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Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma: Preview and Prediction

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at Oklahoma

Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming Big 12 match up in our Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma preview and prediction.

Game Info

7 pm CT  | Saturday, November 30, 2019  | Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Oklahoma

TV: FOX (Joe Davis, Brock Huard and Bruce Feldman)

Local Radio Oklahoma: Sooner Sports Network (Toby Rowland, Merv Johnson, Teddy Lehman, Gabe Ikard, and Chris Plank)

Local Radio Oklahoma State: Cowboy Radio Network (Dave Hunziker, Dave Holcomb, and Robert Allen)

Opening Line: Oklahoma -13

A night game means the stars are out:

Bedlam will showcase some of the nation’s best offensive players in primetime.  It’ll be quite a show with OU’s Jalen Hurts and Ceedee Lamb, and OSU’s Chuba Hubbard all sharing the same field!  All three are considered some of if not the best players at their positions in the entire country. Hurts is a finalist for both the Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year) and the Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Year Award.  CeeDee Lamb is one of three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award which is given to the nations best wide receiver. Chuba Hubbard is one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award for the nation’s best running back and only needs 168 yards to break the 2000 yard mark for the season.  Both Hurts and Hubbard have been mentioned as possible Heisman Trophy candidates.

 

Key Players

Oklahoma

Quarterback Jalen Hurts

“They’re a triple-option team disguised as a spread,” Mike Gundy said of OU’s offense. “It’s a one man show.” And he’s not wrong. Yes, there are stud players at almost every position. Ceedee Lamb may be the best receiver in the nation, and they have three or four running backs that would be a featured weapon on most other teams in the nation.  But Hurts is what makes this version of the Lincoln Riley offense so dangerous. The previous Riley-OU offenses featured quarterbacks that COULD run, but Hurts WANTS to run. Where Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray would use their legs to extend plays or on the occasional QB draw, almost every play call for Hurts has the option for him to tuck it and go as part of the design. And he’s a good runner.  There’s a reason he’s the second leading rusher in the Big 12. He’s not the second leading rusher for a quarterback, he’s the second leading rusher period. OU would be capable of beating most teams with a more traditional player taking the snaps but Jalen Hurts takes this offense to a different level.

Linebacker Kenneth Murray

Someone has to stop Chuba Hubbard. With OSU limited on offense with QB Spencer Sanders and mid-season All American WR Tylan Wallace done for the year the nation’s leading rusher has received a heavier workload but is also basically the only serious threat the Cowboys have.  Murray is big (6 foot 2, 234 lbs) and fast! If he can contain the speedy Canadian OU will probably cruise to victory. Murray’s athleticism is unique for someone of his size which should allow him to cover Hubbard sideline to sideline, even on the screen passes that are now a part of his game.  Murray’s speed has sometimes been a weakness as well because he tends to overrun plays due to his fleet feet and the aggressiveness taught by new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch. Kansas State used this flaw to completely neutralize Murray as a factor in the run game by scheming for it, something OU will have to make sure they don’t allow the Cowboys to do as well.

Oklahoma State

Quarterback Dru Brown

When Brown transferred to Oklahoma State from Hawaii it was to be the starter.  After waiting for a year behind last year’s starter Taylor Cornelius he was once again beat out in 2019 by Spencer Sanders. Due to season ending surgery to Sanders’ thumb Brown now has his shot, and after leading OSU to victory at West Virginia he has a chance to become an OSU legend by beating Oklahoma.  His role at West Virginia was game manager, going 22 of 29 for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns. To beat the Sooners the coaches will probably have to let him loose a bit more. While he doesn’t pose the run threat that Sanders did, nor does he have the same arm strength, he is a more accurate passer and can distribute the ball a bit better.  Still, knocking off the Sooners is a tall task. Something for Brown to consider is that the last OSU team to win Bedlam was also led by a quarterback that had only started one game prior: Mason Rudolph. In 2014 Rudolph took over for the injured Daxx Garman, started and lost to Baylor the week before and then shocked OU in overtime in Norman the next week with a little help from punt returner Tyreek Hill.

Linebackers Amen Ogbongbemgia and Malcom Rodriguez

Similar to what I said about Kenneth Murray’s job above someone has to stop Hurts.  With OU you can crash a defensive end on the zone read to make the quarterback keep the ball, then if you can cover up all the receivers so there’s nowhere to throw you ball you’d think you were in a pretty good position.  Except that’s when Hurts pulls the ball down and sprints up the middle, breaking tackles and juking defensive backs for a 25 yard gain. On every play either Rodriguez or Ogbongbemgia will be tasked with not letting that happen.  Rodriguez is probably a more sound tackler but gives up a lot of size to the bigger QB. But regardless of which one draws the assignment, forcing Hurts to run and then slowing him down is the key to a defense having a shot at stopping the Sooners.

 

Key Storylines

Oklahoma

Can the Sooners play a complete game?  The last four outings this team has played really good football for about half the game while looking completely lost the other half.  This resulted in a loss at Kansas State, and while they are now 3-1 over those 4 games they could easily be 0-4. Oklahoma State is banged up offensively but they are still dangerous enough that the Sooners can’t go soft defensively and let Chuba Hubbard run wild for a half. Offensively OU has gone into a shell for parts of that 4 game stretch as well, which against a suddenly surging Cowboys defense could be a problem.  Jalen Hurts has gotten sloppy with ball in key situations the last few games and Oklahoma State has 9 takeaways in the last 3 contests. If OU plays a complete game in Bedlam they should beat OSU going away, but if the trend of the last 4 games holds true and they let the Cowboys hang around, or have to make a big comeback themselves, they could be in for another stressful ending in Stillwater.

Oklahoma State

Can the someone besides Chuba Hubbard outscore the Sooners?  Yes, there are other players left on the Cowboys offense but everything the offense does with the absence of Tylan Wallace and now Spencer Sanders is based on Hubbard.  He is option one, two, and three. The Sooners will sell out to stop him much the way West Virginia did. And while Hubbard had 194 total yards against the Mountaineers he was held to 106 yards rushing and no touchdowns. No, for OSU to get the upset Dru Brown and Dillion Stoner are going to have to take advantage of the defense’s attention to the run game and feast through the air.  The question is can they? Brown looks to be more accurate on the underneath routes that Sanders was but he doesn’t have the arm to throw it 50 yards if a receiver beats single coverage on a Hubbard play action. What Mike Gundy and first year OC Sean Gleeson chose to do offensively this game is the big mystery headed in the game.

Prediction

Oklahoma 38 Oklahoma State 28*

I actually expect this game to be fairly boring and to resemble a Big 10 game for most of the contest.  Turn your tv to black and white and you might think it’s Iowa versus Wisconsin. The Cowboys will run a lot and huddle between plays on offense, both to speed the game up to limit possessions and to give their defense a chance to rest before it has to trot out and stare down the Sooner offense again.  I feel OU will do the same, maybe not huddle but run often, especially with Hurts, which will keep the clock rolling. A lot of this will be based on what I feel the teams will chose to do defensively. OSU will mostly likely only rush 3 linemen and drop 7 into coverage with a spy on Hurts for 90% of the game hoping to force mistakes that lead to punts or turnovers.  This actually isn’t a bad plan because when you blitz a Lincoln Riley offense they make you pay for it. The Sooners will probably be slightly safe on defense as well based on OSU not having the fire power to move the ball consistently without a busted play. If they just line up and overpower the Cowboys they should stay in control, but there’s a chance if they get fancy and send a linebacker and a safety through the same gap on a 3 and 4 that Hubbard slips through the other gap with no one in the middle of the field to stop him. I do think both defensives play well.  The Sooners should be able to control a limping Cowboys squad, and the OSU defense should grab a few turnovers from a suddenly careless Hurts. Those turnovers are what keeps this game even remotely close instead of it ending up 41-21, or 44-17.

*I went with my brain on this one because all logic and knowledge points to the Sooners being a better team than the Cowboys, but my gut says otherwise on the score. My feelings wanted me to reverse that score and have OSU win by 10.  I can’t explain why. Maybe the parallels to other times OSU has won combined with the sloppy play of the Sooners lately. Maybe I just feel like the Cowboys are due to win one. But alas in the end I kowtowed to reason despite my hunches.

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