Bedlam: Key Matchups & Prediction

Robert Allen's key matchups and prediction for Saturday's Bedlam showdown between the 11th-ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Oklahoma Sooners. Kickoff is scheduled for 11:40 a.m. (Central Time).

Call this the topsy-turvy version of Bedlam, or a major case of role reversal. It feels great to be a Cowboy fan in this one but that feeling won't be complete without a victory.

By the way, interesting misinformation going around as talk out of OU media outlets is that Oklahoma State returned some of its ticket allotment. But OSU athletic director Mike Holder says that's not true as the Cowboys sold all 4,000 of their ticket allotment.

I know that a number of Oklahoma State fans don't like going to Norman, and vice versa in even years for OU fans, but Oklahoma State fans can't refuse the opportunity. There is no doubt that OU is a much different team at home but Oklahoma State has become a much better team outside of Stillwater.

The old football saying, "defense travels" actually seems to hold true much of the time. The crowd could be a factor, but the senior-loaded Cowboys love a good, loud, hostile crowd and relish the opportunity to quiet them down.

The implications here, BCS bowl, 10-win regular season, and seven-win conference campaign all are so important to the OSU seniors and the team as a whole. The main key here is Cowboys playing comfortable and confident against a team they have struggled at times with being confident and comfortable against. We should see how that plays out very early.

OU is fragile after the debacle in Lubbock last week. OSU jumps out early and then OU suffers from a real inferiority complex. Add to that the rabid Sooner fans that in time of trouble will canabalize their own.

1. OSU guards Lane Taylor and Noah Franklin and center Andrew Lewis
vs. OU defensive tackles Gerald McCoy and Adrian Taylor
There is the greatest respect among the Cowobys for Gerald McCoy. Next to Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh, he is the best defensive tackle in the nation, and if not for Suh might be a Heisman Trophy candidate himself. McCoy has become the heart and soul of the Sooners and will be playing his final game at home before heading to the NFL.

OSU gets a potential break as Taylor, who is very underrated and benefits from playing alongside McCoy, is gimpy. Those two on an average Saturday can dominate an opposing offense. The Cowboy offensive line is good, maybe the best in the Big 12. Lane Taylor has gone from an after thought to being a future star at offensive guard. Noah Franklin is tough and won't back down and I think Andrew Lewis is heading off to an NFL career.

This matchup not only could determine the game and whether OSU can successfully run the football but it will be worth watching. Consider this an little cage fight in the trenches. It will be violent and physical.

It was possible to call this even but if Adrian Taylor is close to 100 percent the edge has to go to OU, but it is not overwhelming. An important sidenote, Keith Toston will have his usual day, hopefully Kendall Hunter will break a few big plays and he is due. It is imperative that quarterback Zac Robinson not be gun shy and be ready to take off and run aggressively while looking to protect himself (slide and out of bounds) at the end of the run.

Edge: Oklahoma

2. OSU wide receivers vs. OU secondary
A few weeks ago the Cowboys wide receivers were seriously pushed around, jammed in press coverage, and knocked off their routes by the bigger, stronger, more physical, and more confident Texas defensive backs. What Curtis Brown did to Dameron Fooks on the first interception by the Longhorns is considered assault in all 50 states. On the football field it is legal and applauded.

OU with Dominique Franks, Brian Jackson, Quinton Carter, and company is good. They are big and physical, but not as good as Texas. OSU's Hubert Anyiam, Justin Blackmon, DeMarcus Conner, Tracy Moore, and Fooks along with Josh Cooper, who is back from injury, should have worked on being more physical, more explosive against press and man coverage since the Texas loss.

They will get to prove it Saturday as I would be shocked if OU didn't give the Cowboys a steady diet of that and their multiple blitzing up front. The receivers and Zac Robinson have the task of making OU pay for the gambles. I almost included the OSU defensive line vs. the OU offensive line as one of the key matchups. It is important, but how about this? Listen up! I would have never expected to write this back in August but I expect OSU's defensive line to win that battle and win it impressively.

Edge: Even

3. OSU cornerbacks vs. OU wide receiver Ryan Broyles
Oklahoma doesn't have many sluggers on offense that can make the home run happen, but Broyles is a big-time home-run guy. The Cowboys have done a great job of keeping guys like that in check and Perrish Cox, Terrance Anderson and lately Andrew McGee have been good at defending passes and really good at making tackles and limiting wide receivers to short gains. They must continue that. One Broyles home run can turn the momentum and this game around.

Edge: Oklahoma State

PREDCITION I don't like to respect Oklahoma, and when you have the opportunity to poke at them like in this season with a 6-5 record and 4-3 in conference it is a true joy for a Cowboy fan. However, you must respect the Sooners and you had better hope that your team doe. You can still respect them but also confidence that you can win these matchups and beat Oklahoma. The stakes are high but Bob Stoops and his staff, Gerald McCoy and his teammates all have tremendous pride. This Oklahoma State team has been as focused and business like a group as you would want all season. This week has not been any different. It will be close, it will be a fight, but the Cowboys have learned to finish these type of challenges and they will again. OSU leads most of the day and finishes by holding off OU 31-24.

Big 12 Predictions
This Week's Games
Texas 35, @Texas A&M 20
Nebraska 17, @Colorado 16
Oklahoma State 31, @Oklahoma 24
Kansas 28, Missouri 27 @Kansas City
Texas Tech 48, Baylor 10 @Arlington

Last Week's Games
@Oklahoma State 35, Colorado 10
Oklahoma 17, @Texas Tech 14
@Texas 41, Kansas 20
@Missouri 31, Iowa State 20
@Texas A&M 28, Baylor 27
@Nebraska 30, Kansas State 21

Season Record
Straight: 72-25
ATS: 49-36-1
Note: Games that involved FCS teams did not have lines

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