A season ago, Ohio State came to Norman, Okla., and dominated the Sooners in the 45-24 victory.
There was little doubt who the better team was. There was a lot of doubt about how Oklahoma would respond. Well, Ohio State went on to the playoff, the Sooners rallied and finished the season on a 10-game winning streak.
But there’s something really odd about this year’s game against the Buckeyes: Like, why is Ohio State barely a touchdown favorite? That might be the hardest question to answer.
Now, we all know it’s not allowed for coaches and players to talk about the Vegas lines, but in a world where Baker Mayfield is looking for that next chip to put on top of that other chip that sits on another chip on his shoulder, (1) Mayfield probably doesn’t care anything about a point spread, but he loves being the underdog. It fuels his intensity.
There’s one prediction you know is true heading into Saturday’s game at Ohio State. And here are 20 more sure to happen, too:
Well, a week ago Mayfield played just a half, (2) Saturday, Mayfield will make it into the fourth quarter because this game isn’t quite like playing against UTEP. 56-7. It’ll be much closer. (3) And it won’t be anything like last season when Ohio State dominated from the beginning. (4) No team will lead this one by more than 10 points.
Oklahoma has won 11 in a row on the road, including a win two seasons ago at Tennessee when we saw Mayfield at his best in the second half. Of course, we saw Mayfield at his near-worst a season ago in losses to Houston and then again at home when he struggled against Ohio State. We’ll see both in the first half Saturday. (5). Mayfield will have at least one touchdown in the first quarter and also (6) have at least one turnover, too.
A week ago, Mayfield threw completions to 14 receivers. (7) He won’t get to half of that against tOSU, but (8) Kyler Murray will either throw or catch a pass in the first half. Yes, Murray. And yes, when he comes into the game in the first half, you’ll be thinking (9) new Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley has a bit of that Big-Game Bob mentality. (10) OU will run a trick play – with success.
The running game? Probably won’t be much of a success for the Sooners. After all, the Buckeyes have the best defensive line in the country and the Oklahoma rushers aren’t particularly established. (11) OU will have at least three runners get touches in the first quarter. (12) One will fumble.
Of course that matters, but it won’t be the determining factor in the game. The Oklahoma defense will be. Yes, that defense – the one that essentially kept the Sooners out of the playoff last season. The same defense that couldn’t keep receiver Noah Brown from Ohio State from scoring four touchdowns last season. Too easy to say no one from tOSU will score four touchdowns, but it also makes sense to say Ohio State freshman J.K. Dobbins won’t be quite as successful as he was a week ago when he went for 180 yards rushing against Indiana. (13) Dobbins will also fumble in the first half and (14) finish with less than 100 yards on the ground.
Oklahoma hasn’t lost in 51 weeks, has won 11 in a row, dating back to last season and has won 11 road games in a row, too. Safe to assume none of the opponents OU has played during the 11-game win streak are as good as Ohio State, but it’s also safe to assume (15) Mark Andrews will be the best player on the field Saturday night. Andrews had seven catches and 134 yards last week against UTEP and now has 15 touchdowns for his career. (16) He’ll score two more against the Buckeyes.
And still, (17) this game will come down to a field goal, as if if every Sooner fan hasn’t been thinking about the great escape in Columbus, back in ’77 when the Sooners’ Uwe Von Schamann kicked through a 41-yard field goal with 3 seconds to play for a 29-28 win. Austin Seibert isn’t quite the kicker Von Schamann was, but Seibert has made 29-of-39 attempts for his career. (18) He’ll make a 40-plus yards in the fourth quarter.
Ohio State is coming off a playoff season, a win against Oklahoma and has only lost twice at home under Urban Meyer. And why again are the Buckeyes just barely a touchdown favorite?
It’s because Vegas knows something is fishy here. Take the points, (19) but you don’t need them. (20) Sooners win straight-up, 31-30.
Last week: 15-5