Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State: Game preview, storylines & predictions

Syndication: The Oklahoman
BRYAN TERRY/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK

For the first time this season, OU will take on the role of the underdog.

The final weekend of college football’s regular season is finally here as the No. 10 Oklahoma Sooners (10-1, 7-1) prepare to take on the No. 7 Oklahoma State Cowboys (10-1, 7-1) in what is shaping up to be a Bedlam showdown for the ages. Inside this top 10 matchup, OU is still working to secure its spot in the Big 12 Championship Game, while OSU has already punched its ticket to Arlington. Could this be the first part of a back-to-back battle for the conference crown between these two teams? Stay tuned to find out.

Date, Time & TV: Saturday, Nov. 27 at 6:30 p.m. CT on ABC

Line: Oklahoma +4.5 (as of Friday at 12 p.m. CT)

O/U: 49.5

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Major Storylines

The Cowboys’ defense is seriously good

In his fourth season at OSU, defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has firmly established himself as one of the top assistants in college football. By the numbers, Oklahoma State ranks first in the nation in third down defense (.244), first in team sacks and tackles-for-loss (43.0 and 90.0), second in scoring defense (14.91) and third in total defense (267.5 ypg). Those stats are wildly exceptional by virtually every measure, but perhaps even more impressive than those statistics has been how this group has limited and/or shut down just about every offense it’s faced in 2021.

A defense playing at the level the Cowboys are playing at doesn’t do anything to ease the minds of Sooners fans going into this weekend, especially considering OU’s recent offensive struggles over the last two games. Lincoln Riley’s offense was a bit more productive last Saturday than it was in Waco, but going against one of the very best defenses in the nation will pose a steep challenge that may be too difficult to overcome on the road.

Can Oklahoma’s D-line control the game?

Coming into the season, Oklahoma’s defensive line was expected to be the strength of the team, but through 11 games, that unit has been somewhat inconsistent week-by-week. Still, between Isaiah Thomas, Nik Bonitto, Perrion Winfrey and Jalen Redmond, those four Sooners have a combined 21.0 sacks on the season which is better than the total team efforts of 37 FBS schools. If they play up to their capabilities in Stillwater — and that won’t be easy to do against an Oklahoma State O-line that has only given up 12 sacks on the year — then OU should have a good chance to leave Boone Pickens Stadium with the win.

OSU players to watch

Offensively, keep an eye on RB Jaylen Warren and WR Tay Martin for the Cowboys. Both skill players have shown a knack for breaking off a big play or two as their touches increase throughout games, and both have been models of consistency. Defensively, you could list just about any starter here and it would be a valid choice, but pay attention to LB Devin Harper. He’s a terror who will try to make a life difficult for Caleb Williams in the backfield, so the Sooners’ must do whatever they can to keep him from disrupting their offensive flow.

Bedlam rematch scenarios for the Big 12 title

An OU win this Saturday would force a Sooners-Cowboys rematch in Arlington on Dec. 3, but that isn’t the only path to the Big 12 Championship Game for the Crimson & Cream. Hours before OU and OSU square off at 6:30 p.m., Baylor hosts Texas Tech at 11 a.m. If the Red Raiders manage to upset the Bears, that would guarantee a Bedlam rematch for all the conference marbles, regardless of what happens this weekend in Stillwater.

Prediction

Expect this game to play out exactly how it looks on paper with defense ruling the day. Now, even though Oklahoma State is already a lock to play in the Big 12 title game, the OSU players and home crowd will be completely fired up for this one. OU is walking into an angry hornet’s nest, and it’s going to need Caleb Williams and the offensive line to turn in one of the cleanest performances of the season if the Sooners want any chance at walking away with a win. On defense, Oklahoma will have an opportunity to take advantage of at least a couple mistakes from Spencer Sanders and company, but overall, expect field position and special teams to decide who prevails in Bedlam. With that said, give me the road ‘dogs with a walk-off field goal.

Oklahoma 27, Oklahoma State 24

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