Oklahoma's Keys to College Station

Former Sooner linebacker Torrance Marshall returns an interception 32 yards during the Sooners only win at Texas A&M in 2000. The Sooners are 1-5 overall in their history against the Aggies in College Station. See inside for the Sooners' keys to beating A&M on Saturday. (AP Photo/J.Pat Carter)

In six trips to College Station, Oklahoma has managed to win one time. That triumph, of course, came during the 2000 national championship run and Bob Stoops needed every ounce of "Sooner Magic" — via two late defensive stands — to get out of town with a win.

If the Sooners expect to play for another national championship this football season then they are going to have to find a way to beat the 12th man and win at Kyle Field. That is never an easy task.

But Stoops' squad will have a few things working in its favor on Saturday:

1. The knowledge that A&M has the ability to win the game. Even with the Aggies meltdown against Baylor last weekend, the Sooners are well aware their hosts have shown tremendous improvement during the 2004 season. No way does OU take the Aggies lightly, especially with the memory of QB Reggie McNeal's big day from 2002 still lingering.

2. The OU secondary will be out to prove all of the critics wrong in this game. Coming off of a less-than-stellar performance vs. OSU last weekend, the Sooners are determined to shut the Aggies offense down by pressuring it into committing turnovers and mistakes. You can bet Venables and Pelini have worked on a game plan devised to pressure the QB.

3. A&M's defense went south last week, but the presence of the 12th man will no doubt serve as inspiration on Saturday. That's a hurdle the Sooners must deal with all afternoon, and the best way to take the crowd out of the game will be to produce big plays in both the passing and ground games. The offfensive line will play its usual major role, which puts the spotlight squarely on the shoulders of Adrian Peterson and Jason White. Expect both to have big games, knowing a win moves them one step closer to the Big 12 title game and beyond.

4. Special teams play. Oh my, this has been a sore spot for the Sooners the last few weeks and you better believe Coach Stoops has "emphasized" better play from every member of his special teams units. THIS WILL BE A HUGE KEY TO A WIN ON SATURDAY. Look for a near perfect effort from the Sooners.

5. First possession success. Last season, the OU offense scored on almost every opening possession of every game. That always set the tone. This season, the Sooners have experienced much less success in the early going. In a hostile enviroment like Kyle Field, it is critical to quiet the crowd by putting your best foot forward as early as possible. First-quarter possessions could be the key to success Saturday.

There is obviously a much longer list of keys to success than this, but these are things the Sooners can not afford not to do against A&M.

A win Saturday doesn't guarantee anything, but it sure makes the road ahead look a lot less formidable.


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