds the advantage in turnover margin. Barring the same case of butterfingers, OU should find itself playing catch with the Aggies' new quarterback a couple times and stay in the top 10 in turnover margin.
Numbers aside, you can expect to see two teams with a lot on the line. For OU, it’s a simple formula of win out, beat Nebraska one last time and redeem yourself in a BCS bowl game.
For A&M, it’s a matter of pride and becoming bowl eligible. Sitting at five wins with OU, Baylor, Nebraska and Texas as your final games, becoming bowl eligible is going to be tough. A victory on Saturday would go a long way towards accomplishing that goal.
Players to watch
For Texas A&M, it has to be their new quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who threw for a school-record 449 yards last week against Texas Tech. Being at home should help him with nerves, but picking apart Kansas and Texas Tech is different than playing the Sooners.
On the flip side, watch out for Brent Venables. Yeah, yeah, I know he isn’t actually on the field, but he dials up the defense. There is little doubt OU will put some points on the board. What remains to be seen is whether the Sooners can pick on the two freshman tackles and new quarterback for the Aggies.
Additionally, if Ryan Broyles, Roy Finch and DeMarco Murray can all get loose on the linebackers, OU should be in for a good day. I’ll take my chances with Finch and Murray against any linebacker in the country.
The question is simple: Can the Sooners come off a convincing win at home and play above average on the road? It probably won’t take OU’s best game to come out with a victory, but if they turn the ball over three times in the red zone again, this game could be tough to watch for Sooner fans.
The last 10 years saw OU struggle in College Station. Thank goodness it’s a new decade.