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Sooners need to make a statement in Stillwater

November 28, 2019 ▪ By Ray Dozier

Three of college football's most dynamic players will be featured on the same gridiron Saturday (7 p.m. FOX) when No. 7 Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) meets No. 21 Oklahoma State (8-3, 5-3) in Stillwater.

OU quarterback Jalen Hurts and receiver Cee Dee Lamb, and OSU running back Chuba Hubbard lead the nation or are near the top in statistical categories, and finalists for national awards.

Hurts was named a finalist for the Maxwell Award for the Collegiate Player of the Year and the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, and Lamb is a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award.

Hurts is one of only three players in FBS history to register at least 3,000 passing yards (3,184) and 1,000 rushing yards (1,156) 11 games into a season. He currently leads the nation with 11.8 yards per passing attempt and is third with a 203.1 QB rating.

Lamb is third nationally with 14 receiving touchdowns and 21.7 yards per catch. He ranks 13th in the country with his 99.9 receiving yards per game despite ranking 87th with just 4.6 catches per contest.

Hubbard leads the FBS in rushing yards (1,832), rushing yards per game (166.55), all-purpose yards (2,044), and all-purpose yards per game (185.8).

OU and OSU are riding winning streaks this year. The Pokes have won four straight, most recently a 20-13 victory over West Virginia on the road. The Mountaineers kicked a field goal to break a 10-10 deadlock late in the third quarter. O-State scored 10 unanswered points in the fourth frame.

WVU drove from its 25 to the OSU 19, but two incomplete passes ended the Mountaineers chance to tie the game, and the Cowboys held on. The Pokes had their lowest offensive output this year with 285 yards.

The Sooners had their best defensive performance of the season in a 28-24 won over TCU last weekend for their third straight win and 400th victory on Owen Field. The win gives Oklahoma its 10th appearance in the Big 12 Championship game on December 7.

They held the Horned Frogs to 204 total yards. But, OU still had a problem of not putting the pedal to the metal when it rolled to a 21-0 lead in the first 17 minutes of action.

The Frogs scored 17 unanswered points to trail 21-17 with 10:15 to go in the third quarter. Oklahoma answered with a 66-yard drive to make it 28-17. The Sooners left 14 possible points in the field when Jalen Hurts threw an interception and lost a fumble in the fourth period. The Frogs intercepted his pass at the TCU 2 and returned it back for a score. TCU recovered Hurts' fumble at its 7-yard line on the next Sooners' possession.

Hurts still had another outstanding game by rushing for 173 yards and 2 TDs and completing 11 of 21 for 145 yards and 2 scores. Kennedy Brooks added 149 yards on the ground as the Sooners went to a power running game and rolled up 366 yards.

The defense held the Frogs to 65 through the air and 139 rushing. TCU QB Max Duggan squirted loose for a 62-yard run for the Frogs' longest play of the game from scrimmage. LB Kenneth Murray led the defense with 9 tackles, including 2.5 for loss and half a sack.

OSU QB Dru Brown was steady in his first start replacing Spencer Sanders last Saturday. Brown was 22 of 29 for 196 yards and 2 TDs. Hubbard ran for 106 yards and led the Pokes with 7 receptions for 88 yards.

OSU has averaged 35.0 points (No. 22) and 475.6 (No. 13) yards per game this year. Tylan Wallace, the Pokes' dangerous weapon at wide receiver, has missed three games to injury. Dillon Stoner leads the active players with 41 catches for 537 yards and 5 TDs.

O-State's defense has allowed 26.4 points (No. 57) and 415.2 (No. 80) in 2019.

In the last four games, the Cowboys' defense has forced 10 turnovers and held opponents to an average of 20 points per outing. Linebacker Malcolm Rodriguez leads OSU with 83 stops, 6.5 for loss, forced a fumble and recovered another. LB Amen Ogbongbemiga has logged 80 tackles, 14.5 behind the line, including 3.5 sacks.

Safety Kolby Harvell-Peel ranks third nationally in passes defended (18), fifth with 5 interceptions this season. His six pass breakups at Iowa State set an OSU single-game record.

The Sooners continue to lead the country in total offense (574.7 ypg) and fourth (45.3 ppg) in scoring. The defense ranks No. 54 in points (25.5) and No. 31 in yards (336.2) allowed, and tops in the conference in total defense. A significant improvement compared to last year—yielding an average of 7.8 points and 117.6 yards per game less than in 2018.

Linebacker Caleb Kelly has returned to OU's D, and he provides needed depth to the lineup. But, the defense must play with discipline. The Sooners need to keep Hubbard from scampering for long yards. The front seven must confuse Brown into making mistakes with blitzes and stunts.

Oklahoma's offense must maintain a balance of run and pass and dial up lots of play-action plays, which should allow Lamb and other receivers to roam free about the Pokes' secondary. Hurts, who's had six turnovers in the last three games, must take care of the ball.

The Sooners' last four games have been decided in the waning minutes. Last year's Bedlam was decided late as OU prevailed 48-47 in Norman. Tre Brown swatted down Taylor Cornelius' two- point pass to thwart an O-State upset. Oklahoma QB Kyler Murray threw for 348 yards and one touchdown—to Marquise Brown, who had 8 receptions for 142 yards. Kennedy Brooks rambled for 165 yards (11 yards per carry) and scored three times. Trey Sermon rushed for 124 and OU's go-ahead touchdown with 3:29 to go. LB Kenneth Murray had 11 tackles and recovered a Cowboy fumble that led to Sermon's TD.

The Sooners need to make a statement for a bid to the College Football Playoffs. They finally bring their "A" game and put it all together on both sides of the ball.

Sooners 35, Cowboys 24.

Fast Facts

  • OU leads the series 88-18-7, including four straight victories.
  • OU leads 40-7-5 in Stillwater, including three straight wins.
  • OU is favored by 12.
  • Lincoln Riley's record: 34-5 (.872) overall; 2-0 vs. OSU; 11-1 on the road; 9-3 vs. ranked opponents; 24-3 vs. conference foes.
  • OSU coach Mike Gundy's record: 129-62 (.675); 2-12 vs. OU; 72-25 at home; 27-32 vs. ranked foes; 77-51 vs. conference opponents.
  • OU is 15-1 when both teams are ranked in the AP poll; 13-0 as the higher-ranked team.
  • OU is 9-4-1 in games played on November 30.
  • OSU is 2-8 in games played in November 30.
  • Both teams have met nine times on November 30; OU leads 7-2.
  • Both teams have met 60 times in the last game of the regular season; OU leads 50-9-1.

Articles by Ray Dozier