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Oklahoma Q&A: Bombs Away in Bedlam

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Thanks again to Jack Shields, the head honcho over at the Crimson and Cream Machine for his OU insights. Deep balls worry the Sooners the most and he shares a strategy on stopping the Sooners, but please if you’re going to Norman for the game, eat a Cap’n Crunch-flavored corn dog for me and report back.

1. After some non-conference struggles, the Sooners swept through the conference schedule winning by a little (Tech, TCU, Texas) and by a lot (West Virginia, K-State and Baylor). Capped by that dominant win in Morgantown, what are some things the Sooners are doing in November that they weren’t early in the season?

Early in the season, the Sooners were struggling to create turnovers. Losing the turnover battles (along with a wealth of other issues) crippled them against Houston and Ohio State. Against Baylor and West Virginia, however, OU was able to create turnovers in the red zone.

OU’s defensive struggles are still present, but they’ve been able to overcome them by winning the turnover battle. Honestly, if the Sooners weren’t able to create those turnovers against Baylor and West Virginia, lopsided wins would instead have been close contests (and potentially losses).

2. This OU offense doesn’t feel like that Sam Bradford-led 2008 offense, but it’s averaging five more yards of total offense each week than that team (insane). Going into each week, what are specific things the Sooner offense just feels super confident about doing?

I think it’s safe to say the Sooners are confident in their ability to run the football on anyone in the Big 12. They have two of the most talented backs in the country, and the offensive line is really starting to come along after experiencing early-season struggles.

This has made things much easier on Baker Mayfield, which is why he’s had so much success in conference play. When you’re able to establish the run, you can do pretty much anything offensively (provided you have a good quarterback).

3. It’s been a while since OU has lost a game, but what are things that other teams have done (offensively or defensively) that gave them a chance late in the game?

The teams that have had the most success against OU in Big 12 play – TCU, Texas and Texas Tech – had success with the deep ball. Shane Buechele was only able to connect on two deep balls, but Pat Mahomes and Kenny Hill were able to do it regularly.

The Cowboys have connected on plenty of bombs this year, which is what worries me most about Saturday’s game. Defensively, Kansas State was able to hold OU’s offense to 38 points by winning the possession battle and making tackles in the open field (staples of Bill Snyder-coached teams), so that’s the best solution I can come up with to slow down the Sooners.

4. Concerning Sooners’ season averages, which do you feel more confident in going into the game: the Sooners scoring more than 45 or holding the Cowboys to less than 30?

The Sooners scoring 45, and it’s not even close, unfortunately. Maybe these teams will surprise us and keep the score at a respectable number, but I’m not terribly confident. I think we’re looking at a repeat of the 2012 game.

5. What matchup(s) interest you most heading into Saturday’s game?

Oklahoma State’s offensive line vs. OU’s defensive front. OSU’s running game has come along as of late, and OU had a tough time defending the run in Morgantown two weeks ago. In the passing game, OU can potentially mitigate the secondary concerns by pressuring Rudolph. However, Mike Stoops has been reluctant to rush more than three for a good chunk of this season, so I’m not too confident in that regard.

6. Baker vs. Mason Rudolph, Perine/Mixon vs. Justice Hill/Chris Carson, and James Washington vs. Dede Westbrook. So many intriguing comparisons in this game, which do you think ultimately determines the difference in the game?

As you mentioned, there are so many playmakers on the offensive side of the ball in this one. Dede and Washington are going to get theirs. It’s just going to come down to which defense can make some crucial stops. OSU had a very good defensive performance two weeks ago, but they’re still allowing 441 yards per game this season. OU’s defense is giving up 443 yards per game, so I think expecting either squad to shut the other one down is a bit unrealistic. It’ll come down to creating turnovers, getting stops on third down, and holding offenses to field goal attempts.

7. For the Cowboy fans heading into unfriendly territory in Norman, what would you recommend as some good gameday stops in town?

The Mont is always a good place to go, but you may have to wait a long time for a seat inside due to the weather. Campus Corner’s bars and restaurants are pretty fun before the game, and there are plenty of options. Blackbird (on Campus Corner) is a pretty cool gastropub with some great food and drink options.

The Deli is a great place for live music after the game (but don’t be fooled by the name, because they don’t serve food). The new O’Connell’s location on Campus Corner isn’t quite like the original, but beer rockets are always a good thing. On Friday and Saturday night, just walk around Campus Corner and see what appeals to you.

After the bars close, make sure to go to Diamond Dawgs. They have a Captain Crunch-battered corn dog that’s good enough to make an OSU fan yell “Boomer Sooner.”

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