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Turnovers Could be the Key to an Oklahoma State Victory over Oklahoma

Two teams trending in opposite directions on the TO graph.



Oklahoma State hosts its in-state rival as a 13-point underdog, sans its leading receiver and starting quarterback. But even at full strength — and if OSU were somehow a double-digit favorite — you’d be hard-pressed to find a single orange-clad Oklahoman who would feel much better about this game.

But there is one specific category that Oklahoma State has had the edge in over the last month, and it might just make the difference in a Cowboy upset.

Turnovers — the Cowboys are forcing a lot of them all of the sudden and the Sooners have committed just as many over the last four games.

After staring at an historically bad turnover margin midway through the season, Oklahoma State flipped the switch. Before a zero-turnover (both ways) affair at West Virginia, OSU, Jim Knowles’ group took it back 10 times over a three-game stretch and the Cowboys combined TO margin was +8 against Iowa State, TCU and Kansas.

“They’ve been active,” said Lincoln Riley on Monday. “They’ve ripped a couple of balls out then they’ve been very opportunistic in the throw game. If you watch them, the majority of the ones that are intercept-able, they’ve made the plays. They’ve done a nice job with it.

“It’s obviously been key in several of their wins, especially against Iowa State. I know, certainly, that one definitely comes to mind. TCU, it’s been a big part of what they’ve done. So give them a lot of credit. They’ve made the plays when they’ve been there.”

Over that same span, while going 3-1, the Sooners gave it away 10 times and are -7 in turnover margin.

That’s two teams trending in opposite directions in the one stat that can make up for a significant talent disparity. The equalizer between one opponent at mostly full strength and one trying to find ways to replace two of its Big Three.

OSU’s sudden ability to dispossess the opposition could affect Sooner QB Jalen Hurts the most. He’s been the Sooners’ main culprit in turnovers.

Hurts’ season totals of seven fumbles and five lost are both both tied with Spencer Sanders for T7 and T5 nationally. Four of those fumbles have come in the last two weeks and he’s thrown three of his six interceptions in the last three, including pick-sixes in consecutive weeks.

“They have a really good scheme and they play it well,” Hurts said on Monday. “They got really good players. They get to the ball fast and they play the ball well, so. Another good team and another good defense that we’ve really got to prepare for well and be ready for.”

The Cowboys will need more than just a lucky bounce of the ball or a Kolby Harvell-Peel interception to earn the upset on Saturday night, but if they continue to take it away — and the Sooners continue their bad habits — the Cowboys will have more than a puncher’s chance.

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