Missouri vs. Oklahoma Week 4: 5 Reasons Sooners Aren't in Danger of Being Upset
After Oklahoma escaped from Tallahassee with an exciting victory over No. 5 Florida State, they have a week to recuperate and get ready for a hungry Missouri team.
Missouri is coming off a big win themselves. However, their big win came against a now 1-2 FCS team, Western Illinois. So while QB James Franklin and RB Henry Josey looked stellar, and their defense only allowed one first down the entire game, a lot has to be taken with a grain of salt.
There is a reason that Oklahoma is the top-ranked team in the country. Beating Florida State was officially the biggest road win this season...for any team. In Missouri's one trip away from home this season, they fell short to a solid Arizona State team.
Let's just say that Oklahoma is going to be a whole different animal than Arizona State.
Here are five reasons why the Sooners aren't in danger of being upset this weekend.
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There's no doubt that Oklahoma's Heisman Trophy-hopeful quarterback looked shaky on Saturday against Florida State, but he did step up and make big throws with the game on the line.
That's more than Sooners fans have normally been able to say about Landry Jones, who is notorious for playing below his potential on the road. Watching Jones on Saturday was equivalent to watching a teenager taking a driving test.
There were some cringe-worthy moments, and he may have run into a few cones, but once he got his rhythm, he was able to grow up before our eyes.
This week, there will be no worrying about whether Jones will "show up" for the game or not. Jones is ridiculous at home. In Week 1 against Tulsa, Jones only threw one touchdown, but that was mostly due to RB Dominique Whaley running all over the field. His other stats were great: 35-of-47 for 375 yards and zero interceptions.
Last season was no different. Here are Jones' stats at home during the 2010 season:
215-of-315 for 2,620 yards, 24 touchdowns and only three interceptions.
Now let's compare those numbers with Jones' stats on the road during the 2010 season:
190-of-302 for 2,098 yards, 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions.
While these numbers still aren't terrible, there is a noticeable difference between the two. Like most players, Jones just feels more comfortable at home. That's normal. His stats, on the other hand, are far from "normal."
He's a machine at home, and Missouri, who gave up 353 yards passing to the only decent quarterback they have faced this season (Brock Osweiler), will need to step up in a big way to stop him.
James Franklin Is Not EJ Manuel
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This will be the second week in a row that Oklahoma has faced a dual-threat quarterback. The only difference is that Missouri's James Franklin is not on the same level as FSU quarterback EJ Manuel.
Franklin has certainly posted good numbers so far this season, which are highlighted by his Week 2 performance at Arizona State: 26-of-42 for 319 yards and two touchdowns; 27 rushes for 84 yards and one touchdown.
This is his season: Franklin looked shaky in Week 1 against a decent Miami (OH) team, good against a solid Arizona State team, and great against a godawful FCS Western Illinois team.
Will he keep improving this year? Absolutely he will, but not against Oklahoma.
This will be Franklin's first real test as a starting quarterback. It could be argued that on the road at Arizona State was a "real test", and the Tigers fell just short to a good team. However, Arizona State proved that they were maybe not as good as expected after they lost to an unranked Illinois team on Saturday.
Oklahoma was ready for EJ Manuel on Saturday, and Manuel finished 13-of-19 for just 85 yards and two interceptions. Manuel did show some success on the ground, running the ball eight times for 49 yards. But when all was said and done, Oklahoma gave up just 27 yards rushing on 26 attempts.
Oklahoma was certainly prepared for Manuel, and that showed when FSU backup QB Clint Trickett came into the game and threw for 134 yards in a little over a quarter. Granted, a lot of those yards came off of busted coverage in the OU secondary, which is a problem that gave Tulsa the opportunity to score two times in the season opener.
Franklin will have to do a lot of maturing in this game and not make any mistakes in order to give his team a chance to win.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, that doesn't seem too likely.
Defense, Defense, Defense
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Like I mentioned in the last slide, Oklahoma's defense looked solid against Florida State on Saturday, giving up only 27 yards rushing and 219 yards through the air.
For Florida State, 246 total yards was less than half of what they had been averaging this season. Was FSU's offense a little overrated? Probably, but that's what you get when you essentially play two JV teams before stepping up to a team like Oklahoma.
But on the road at Florida State, 246 total yards is a huge accomplishment. The Sooners defense got some extra help on Saturday when All-American linebacker Travis Lewis came back early from a toe injury. Lewis started the game and finished with nine tackles.
Lewis, who wasn't expected back until Week 6 against Texas, is the leader of the Sooners defense. Lewis being healthy is bad news for a Missouri squad who will have to establish a decent running game in order to open up passing lanes for Franklin.
The Sooners knew that the key to stopping Florida State's offense was keeping EJ Manuel in check. Much will be the same this week against Missouri. Until RB Henry Josey's breakout performance against FCS Western Illinois, Franklin had been the only source of offense for the Tigers.
Missouri had more than solid defensive performances against Western Illinois and Miami (OH), but gave up almost 500 total yards of offense against Arizona State. Oklahoma is averaging 486.5 total yards per game. Missouri will have a lot to handle.
Experience and Depth
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Something that the Sooners have that many other teams in the country don't is experience and depth. The only question mark on the Sooners offense going into the season was the running back committee.
They didn't have too much experience, but that didn't mean they weren't deep at the position. Week 1 proved that, as the Sooners were able to use four different running backs throughout the game.
That number went down to two (Dominique Whaley, Brennan Clay) during their Week 2 game against Florida State, but they were still able to provide a spark against a really good defense.
The Sooners were able to showcase their depth on defense in Week 1, as well. While Travis Lewis was out with an injury, sophomore linebacker Corey Nelson was able to step in and play admirably in his place.
Most of this squad has been playing together for a few years, and it all starts with junior QB Landry Jones. Jones' experience will play a huge factor in most of Oklahoma's games this season, especially late in the season when the Sooners travel to Stillwater to take on Oklahoma State.
In this game, however, it's Jones against Franklin, a sophomore quarterback who hasn't played against a top-notch team.
Give me Jones and the Sooners any day of the week.
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Anytime an opponent comes to Norman, the thought of playing at Gaylord Memorial Stadium has to be a little intimidating.
The Sooners are current owners of the nation's longest home winning streak at 37 games. In the Bob Stoops era (1999-present), the Sooners are 78-2 at home. Every home game that Bob Stoops has coached in has been a sell out.
There's certainly an electric atmosphere in Norman, but it's far from one of the toughest places to play based solely on the crowd's involvement.
So why are the Sooners so good at home? Who knows, but they are.
And there's no doubt that Missouri is aware of this.