SoonersIllustrated.com is going to set the stage every week, breaking down Oklahoma’s upcoming game during the 2014 season.
When: 2:30 p.m.
Biggest question - - What statement will the defense make?
The secondary is ranked in the top 10 in the nation in yards allowed per game. The Sooners are eighth in the country in sacks, averaging 3.5 per game. The run defense is giving up just 158.8 yards on the ground per contest. It’s been a good first half of the season for a defense that struggled last year.
But this game is about proving those numbers. Oklahoma hasn’t played a prolific offense yet this season outside of Tulsa. At least not one the likes of which they’ll see in four of the final six games of the season.
Oklahoma has to prove to everyone that it can defend elite spread offenses and maybe exorcise its nightmares from last season.
An educated guess: Baker Mayfield gets too hyped for this game – and it looks surprisingly like last season’s game between the two teams in Lubbock, when Oklahoma fell behind early.
That can mean two things. No. 1: Mayfield commits two first-half turnovers, and Oklahoma trails early with the defense left defending field position. No. 2: Oklahoma’s receivers are running free the way the Red Raiders were last year, and Mayfield is picking apart Texas Tech in the ultimate revenge game.
The two teams do finish with more than 800 combined yards of total offense.
Player to watch
You have to throw Frank Shannon into this mix. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops made it crystal clear earlier this month that Shannon is somebody who can only play in the middle, no chance of playing outside. Does he still have that game speed? Explosiveness? This most likely will be his final OU start in Norman so what does he do to make it count? (Przybylo)
Hite – Mayfield wants this one bad and gets what he wants. The defense shows its good but not great – forcing three turnovers but allowing more than 400 yards of total offense. Mayfield scores four times, three on the ground and once through the air, and eclipses 300 yards in the air. But it’s Samaje Perine who bolsters Oklahoma. Perine goes over 120 yards on the ground and seals a shootout late for the Sooners. The Sooners walk away feeling pretty good, 45-34.
Przybylo - The key is simple - to force turnovers against Tech. Patrick Mahomes is going to get his, no other way really around that. But if he drops the ball or forces a throw, Sooners have to capitalize. Looking for another big game from Dede Westbrook as OU continues to find ways to get him more involved in the offense. OU won't cover the spread but that doesn't matter in a 42-33 victory.