Bedlam: Three Key Matchups

NORMAN, Okla. — There are a number of studs all over the field in this weekend's Bedlam contest between OU and Oklahoma State, but just where are the most important battles? Sooners Illustrated breaks it down right here.

1. Justin Blackmon against OU's secondary-Some opponents this year have made it a nightmare for OU's secondary. In its two losses, OU was torched by Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege and Baylor signal caller Robert Griffin for a combined 920 yards and eight touchdowns. Tech wide receiver Alex Torres broke free for 94 yards and three TDs on four receptions, while Baylor's Kendall Wright really busted the door down in the Sooner secondary for 208 yards and a touchdown on eight catches. Blackmon already has more than 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Cowboys and he can wreak absolute havoc if the same OU defensive backfield as those two games shows up. Corners Demontre Hurst and Jamell Fleming and safeties Aaron Colvin, Sam Proctor and Javon Harris will really have to tighten it up back there to make sure Blackmon is held in check. One encouraging sign for the Sooners is their passing efficiency defense, which ranks 30th in the nation at an 118.09 opponent rating despite allowing 246 yards per game, 87th best in the country.

2. OU's D-Line vs. OSU's offensive line--The Sooners are tied for third in the country with 37 sacks--that's four more than LSU and 12 more than Alabama--while the Cowboys rank 15th in the nation allowing just a sack a game. So, both sides are stellar up front. But OU will again have to do it without starting defensive end Ronnell Lewis. Fellow defensive end Frank Alexander, who has a team-leading 18 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks, must again anchor the unit in order to get pressure on OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden. Force him out of the pocket with any kind of consistency, and the Sooners should be in good shape. Allow him to sit back there all day, and he'll pick OU apart. That's the goal for OSU's big boys in the trenches.

3. The Sooner running backs vs. OSU's defense--Oklahoma State ranks just 93rd in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 186.64 yards per game on the ground. They've surrendered 20 rushing touchdowns this season. The Sooners, meanwhile, are middle of the pack in rushing offense, managing 172.36 yards per game, good for 41st in the FBS, as well as 26 touchdowns. But they really have an opportunity to exploit a major weakness in the Cowboys' defense should they get the ground game going. Running backs Roy Finch and Brandon Williams will split the duties, with Finch taking the bulk of the snaps since Dominique Whaley's injury and Williams coming on as of late. Finch has rushed for 536 yards and three touchdowns, while Williams is yet to record his first career touchdown but has 209 yards. They'll need to have a big game in order to wear that Oklahoma State defense down.

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