Why the Sooners Will Win......the 2012 game
The season has been marked by a couple of disappointing home losses for the Oklahoma Sooners. Despite a number of impressive wins, including a demolition of rival Texas, many fans will remember the home losses to Kansas State and Notre Dame, the latter particularly painful due to the big stage and pageantry associated with the Fighting Irish's return to Norman.
When OU fans put that hurt aside, though, they recognize the team has lost only to 2 top 5 teams. There has been no stumble against inferior squads the Sooners were "supposed" to beat, as we've seen in previous years. Instead, there has been a steady growth on offense, the emergence of several playmakers and a steadied defense under new/old defensive coordinator Mike Stoops.
And it's that defense that gives Oklahoma an edge in the 2012 Bedlam game. Both teams can score, no doubt, but the Sooners have one of the better pass defenses in the nation, able to shut down the relatively inexperienced Cowboys receivers. Tony Jefferson is a rare safety that can tackle and cover, and the Hurst/Colvin duo might be one of the best corner combinations around. Oklahoma State doesn't have the benefit of experience at quarterback this year, and dealing with the tight man coverage is sure to force the Cowboys into mistakes.
Then, of course, there are the intangibles, which seem to largely favor the Sooners. OSU fans will note the disappearance of OU's home invincibility. Three losses in the last two seasons have washed away the aura, they'd say. But Oklahoma's home record since Bob Stoops took over in Norman is still ridiculous. Whatever the reason, opponents don't fare well at Memorial Stadium. Specifically, Oklahoma State doesn't fare well at Memorial Stadium, winning there only 8 times in history and only once in the last 6 tries. If Kansas State loses another one, Oklahoma has a shot at the Big 12 title. And finally, there is still the sting of last year's game, something the Sooners are hoping to cleanse away on a bright Thanksgiving-weekend afternoon.
Put all that together, and it spells disaster for the Cowboys.
Why the Cowboys Will Win......the 2012 game
Last year was one for the ages for the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Yes, there was the emotional loss at Iowa State that cost them a chance at the National Championship. But 2011 ended with a blowout win over rival Oklahoma, a Big 12 Championship and a thrilling BCS game victory. Unfortunately, the ride had to come to an end, and many expected 2012 to be a step back, a rebuilding of sorts.
That has been the case, somewhat. The Cowboys have lost 3 games and aren't likely to repeat as Big 12 Champions. But the team has also shown an incredible resiliency. Whoever the quarterback (a wide-eyed true freshman, an overlooked back-up or a little-known 3rd stringer), the offense has continued to hum. In fact, only once has Oklahoma State been held under 30 points. And the defense, questioned after giving up big point totals to Arizona and Texas, has settled down and is playing some of its best ball.
Statistically, the Sooners may have the defensive edge, but let's just go to the tape. Over the last two games, Oklahoma's run defense has looked atrocious while Oklahoma State has put teams away relatively early. With Joseph Randle, the Cowboys have an excellent running game, able to exploit the Oklahoma defense in the same way Baylor and West Virginia did. And on the other side of the ball, Oklahoma State showed against Texas Tech they can make a high-powered passing QB uncomfortable in the pocket.
Oklahoma fans will hope the Norman atmosphere will get into the head of the inexperienced Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf. But that atmosphere didn't seem to bother a youngster from Notre Dame. As well, the Cowboys come into the game on a confidence high after thrashing the Sooners a year ago.
Put all that together, and it spells disaster for the Sooners.
OutcomeNow you have the breakdown of what could happen. How about what will happen...? Here's my prediction:
In talking with some people about Bedlam, I hear often the idea that Oklahoma State can't possibly beat Oklahoma without Weeden and Blackmon. But if you look back to 2011, the OSU passing game was efficient, not spectacular. It was 151 rushing yards from Randle and 119 more from Jeremy Smith that did the trick. Both of those guys are back for the Cowboys, and after seeing what West Virginia and Baylor have done against Oklahoma on the ground, I see some wide-open lanes for Oklahoma State.
Playing the game in Stillwater the last two years, Oklahoma is going to love having this one back on home turf, where last they beat the Cowboys in shutout fashion. That's simply not going to happen this time. Oklahoma State will use the running game to settle the emotions of the stage, and Oklahoma will hit some pass plays to keep the game going back and forth. In the end, it will be close, down to which QB can make a play.
And if I'm choosing between a lightly-recruited signal caller who was 3rd on the depth chart to start the season, starting his 1st road game, versus a 5th year senior with nearly 50 starts under his belt, playing in the final home game of his career...? Well, whether it's a crucial error by Chelf or Landry Jones duplicating his heroics from the previous week, I say the Oklahoma Sooners pull it out in the final minutes.
Oklahoma 38, Oklahoma State 34
The Result2012 was a Bedlam for the ages... Not only that, it was also one in which I was fairly accurate with my prediction. The Cowboys did indeed run the ball effectively against the Sooners. With a couple of short field opportunities, Oklahoma State was able to build an early lead. Joseph Randle scored 4 TDs on the day, and Clint Chelf, far more poised in a hostile environment than I though he might be, completed tough passes and broke from the pocket when OU's pass coverage held.
Oklahoma, trailing the entirety of the day, missed on redzone opportunities; each time they would get close or tie it, OSU rose to the occasion with plays such as a 75-yard Chelf to Josh Stewart completion at the beginning of the 2nd half. When a Jalen Saunders punt return sparked comeback momentum for the Sooners, Chelf and company had a chance to put the game away. Instead, Chelf was off his mark, leading to a quick punt. Oklahoma proceeded to march the length of the field behind a determined Landry Jones in his final home game. He spread the ball around, and with 4 seconds to go, Oklahoma sent the game to OT with a Blake Bell TD.
In the extra frame, the Cowboys got the ball first, but a couple of missed Chelf passes forced a field goal. The Sooners, with the Norman crowd in a frenzy, needed just 2 running plays to win on a Brennan Clay TD.
Final Score: 51-48