Big 12 Sports Articles

Why the Sooners are poised to pull off Bedlam

The Oklahoma Sooners lead Oklahoma State in the Bedlam series, 84-18-7. The word ‘rivalry’ is used loosely in this situation. But, the Cowboys have won the game twice since Oklahoma State Head Coach Mike Gundy over in Stillwater in 2005, and have kept many others close contests, with 4 of his 8 losses to OU by single digits. Under Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops, the tenured coach is 12-4 against the Pokes. But regardless of which team wins the interstate emotional showdown, Oklahoma State seems to be playing the spoiler for the Sooners playoff aspirations.

Although last season was a loss for the Sooners in Norman, it did not kill any kind of playoff aspirations as much as just their confidence on the field. The Sooners lost in OT after the Cowboys scored 14 unanswered points. Oklahoma senior K Michael Hunnicutt missed a field goal to seal the Sooners’ fate in Norman, giving the Cowboys a one-up and Oklahoma State completed a field goal attempt to win, 38-35.

In seasons past, Oklahoma State has been a dream ruiner for the Sooners like 2001. In 01’ the Sooners were close to another national championship game, but the Cowboys powered through to win 16-13. Again in 2004, Oklahoma State was close to putting an end to the Sooners national title goal. Oklahoma was ranked no. 2, while Oklahoma State was ranked no. 20, but it didn’t matter on the field. Oklahoma State snuck up on the Sooners and Oklahoma squeaked by, 38-35. But 2015 is starting look a lot like 2008 for the Bedlam Rivalry. The Sooners were no. 3 and the Cowboys were no. 12. QB Sam Bradford and RB DeMarco Murray were leading the Sooners and QB Zac Robinson and WR Dez Bryant were leading the Cowboys. Many are now big names in the NFL, but in the Big 12 the four commanded the same high-profile attention.

The Sooners trailed Oklahoma State in the first quarter with three minutes left, but Oklahoma maintained a fast paced offense, scoring 40 points in the second half and rolling to a 61-41 victory. On Saturday, the Oklahoma teams might see a replay of 2008. The Cowboys are rocking sophomore QB Mason Rudolph and WR Jason Washington, a similar set-up from 2008. While the Sooners are led by junior QB Baker Mayfield, RB Samaje Perine and senior WR Sterling Shepard. The teams are dual threats as well, packing explosive offenses and strong defenses. When it comes down to it, the Sooner defense has made more of an appearance throughout the season. The Sooners sophomore safety Steven Parker tipped the final two-point conversion attempt by TCU to secure the win. And players like defensive end Charles Tapper and linebacker Eric Striker have been too focused to let this game slip through.

The only thing hanging over the Sooners is the possibility that Mayfield is not ready to play to his best, as he suffered a concussion in the second quarter of the TCU game. Oklahoma State has been able to boast two powerful QB’s in Rudolph and QB J.W. Walsh. If Oklahoma needs to pull Mayfield, neither junior QB Trevor Knight or sophomore QB Cody Thomas are able to handle the pressure against the Cowboys.

Knight proved that last weekend in Norman with a pathetic performance against the Horned Frogs, passing with a 31 percent success rate and one interception. Although Thomas has not seen much playing time this season, he could not stand the Cowboy heat last season even when Oklahoma State was not nearly as good as they are this season. It is up for the Sooner big three of Mayfield, Perine and Shepard as well as the key defensive players in Striker, CB Zack Sanchez, Tapper as well as new faces in CB Jordan Thomas and CB Dakota Austin.

While a lot of the credit goes to the players, the reality is Sooners fans need to start chanting “in Riley we trust!”, because new OC Lincoln Riley is calling all the right shots with his spread attack that is balancing Mayfield and Shepard’s talents with the strong running game of Perine and Mixon. Ultimately, this will be the difference in the game. Oklahoma State’s running game has been hit-or-miss all season long, while OU has kept the ultimate balance of run/pass, putting up at least 30 points per game since the loss to Texas.

While Saturday’s game might not quite reach the 102-total point mark of 2008, it will be a shootout, with the Sooners hanging on and punching their ticket to the CFB Playoff. Boomer!

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