Oklahoma Football: Sooners' 3 Keys to a Bedlam Win
One of the only things that are as rare as an Oklahoma State win over Oklahoma in Bedlam is the number of times the Sooners have been an underdog to the Cowboys.
Official statistics on how many times Oklahoma State has actually been favored in the rivalry couldn't be found, but you can pretty much bet that of the 16 times the Cowboys beat the Sooners it was of the upset variety.
Oklahoma has an overall record of 82-16-7 in the series after last year's thriller in Stillwater. This year is one of those rare times when the Sooners will be an underdog. The Cowboys are currently a 3.5-point favorite to win at home.
This is also one of the rare times that either team will be playing this game at home for the second consecutive year. Thanks to some Big 12 realignment and a juggling of the schedule, Oklahoma State will be playing the Sooners in Stillwater in a year in which this game is almost a must win for the Cowboys.
The 2011 edition of Bedlam football has been broken down and discussed by the media since before the season even started. On Saturday they will fight it out for a conference title. Here are the three keys to victory for the Sooners.
Sooner Defense Must Get to Brandon Weeden
An Oklahoma State fan told me that he feels good about the game so long as he doesn't see Brandon Weeden's "panic face."
Much like Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones, Weeden too is lethal when given time to throw. But, also like Jones, the Cowboys' gunslinger has also been known to throw a few interceptions this season, particularly when under pressure.
The Oklahoma defensive line has been great in the pass rush this year. The Sooners are seventh in the nation in sacks with 37. Defensive end Frank Alexander is 15th in the country with 8.5 sacks.
In this week's news conference, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Alexander would start despite re-injuring his shoulder last week against Iowa State.
Getting to Weeden might be a chore. The Cowboys have only allowed 11 sacks all season. That's good for 15th in the nation.
If Alexander and the Sooners are able to come up with a few sacks or at least pressure Weeden into making a few mistakes, it could be a good night for Oklahoma fans.
Don't Give Up the Deep Ball
In recent years, the biggest knock on the Oklahoma defense has been that the secondary tends to give up some big plays. It's not been from a lack of talent, but more from a lack of focus.
If the Sooners are to have any chance of winning in Stillwater on Saturday, they will have to keep Weeden and Justin Blackmon from making big plays in the passing game.
The good news for Oklahoma fans is that Stoops was correct during his weekly press conference when he said that the Oklahoma secondary will benefit from Weeden not being a running quarterback. That wasn't the case in Waco, Texas.
Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III had a big game and was able to torch the Oklahoma secondary with some deep balls including the game winner in the final seconds. Stoops felt like Griffin's success was mainly due to the Sooner defense trying to contain the Bears' quarterback after he picked up some big yards with his feet.
This is a problem that the Sooners won't face against Weeden. Without the threat of a running quarterback, the Oklahoma secondary will be able to focus on pass coverage.
A less mobile quarterback will also allow defensive coordinator Brent Venables to call for more blitz packages. This is something Oklahoma fans will be happy to see and will be key to getting pressure on Weeden.
The Weather Forecast
The weatherman is calling for a 100 percent chance of rain on Saturday with high winds and cold temperatures. Last week against Iowa State, Oklahoma saw just what kind of effect that type of weather can have on a game.
The Sooners and Cyclones found it tough to make plays in the passing game and had to put more of a focus on running the ball.
Bad weather in Stillwater will play into the hands of Oklahoma.
The Sooners are pretty good against the run. The Cowboys, however, are not. The biggest weakness for Oklahoma State defensively is on runs up the middle. Just ask Kansas State.
If this game takes on the look of last week's bogged down running game in Norman, the Sooners should come out on top.