The 10th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys welcome the 14th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners to Stillwater this weekend for another edition of the Bedlam Battle.
Mike Gundy's Cowboys already have a share of their first-ever Big 12 South title, but a spot in the Big 12 championship won't be guaranteed without a win over the Sooners this weekend. Oklahoma State has won 10 of its 11 games this season and sits at 6-1 in-conference following last weekend's 48-14 rout of Kansas in Lawrence. The Cowboys, who come into this season-finale having won four straight games, have only a 51-41 shootout loss to Nebraska as a negative on their record.
The Sooners are in familiar territory with this season marking the ninth time in the last 11 years that Oklahoma has a shot at the Big 12 South title as the regular season comes to a close. The Sooners, who are 9-2 overall and 5-2 in league play, are also coming off a big road win, knocking off Baylor last weekend, 53-24.
Oklahoma holds a huge edge in this series at 81-16-7 and has won seven straight meetings.
The Sooners are sure to test Oklahoma State's defense with a balanced attack that is generating 36.6 ppg, on a hefty 470.9 yards of total offense. The passing game is the preferred mode of travel, responsible for 324.4 yards per game.
Sophomore QB Landry Jones is having a huge season worthy of All-American consideration, completing 66.9 percent of his passes, for 3,479 yards and 30 TDs. His job is made easier by the presence of Biletnikoff Award finalist Ryan Broyles. The junior wideout has hauled in a whopping 106 balls, for 1,309 yards and 12 TDs.
If the opposition contains the aerial OU aerial assault, tailback DeMarco Murray (973 yards, 4.4 ypc, 14 TDs) is more than capable of making them pay.
Mike Gundy knows the OSU defense will need to come up with a gameplan for Broyles.
"Our defensive coaches will have to put their heads together. He's very good. He's elusive in space, catches the ball well, catches the ball down the field well and he's been very competitive. He's going to make some plays. When you compete against an athlete who has had as much success as he's had, you have to understand that he's going to make some plays and you try and limit those and put him in situation where it's more difficult to get the ball to him and force them to punt."
The Oklahoma defense is a step or two behind the offense in terms of production. The Sooners are giving up just over 20 points per game this season, while showing a vulnerability to the run (155.1 ypg, 4.3 ypc). Still, with 27 sacks and 23 forced turnovers, the roster obviously still possesses playmakers on this side of the football.
Leading the way is All-American candidate Travis Lewis from his LB position. The veteran leads the team with 89 total tackles, with 5.5 TFLs and two INTs. The other All-American candidate resides up front in the form of defensive end Jeremy Beal. The 6-3, 270-pound senior has 55 tackles on the year and leads the team in TFLs (17.0) and sacks (8.5).
The OU defense is going to need to take it to a new level in Stillwater, as Oklahoma State possesses one of the most prolific offenses in the nation. It is a pick-your-poison type of offense that ranks third in the nation in scoring (45.3 ppg), second in passing (363.6 ypg) and first in total yards (552.0 ypg).
Quarterback Brandon Weeden has had an All-American campaign this season, completing 67.7 percent of his throws, for 3,780 yards, with 30 TDs. Like Oklahoma, OSU boasts of one of the nation's Biletnikoff finalists in Justin Blackmon. The sophomore sensation has amassed 94 receptions, for 1,560 yards and 17 TDs.
If Weeden and Blackmon are held in check, tailback Kendall Hunter (1,461 yards, 16 TDs) is more than capable of handling the workload, ranking fifth nationally in both rushing and rushing TDs.
OU's Stoops sees a lot of similarities between his offense and OSU's.
"They've got a great receiver and a lot of receivers. Of course Blackmon is a special guy. They have a good quarterback and excellent running game and they use them all. Again, I'm sure when people face us it's similar. Our quarterback has played great, Ryan Broyles isn't easy to cover and DeMarco has been sensational. There is a lot of that give-and-take on who you are trying to be good against."
The OSU defense has been inconsistent at times this season, but it hasn't really cost the team much in terms of victories thanks to the explosiveness of the offense. The Cowboys are yielding 26.0 ppg (64th nationally) and 396.9 ypg (78th nationally).
Senior middle linebacker Orie Lemon is the anchor for this defense, leading the team with 107 total tackles, including a team-high nine behind the line of scrimmage. Senior cover corner Andrew McGee (38 tackles) is the resident ball hawk in the secondary with a team-high five INTs.
This game features two of the three finalists for the Biletnikoff Award so expect some fireworks down the field. Oklahoma has had some problems on the road this season and that trend will likely continue with a strong and balanced Cowboy attack.