Unless you live in a cave, or Michigan, you probably know that the Buckeyes actually have something at stake in the Big XII Title Game. An Oklahoma win would almost certainly send the Buckeyes to a second consecutive BCS title game. A Missouri win will send them to a classic Rose Bowl match up against the USC Trojans. God, it is a great time to be a Buckeye fan. Personally, I would like to see the BCS Championship Game appearance, but who could be disappointed with that Rose Bowl? It would almost certainly be one of the marquee games of the bowl season.
In order to make the championship dreams of Buckeye fans come true the Buckeyes are going to need some help from Oklahoma Head Coach and former Ohioan Bob Stoops. Stoops has been impressive in big games (for the most part) and you have to like his chances to get his team ready to face the Tigers for a second time this season.
Oklahoma emerged from an early season game between the two teams, delivering Missouri their only loss to date this season, 41-31. The game was very competitive and Missouri actually held the lead late in the third before Oklahoma ripped off three unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Missouri would go on to put up a meaningless score with twelve seconds left in the game.
The scoring tells a story, but it does not tell the whole story. The game was an easy win for Oklahoma if you just look at the box score, but Missouri was able to move the ball well against the Sooners, putting up over 400 yards of offense (361 in the air). Oklahoma has got to be concerned about that while entering this rematch.
Here we go....
Introducing the Sooners:
Oklahoma features a balanced offensive attack, they will beat you on the ground or in the air. Sam Bradford has put incredible numbers this season, 2700 yards and 32/7 TD to Int ratio. I am sure that Buckeye fans are concerned about DeMarco Murray's dislocated knee cap, but fret not, his replacement, Allen Patrick, put up over 200 yards last week against Oklahoma St. and now leads the team in rushing with 840. Patrick is not as big or as physical as Murray, but he is very quick and hits the hole hard.
This is not one of Bob Stoops best efforts on the defensive side of the ball. The Sooners are terrific against the run, but they are rancid against the pass, ranking among the likes of UCLA and Purdue while allowing 233 yards through the air per game. The big problem has been Oklahoma's inability to consistently get pressure coupled with a weak secondary, so the Sooners corners are often caught in blitzes or are just flat out burnt by opposing receivers. I guess that is good news for Chase Daniel.
They have a pretty good quarterback, you may have heard of him, Chase Daniel. Daniel's numbers this year are just ridiculous. He has completing just over 70% of his passes for nearly 4,000 yards and has 33 touichdown passes against just 9 interceptions. That is pretty good. Daniel does a great job picking apart defenses with high percentage throws, but he is capable of hitting receivers down field. Mizzou will try to spread the Sooners out, like Texas Tech did, and beat them in the air, like Texas Tech did. The difference is that Oklahoma, with Sam Bradford under center will put up a lot of points on the Tigers.
Although the Tigers do average 330 yards per game through the air, they are not just a passing team. The Tigers will run the ball; they average 170 yards on the ground per game. I don't expect to see a lot of that today, but they did try to run the ball thirty times against Oklahoma the first time.
Now remember when I said that Oklahoma's pass defense is rancid? Well, Missouri's pass defense would have to see substantial improvement to play at the "rancid" level. Missouri's defense gives up 265 yards per game in the air and they are weak everywhere. Missouri can defend the run rather effectively, but why would you run the ball when they cannot defend the pass?
If I were a betting man:
I would take the Sooners -3. In the end, Missouri will be a nice story, but what this game will come down to who can actually stop their opponent. I have no confidence at all in Missouri's ability to stop what should be a very motivated Oklahoma team.