Tiger Opponent Preview: Oklahoma Sooners

The number one ranked Oklahoma Sooners come to Columbia this Saturday with a lot on the line for both teams

On Saturday evening (7:00 P.M., ABC), the #1 Oklahoma Sooners (6-0, 2-0) invade Faurot Field to take on the #11 Missouri Tigers (6-0, 2-0). Oklahoma's coming off of a 52-0 thrashing of Iowa State. Earlier this week, Missouri Head Coach, Gary Pinkel, talked about the Sooners.

"Oklahoma's playing real well," said Coach Pinkel. "We're going to play a really, really good football team, a perennial power in our league."

"He's does a great job," continued Coach Pinkel, referring to Oklahoma Head Coach Bob Stoops. "He's a good football coach, and he's very deserving of all the credit he gets for building that (football) program."

Following last week's games, the initial BCS standings were released, with Oklahoma on top, a positioning which is aided by the computer ranking component of the BCS formula. Looking at the Jeff Sagarin Ratings, one of the six computer ratings utilized within the BCS formula, it appears that being undefeated through what is tabulated, to this point, as the 15th strongest schedule in the country, is what has placed the Sooners at the top of the BCS standings. Of the 10 undefeated teams remaining in the FBS, Oklahoma's SOS is rated the strongest.

Coach Stoops was asked about the BCS Standings, and was informed that some don't think the Sooners deserve the top spot.

"We don't care anything about where we're at, what they say, or what the poll says," replied Coach Stoops. "All we care about is what we do, and what we prepare, and what we do against Missouri. The rest of it will be where it needs to be................... I don't really care what they think."

According to Sagarin, the Sooners own victories at home over #101 Utah State, #9 Florida State, #30 Air Force, and #55 Iowa State. Oklahoma defeated #44 Cincinnati on the road, and #26 Texas in Dallas.

The Sooners appear to be a young team that has gotten better throughout the first half of the season, and are hitting their stride in conference play.

Oklahoma's schooner is pulled by their offense. They have great athletes on both sides of the ball, and that contributes to the Sooners' formidable defense and special teams. But, it's the offense that pulls the weight. Oklahoma's offense is ranked 3rd (458.3 yards/game) (17th NCAA) in the Big 12 in total offense, just ahead of Texas A&M (457 yards/game). The Sooner's are ranked 3rd in the Big 12 in scoring offense (36 points/game) (17th NCAA), 5th in the Big 12 in rushing offense (155.3 yards/game) (56th NCAA), and 4th in the Big 12 in passing offense (303 yards/game) (12th NCAA).

For comparison, Oklahoma's 56th ranked rushing attack is ranked just ahead of Colorado (57th NCAA), but CU gains 3.71 yards/attempt compared to OU's 3.44 yards/attempt in their respective running games. Also, OU's #17 ranking in total offense compares with other MU opponents this season, including San Diego State (#16), and Texas A&M (#18). The Sooners' #17 ranking in scoring offense compares to Missouri's own #24 ranking, and to SDSU's #29 ranking in scoring offense.

Like Missouri, Oklahoma has done a good job of taking care of the football, and enjoys a +1.5 turnover margin (1st Big 12, 2nd NCAA).

Oklahoma is balanced on offense, with a 52%-48% run-to-pass ratio. The Sooners play an up-tempo style on offense, averaging 86.5 offensive plays/game.

Oklahoma's offense features a trio of stars. Sophomore QB Landry Jones 6'4" 219 is the 4th-rated passer in the Big 12. He's completed 67% of his pass attempts (163-242-3 for 1791 yards and 14 TDs) for a passer efficiency rating of 146.1, and is averaging 10.99 yards/completion, and 7.4 yards/attempt. Coach Stoops answered a questiond about his QB.

"That's fair to say (that other than Sam Bradford, Landry Jones is the most advanced QB I've had)," said Coach Stoops. "Sure. Midway through his sophomore year. Yeah, definitely. And, if it wasn't for Sam, everyone would be going crazy about him. He's pretty special. We could not be more elated with how he's playing. And, he's only going to keep getting better."

Jones' favorite target is the explosive junior slot receiver, Ryan Broyles 5'11" 183. Broyles leads the Big 12 and the NCAA in receptions (10.2 receptions/game), and is 2nd in the conference (3rd NCAA) in receiving yards per game (116.7 yards/game). Broyles has caught 61 passes for 700 yards (11.5 yards/reception) and 5 TDs on the season. The elusive Broyles is also the Sooners' leading punt returner.

Other receiving threats for the Sooners include freshman Kenny Stills 6'0" 183 (3.8 receptions/game, 12.6 yards/reception, 1 TD), and junior Dejuan Miller 6'4" 221 (2.5 receptions/game, 13.3 yards/reception). A handful of others average about 1 reception/game for Oklahoma, including Columbia, MO native, freshman FB Trey Millard. Of note is that Oklahoma utilizes Millard, and especially their two TEs, as receivers down near the goal line. Between the three of them, they have 5 TD receptions.

The third star in Oklahoma's offense is their work horse senior RB, DeMarco Murray 6'1" 207. Against Iowa State, Murray became Oklahoma's all-time touchdown leader when he scored the 58th TD of his career. On the season, Murray has rushed the football 150 times for 663 yards (4.4 yards/carry) and 11 TDs. His 110 rushing yards per game ranks him 4th in the conference, and 16th in the country. He is also Oklahoma's 3rd leading receiver with 3.7 receptions/game for 7.7 yards/reception, and 2 TDs. His 13 total TDs is tied for the lead in the Big 12. Murray is also the Sooners' leading kick-off returner (24.8 yards/return), a job he shares with back-up RB, senior Mossis Madu 6'0" 197 (27.0 yards/return). Madu may get a few touches from scrimmage, as either a runner or as a receiver, but he's not been as productive as Murray.

In fact, the duo of Murray and Broyles accounts for 45% of the Sooners' offensive plays, and for 56% of their total offense.

For comparison, Murray's #16 rushing status ranks behind Illinois' Mikel LeShoure (#14) and San Diego State's Ronnie Hillman (#7).

Defensively, Oklahoma is led by junior LB Travis Lewis 6'2 232. Not only is Lewis the Sooners leading tackler, with 59 total tackles, but Lewis has taken on the role of vocal leader within the Sooner defense. Senior DE Jeremy Beal 6'3" 267 is Oklahoma's sack leader (27 total tackles, 8.5 TFLs, 6 QB sacks, and 3 forced fumbles), and is a real force up front, along with junior DE Frank Alexander 6'4" 251 (16 tackles, 5 TFLs, and 3 QB sacks).

In the secondary, senior SS Jonathan Nelson 5'11" 188 (42 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBUs), senior FS Quinton Carter 6'1" 200 (2 INTs, 3 PBUs), and junior CB Jamell Fleming 5'11" 191 (2 INTs, 6 PBUs) are joined, among others, by a real productive nickel back, in freshman Tony Jefferson 5'11" 198 (5 TFLs, 5 PBUs).

Oklahoma is ranked #71 nationally (6th Big 12) in total defense (373.5 yards/game), and 28th (4th Big 12) in scoring defense (19 points/game). Their rush defense is ranked #59 nationally (7th Big 12) (146 yards/game), and the Sooners are ranked 81st nationally (7th Big 12) in pass defense (227.5 yards/game). For comparison, Texas A&M is ranked 2nd nationally in rush defense. Illinois is ranked #23, MU #29, and CU #47 in rush defense. San Diego State is ranked #28, Illinois #35, MU #58, and CU #87 in pass defense.

In total defense, Illinois is ranked #20, MU #29, A&M #30, SDSU #46, and CU #70. In scoring defense, SDSU is ranked 19th, and Illinois #24.

Don't be confused by the comparative statistics. Oklahoma is the best team that Missouri will have faced thus far. They've amassed statistics comparable to some of Missouri's other opponents while playing against one of the stronger schedules in the country.

In addition, it becomes readily apparent that Oklahoma is an improving team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They have numerous talented, young players on both sides of the ball who are rapidly gaining experience. Coach Stoops talked about his team.

"These guys do have a really good chemistry," said Coach Stoops. "I think they've really grasped onto the attitude of making sure that we're getting better, each week, in making improvement. And, for the most part, we've been able to do that."

Comparative Statistics

[NCAA Ranking in Brackets]

MIZZOU____________________ OKLAHOMA

414.67 [43rd]___ Total Offense___ 458.33 [17th]

131.83 [84th]___Rushing Offense__ 155.33 [56th]

13___________TDs Rushing__________ 14

282.83 [19th]___Passing Offense__ 303.00 [12th]

138.09 [38th]__ Passing Efficiency__ 145.09 [32nd]

11___________TDs Passing___________ 14

34.50 [24th]____Scoring Offense____ 36.00 [17th]

328.67 [29th]___ Total Defense___ 373.50 [71st]

117.17 [29th]__ Rushing Defense__ 146.00 [59th]

3_________ TDs Allowed Rushing_________ 7

211.50 [58th]___Passing Defense__ 227.50 [81st]

103.84 [10th]__ Pass Effic. Defense__ 116.19 [36th]

4_________ TDs Allowed Passing_________ 6

10.83 [2nd]____Scoring Defense___ 19.00 [28th]

+0.83 [T-19th]_ Turnover Margin___ +1.50 [2nd]

10 / 5_ ______ Fumbles/Lost________ 9 / 2

4_________ Interceptions Thrown_________ 3

9_________ Interceptions Gained_________ 7

20.19 [87th]___Kickoff Return Avg.__ 22.53 [51st]

6.53 [86th]____ Punt Return Avg.____9.00 [46th]

41.04 [6th]____ Net Punting Avg.___ 39.38 [21st]

3.33 [4th]_______Sacks By______3.00 [11th]

1.17 [28th]_____ Sacks Allowed_____1.67 [50th]

27:57 [101st]__ Avg. Time of Poss.___31:21 [32nd]

37.5% [T-84th]__3rd Down Conv.__ 47.1% [26th]

50.0% [T-60th]__4th Down Conv._ 55.6% [T-52nd]

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