The Oklahoma Sooners survived another scare on Saturday as they bested the TCU Horned Frogs 28-24 in their final home game of the season.
It was another up and down game for Lincoln Riley’s squad, who jumped out to a quick 21-0 lead and looked like they were going to win big. But, turnovers absolutely killed the Sooners with multiple promising drives ending deep in TCU territory including a pick six by the Horned Frogs that made the game 28-24 in the middle of the fourth quarter.
Alex Grinch’s defense performed overall pretty well (despite what Jonathan Vilma and Jim Mora Jr. may say), and really was the reason the Sooners won the football game despite the turnovers nullifying that OU dominated TCU in almost every statistical category. Those huge mistakes were undoubtedly what kept it from being a blowout.
Nevertheless Oklahoma won again and kept their College Football Playoff hopes alive, which also got a massive boost by Arizona State upsetting Oregon in Tempe.
OU really needed the Ducks to take a loss, because jumping Oregon at some point seemed extremely unlikely and now that massive hurdle has been cleared thanks to Herm Edwards and the Sun Devils. So now that Oregon has fallen, let’s just reset the CFP picture before jumping into some Bedlam preview:
Oregon Loss Means…
In my opinion, Oklahoma was not going to make it in over Oregon if both teams finished out the year at 12-1, so obviously the Ducks losing was beyond huge for the Sooners’ chances.
As it stands now, OU is still behind another PAC-12 team in Utah, but the Utes will have to deal with Oregon in the PAC-12 Championship game next week. First off, I think Oregon will win that football game over Utah. But, even if the Utes prevail, I think the Sooners will leap frog Utah for the final spot should OU finish out with two more wins to end the year.
Besides the fact that brand name schools get favoritism (it’s just the reality), if both teams win out Oklahoma will have beaten Iowa State (currently #23), Oklahoma State (currently #21), and Baylor twice (currently #9). Utah will have beaten…Oregon. The Utes resume will be quite thin, so I honestly think OU gets the nod.
As far as Alabama is concerned, barring a complete demolition of Auburn this weekend I don’t see how the Tua-less Crimson Tide can do enough to prove themselves. The best thing Alabama has going for them right now is that they played LSU fairly closely, as they have no real impressive wins.
I hate to just put it as bluntly as “If Oklahoma wins out, they’re in,” but it sort of feels right now that if Oklahoma wins their two games (against two ranked teams), the Sooners will once again make the College Football Playoff.
The wild card in this situation, of course, is the possibility that Georgia upsets LSU or Minnesota upsets Ohio State in their respective conference championship games. That would could potentially be very problematic for the Sooners, but I wouldn’t bank on either of those things happening mainly because…have you seen LSU and Ohio State play?
Bedlam: OSU Offense vs OU Defense?
Turning our attention to the rather large Bedlam game looming this Saturday night, the Pokes offense is going to look a lot different than we thought it would a few weeks ago.
When I talked about this game previously, I mentioned several times how a big reason I thought the Cowboys could give OU some problems was the dynamic ability of Quarterback Spencer Sanders.
Well, sadly, Sanders is out injured right now, just hoping that he will at least be available to play in their bowl game. Add that huge blow to when Tylan Wallace went down earlier this season, and the Cowboys are out their 2nd and 3rd best offensive players.
I say 2nd and 3rd best for a reason, because they have this guy named Chuba Hubbard who is pretty good, I’d say. Probably the best running back in college football, no big deal. If you’re into that sort of thing.
Hubbard is very very good, and with Dru Brown under center rather than Sanders, I would expect a lot of Hubbard. This is his last impression to make on the Heisman voters (I wouldn’t expect an invite to New York, Cowboy fans), and also is maybe his final game in the orange and black if he elects to sit out their bowl game and then head to the NFL.
They’re going to feed him, so stopping him has to be the first, second, and third goal for the OU defense. Dru Brown is a solid quarterback who is efficient, going 22/29 for 196 yards and 2 touchdowns, but he isn’t the big play guy that Sanders is. Making the emphasis on keeping Hubbard away from big plays even more paramount.
Also, OU is going to need to slow down the 11th-year Senior Dillon Stoner (I have no clue how he’s only a Junior), as he’ll likely be Brown’s main go-to target. He had his season-high in receptions last week with eight, including a touchdown.
Bedlam: OU Offense vs OSU Defense
The Oklahoma State defense is 80th in yards allowed per game and 57th in points allowed per game, so fairly middle of the road. They are, however, a top 50 team in forced turnovers – an area where Oklahoma has severely struggled the last few weeks.
The Sooners have caught a terrible case of fumblitis recently, constantly putting the ball on the turf both in Waco and at home against TCU, not to mention a couple of brutal Jalen Hurts interceptions.
So that will obviously be an area where Oklahoma will need to try and improve, as it almost cost them against TCU despite dominating the Horned Frogs statistically.
While OU was more run heavy last week, they may want to try and attack the Cowboys through the air. The Pokes have the 116th (!) ranked passing defense in the country. Yikes.
It was a quiet return to action for CeeDee Lamb last week, having just two catches for 16 yards. I would expect him, in his final Bedlam game, to make several big plays in the same stadium his buddy Marquise Brown’s “Hollywood” nickname was born (shoutout Gus Johnson).
Kolby Harvell-Peel is probably Oklahoma State’s best secondary player this year, leading OSU in both interceptions (5) and pass deflections (13). So Hurts will have to try and keep him from making some big plays that could give Brown and the OSU offense good field position.
What will be a fun matchup is the OU run game against the Oklahoma State defensive front, for while the Cowboys pass defense is putrid, their run defense is top 40 in the country. Oklahoma, meanwhile, has a top 10 rushing attack.
It is mainly going to be very interesting if Riley tries to stick with the more run-based offense like last week where the Sooners ran the ball 64 times compared to just 21 passes, or if he will try to play into the Cowboys’ weakness more by airing it out.
Either way, the OU offense should see some solid success in this one like they have all season, as long as they stay away from all the turnovers.
With Spencer Sanders, this was going to be a very scary game for Oklahoma going into Stillwater. Without Sanders, its still a tough matchup but certainly one that much more favors the Sooners.
I would be quite surprised if the Cowboys found a way to knock off Oklahoma on Saturday night, but I do think the game will be competitive. OU hasn’t put together a complete performance since their 52-14 beatdown of West Virginia over a month ago, so it’s hard to say with confidence they will this time around.
This Oklahoma team has been one of the weirder ones in recent memory, sometimes looking a like a team that could compete for a title and at others looking like they are fortunate to be above .500.
It’s been a strange season, but somehow the winding road may still end up in the College Football Playoff if they can take care of their business the next two weeks.
The #7 Oklahoma Sooners will head to Stillwater to take on the #21 Oklahoma State Cowboys at Boone Pickens Stadium Saturday night at 7:00 on FOX, and can be heard over the air as always right here on 107.7 The Franchise.