OSU vs. OU: Matchups & Predictions

For the second time in three years Oklahoma State has the opportunity to win the Big 12 Championship and earn a berth in the Fiesta Bowl. This time there is a slight difference as the team challenging OSU is not joining the Cowboys on the field Saturday. In the Big 12's final weekend, the Cowboys play Bedlam rival Oklahoma with the Sooners in the role of being a talented spoiler.

It's Texas and Baylor playing the final game in old Floyd Casey Stadium, and both teams and their fans are pulling for Oklahoma and hoping to have the title all to themselves. An OSU win in Bedlam means the Bears and Longhorns have those secondary bragging rights that add up to a trophy, but the knowledge that the real champion beat you in the playoff run of November.

It's very simple for the Cowboys, they have put a lot of work into this by beating three ranked teams in November, and two of them on the road.

Now it's time to beat Oklahoma and claim the title that was predicted in July, worked for in August, thought had slipped away in September, and was earned one week at a time in October and November with the nation's current fifth longest winning streak of seven games.

The Cowboys have lived up to their 2013 season theme, "relentless" and now it's time to call back a previous theme and live it, "finish."

Bedlam Matchups
OSU Offensive Line vs. OU Defensive Line
The Cowboys offensive line was really stabilized from the TCU game on as first Brandon Garrett jumped in at right tackle allowing Parker Graham to move to right guard and beef up that side of the line and then later Chris Grisbhy moved into the right tackle position and his physical and athletic play kicked the line play up another notch. They have only allowed five sacks in the six games since the fix. The run game has been better too, averaging 190 yards a game rushing the ball.

Oklahoma is opportunistic on the defensive line with defensive Charles Tapper leading the way with 41 tackles, eight tackles for loss, and 4.5 sacks. Chuka Ndulue is a tackle that makes a good number of plays and Geneo Grissom at defensive end has 37 tackles. This will be a good battle, but I expect the Oklahoma State offensive line to be controlling here.

Advantage: Too Close to Call

OSU Running Backs vs. OU Run Defense

Several teams have successfully run the ball on Oklahoma including Texas and Baylor. Both of those teams have running backs more celebrated than Oklahoma State, but the OSU offensive line rates with both Texas and Baylor.

It will help that Desmond Roland is healthy and Jeremy Smith gained some bounce back in his step and confidence in the Baylor game. This matchup doesn't have to be a massive win unless the field is icy. In that case the run game may be all she wrote. Simply outgaining OU in rushing needs to be the goal and OU is a good run team, so that is a challenge.

Advantage: Too Close to Call

OSU Receivers vs. OU Secondary
For OSU, the strength is in the numbers as they can come at you in waves with Charlie Moore, Tracy Moore, Jhajuan Seales, Marcell Ateman, Brandon Sheperd, and now a closer to full speed Josh Stewart. If the conditions are just cold and the track is clear and the wind is mild then this group could have their usual difference-making performance.

Oklahoma has a stellar corner in Aaron Colvin, but he is playing hurt. Zach Sanchez has been hot and cold, and when he is cold, he can get beat a bunch. The safeties -- Gabe Lynn, Julian Wilson, and Quentin Hayes -- are solid but have been victimized like at Kansas State giving up 348 passing yards but in conference play they are second in the league in pass defense.

Advantage: Slight to OSU Receivers

OSU Quarterback Clint Chelf vs. OU Free Safety Gabe Lynn

Chelf is finally a veteran making his 12th start, close to a complete season, but he has been through so much and he has kept his chin up throughout it all.

He is definitely playing the best football of his career right now, and the Baylor game was outstanding for what he did and even more so for what he didn't do. Chelf did not turn the ball over even once. If he repeats that and has an average game in every other aspect then the Cowboys likely win.

Lynn has moved around a little bit and without a lot of experience at linebacker will likely be the player responsible for getting OU out of bad situations on defense with adjustments.

Advantage: OSU Quarterback Clint Chelf

OSU Defensive Line vs. OU Offensive Line

Here's the matchup that might be worth the price of a ticket. There is no doubt that Gabe Ikard is the best center in the Big 12 and Calvin Barnett is one of the best defensive tackles. James Castleman is not bad either and now we get to see Ikard vs. Barnett and Ikard vs. Castleman.

What will hurt is the reports that left tackle Tyrus Thompson is out, meaning 6-9, 325-pound Derek Farniok will be the starter. That could really hurt the Sooners as OSU senior defensive end Tyler Johnson is playing really well right now, as are Sam Wren, Jimmy Bean and Emmanuel Ogbah.

Advantage: OSU Defensive Line

OSU Run Defense vs. OU Running Backs

Brennan Clay had a monster game at Kansas State. He is solid at 5-11, 201 pounds and possesses good speed. Roy Finch is another good back. But the Sooners really miss All-Big 12 fullback Trey Millard, who went down with an ACL injury against Texas Tech. Millard is a definite difference maker. OU has needed two players to replace his role in the offense.

The Cowboys top the Big 12 in run defense and held the vaunted rushing attacks of Texas and Baylor to season lows. The X-factor here is the quarterback run game with Trevor Knight, who will use the read zone game and also bounce around with quarterback draws and keepers. As we have said before, when the quarterback runs the numbers even up.

Advantage: Slight to OSU Run Defense

OSU Secondary vs. OU Wide Receivers

This may be a decent challenge as Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard aren't big but they are very fast and talented. The Cowboys can cover with Justin Gilbert, who is healthy and ready to go, Kevin Peterson, Tyler Patmon and Ashton Lampkin.

Oklahoma State is one of the top defenses in the nation with 19 interceptions. Knight has a decent arm, but is still inexperienced enough that he can really be bothered by pressure. That and the cold for a San Antonio native at quarterback could be a bad scenario for Oklahoma.

Advantage: OSU Secondary

OSU Middle Linebacker Caleb Lavey vs. OU Quarterback Trevor Knight

This is a mismatch. It is nothing against Knight as a quarterback in just his fourth start can't be expected to match up with a four-year starting linebacker that is a real student of the game and thrives on making adjustments and putting his defensive teammates in the right positions to make plays on top of making plenty of plays himself. My guess is that at some point, Lavey will do something mentally that gives OSU a home run play on defense.
Advantage: Huge to OSU Middle Linebacker Caleb Lavey

OSU Special Teams vs. OU Special Teams

We will lump all the special teams together to make it pretty simple. Starting with field goals there is no contest as Michael Hunnicutt is one of the most experienced kickers in the conference and one of the most talented. He has a big edge on OSU freshman Ben Grogan.

OU punter Jed Barnett has a bigger average than OSU punter Kip Smith, but Smith's punts don't get returned (opponents average 1.2 on returns). OU is giving up 5.5 yards per punt return and with Josh Stewart returning for the Cowboys and leading the league and speedster Jalen Saunders returning for Oklahoma, that matchup is major.

Saunders had a return for a score last season against the Cowboys, and a momentum-changing return against Iowa State earlier this season. In both cases the punter outkicked his coverage. Smith normally doesn't outkick his coverage and gets great hang time.

OSU also leads the conference in kickoff coverage and Justin Gilbert is one of the best kickoff return specialists in the country. Cowboys win in about every area other than field goals.

Advantage: OSU Special Teams

Bedlam Prediction
I understand the weather could play a major role, but I think it will just be brutally cold. The wind won't be awful, except in mixture with the temperature, and the moisture won't be on the field.

Weather problems or not, this late in the season I think you have to go with the best defense to win the game. Oklahoma State is the better defense and the numbers back that up in turnover margin (critical), opponents third down conversions, run defense, and red zone defense.

Texas scored 13 points on the Cowboy defense in Austin, Baylor only could get 17 points on the OSU defense in Stillwater (both season lows), and that's why I believe OU will be held to a season-low 10 points. The OSU defense and the cold weather won't be conducive to scoring a lot of point anyway.

The Cowboys' 28 points will be well below their conference average of 39.6 points a game. The defense or special teams might be responsible for one of those touchdowns.

No. 6 Oklahoma State 28, No. 15 Oklahoma 10

Big 12 Predictions
(Rankings are from USA Today/Coaches Poll)
No. 7 Baylor 27, No. 24 Texas 21
The last game for Baylor in Floyd Casey Stadium and Texas is there for it. Baylor is not the same team as before losing in Stillwater, but even on an icy field they will be winners at home and finish 11-1 overall and 8-1 in the Big 12.

Last Week
Texas 35, Texas Tech 28
Actual Score: Texas 41, Texas Tech 16

Kansas State 41, Kansas 3
Actual Score: Kansas State 31, Kansas 10

Baylor 45, TCU 20
Actual Score: Baylor 41, TCU 38

West Virginia 31, Iowa State 28
Actual Score: Iowa State 52, West Virginia 44 (3OT)

Last Week - Straight Up: 3-1 Against the Spread: 3-1
All Season - Straight Up: 58-14 Against the Spread: 34-29

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