Bedlam: Key Matchups and Prediction

There are several position battles that will play a major role in Oklahoma State's showdown with Oklahoma on Saturday night at Boone Pickens Stadium, but none moreso than the Cowboy defensive line and Jamie Blatnick (No. 50) against the Sooner offensive line. Here are Robert Allen's key matchups and prediction for the 105th Bedlam game.

1. OSU Defensive Line vs. OU Offensive Line
You could easily list the matchup between the OSU offensive line and the OU defensive line as well, but I think this matchup is more interesting and may go a little further toward determining the final outcome. By the way both the OSU offensive line and the OU defensive line are pretty good.

I like the OSU offensive line in that matchup as it has developed into the best offensive line in the Big 12. I do believe OSU will be able to run the football with some success and that has been something both Missouri and Texas A&M did to a certain degree in beating OU.

Now the OSU defensive line and the OU offensive line as not as good as their counterparts but they are both "blue collar" and give great effort. The key is whether OSU can exhibit good gap control and keep OU from rushing the ball as Cincinnati (close call) and Missouri and Texas A&M (both losses) did.

OU's averaged 84.3 rushing yards per game. If the OSU defensive line comes close to that and also applies solid pressure to OU quarterback Landry Jones then the game becomes a lot easier to win. Keep an eye on the rushing totals on both teams as it may be the most important stat to monitor during the contest.
Edge: Slight Edge to OSU Defensive Line

2. OSU Secondary vs. Ryan Broyles and OU Wide Receivers
It is really Ryan Broyles and Kenny Stills that you have to worry about. Broyles is really a multi-catch guy that can explode over being an explosive guy that makes lots of catches.

They are consistent and smash routes, flat curls, and scissor routes will keep moving the chains and take it down the field. It is when secondaries get over aggressive in trying to stop the short routes that OU picks their spots for a deep route and home run ball.

OSU's defensive backs need to have patience and need to be under control in their coverage. Without a pass rush, which is up to the front, it can be a pick your poison situation for the secondary in either playing soft and keeping the ball in front of you or getting aggressive and seeing Broyles or Stills get loose deep.
Edge: Edge to OU Wide Receivers and Broyles

3. OSU Quarterback Brandon Weeden
vs. OU Safeties Jonathan Nelson and Quinton Carter
Oklahoma has a defensive reputation of using its jumbo safeties to come into the box and play smashmouth with opposing team's running game. That is the tradition of players like Roy Williams, Nic Harris, Brian Jackson, etc.

Brandon Weeden has really progressed this season at managing the game on offense and that means sometimes using your skills, and for most quarterbacks their eyes to influence defenders and get them to go where you want them and where they can't make the play. Weeden has shown that ability in several situations this season and it will come in handy on Saturday.

OU should use a lot of man and man/zone coverage in order to get one or both safeties in the box against the Oklahoma State offense depending on the formation. Weeden's eyes need to lead the Sooners to the wrong places while landing in the right place for the Cowboys to connect for big plays. Weeden has done some of that all season but it will help if his eyes will work overtime as both a decoy and a scope for his aerials.
Edge: Edge to Brandon Weeden

PREDICTION
Honestly, I think the game will be close for most of the four quarters. That's provided it doesn't get sideways because of turnovers, and I don't think it will because both teams are solid in the turnover margin statistic and both teams have done a good job lately of protecting the football.

I think the team that is able to run for more yards with a controlling type of offense and the team with the most explosive plays (20 or more yards) will win the game.

When OU is outrushed by an opponent it is 4-2 this season. When the Sooners outrush an opponent they are 5-0. Oklahoma State is 3-1 in games where it was outrushed and none were by many yards. In games where the Cowboys outrushed the opposing team they are 7-0.

It's a trend, although not an overwelming one. I'm talking about outrushing the other team by 40 yards or so and then combine that with two or three more explosive plays and now you are talking.

The other area that deserves mention is special teams. Both team have good punters, but Oklahoma State has a decided advantage in the area of field goals and kickoffs. Oklahoma State is two yards better on punt returns and OU is roughly a yard better on kickoff returns.

Oklahoma State has the more explosive offensive skill players and the better offensive line to rush the football and in the end my thought is that allows the Cowboyus to pull away just a little and prepare to pack their bags for Dallas and the Big 12 Championship.

No. 9 Oklahoma State 38, No. 13 Oklahoma 28

Big 12 Predictions
No. 18 Texas A&M 24 , @ Texas 21

Colorado 17, @ No. 15 Nebraska 13

No. 16 Missouri 46, Kansas 10 (@ Kansas City)

Kansas State 54, @ North Texas 14

@ Texas Tech 42, Houston 23

Robert Allen's record for the season:
Straight Up: 66-23
Against the Spread: 43-36
Not all games have a spread. Games with Big 12 teams involving FCS teams do not have spreads.


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