Oklahoma had a difficult beginning to the season, losing to TCU (who then lost to SMU), and barely beating Tulsa (closer than the final score indicates). Here's what CFN had to say about Oklahoma after the Tulsa game:
and after TCU:
Here's a few tidbits from The Oklahoman
Key things: OU fumbled four times against Tulsa, and Offensive Co- coordinator Chuck Long said OU's plan was to play for the entire game, which he did.
Some of the fumbles can be attributed to the fact that OU has a new center.
Bomar did not attempt a pass in the second half, and he expects to start for the rest of the year.
Should we stick a fork in the Sooners?
Before the season, CFN noted:
Don't start weeping for poor Bob Stoops and the boys just yet.
This is still one of the nation's most athletic teams with a world of talent led by running back Adrian Peterson and soon-to-be first round NFL draft pick Davin Joseph at tackle. With all due respect to White, the quarterback situation is even more exciting with mobile, all-around threats like Rhett Bomar and Paul Thompson waiting to shine. The defensive front seven doesn't have the all-stars of the past few years, but it's still rock solid. Even the areas of concern aren't all that bad compared to the rest of college football world.
Was CFN right before the season? Or were those expressing concern correct? Incidentally, those "concerns" certainly didn't show up in the preseason polls. But now Oklahoma is in a tailspin. Still, Bob Stoops is a good coach, and a talented team like OU is always at its most dangerous when it has its back agaisnt the wall.
However, given that Bruins have dominated admittedly inferior competition, while OU has lost and barely beat inferior competition, has suffered off-the-field distractions, and that the Bruins are now favored by a touchdown, we think that not only should the Bruins win this game, but the Bruins must win this game.
But back to previewing the Sooners.
One key will be the QB play of Rhett Bomar. Bomar is talented, and was highly recruited in his own right. However, he's struggled in the first ttwo games, as is to be expected of a redshirt freshman. Here's what CFN had to say about Bomar before the season:
It's worth noting that while Bomar is certainly talented, it's much more difficult to come in and play quarterback right away. We all remember that it wasn't until Cade McNown's third year that he became, you know, Cade McNown. So Bomar is dangerous, but he hasn't been able to live up to his potential yet. Bomar has the ability to make big plays, but as an inexperienced QB, he's also liable to make mistakes.
The Bruins are almost certain to stack the box in an attempt to stop Peterson, and conventional wisdom says that you blitz a young quarterback. This is supposed to increase the pressure on the young QB, hopefully increasing the likelihood of his throwing a pick. However, the danger of this strategy is that the young QB will step up and make plays.
George Schroeder of The Oklahoman makes a similar point about Bomar's inexperience:
"I believe he'll get better as the year goes," Long said. "But there's gonna be some growing pains. It's gonna happen. But we'll live through it."
Here's CFN's take on the guys Bomar will be throwing to:
The real story, we think, is the offensive line. The Bruins still have a big question mark on the defensive line, one that wasn't exactly answered even in demolitions of SDSU and Rice. What of OU's OL?
Here's Justin Harper noting that a number of freshmen are contributing to Oklahoma's OL. Two man-mountains in particular are stepping up:
Saturday, in a 31-15 victory over Tulsa, freshmen George "Duke" Robinson and Branndon Braxton went from being the tackles of the future to being the solution of the present.
"We've got a long way to go with those guys, but I thought it was a positive week and the direction we need to move in," said OU offensive line coach Kevin Wilson
"It's something we can build on."
Good foundations to build on. Braxton goes 6-6, 328 pounds. He's the small one. Robinson is 6-6, 360. Both played major roles Saturday as Peterson rushed for 220 yards.
"That was encouraging," said OU coach Bob Stoops. "Those guys, with the limited time they've been here, came out and played hard, they were physical. They've got some extra size to them, that helps. And I like their attitude."
Running behind these behemoths is All-Everything Adrian Peterson.
OU's co-offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson says of workhorse Peterson:
Against Tulsa, Peterson rushed for 220 yards, 180 of them in the second half, carried the ball 19 times in the second half (out of 28 OU offensive plays from scrimmage), and personally accounted for more than 85 percent of the Sooners' offensive yardage.
In fact, Stoops believes Peterson is capable of up to 40 touches per game, including receptions.
Don't miss this juicy bit of tinfoil-hat speculation:
This game should be can UCLA's defense stop the Sooners. But can the Sooners stop the Bruins on defense?
Again, the Sooners have talent, but have lost a lot of good players, and the question is whether the talented athletes can form a cohesive defensive whole.
OU's DL was filled with dominating and speedy playmakers in past years. The line has lost some players, but still has some players:
OU's secondary wasn't as dominating as in past years, allowing over 200 yards per game and 15 touchdown passes.
Good news for Marcedes Lewis? The early returns on OU's pass defense suggest that Lewis may be able to run wild against the Sooners (if Karl doesn't forget about him). Tulsa TE Garrett Mills caught 13 passes for 152 yards.
In conclusion, the Sooners have serious question marks at QB, OL, DB, and WR.
In looking at the matchups, the OL question marks are fortuitous for the Bruins, as DL is a serious issue.
The Bruins' secondary was a question in the minds of many beginning the season, and although SDSU had limited success, the DBs have largely played well. The matchups look favorable here for the Bruins defense, if the assumed gameplan of stacking the box and stopping Peterson is successful.
The Bruins should also use Marcedes Lewis heavilly, which should in turn open up the running game. The Bruins should also take some deep shots down the field. While Drew Olson and the WRs finally got into the action against Rice, Oklahoma will obviously be more of a challenge, even with question marks.
Still, the matchups are favorable, the Sooners are reeling, and Karl Dorrell needs to take advantage of this opportunity.
The Bruins can and should win this game. A win will go a long way to Karl Dorrell and the Bruins proving themselves. A loss will confirm our worst fears.
This is a must-win game.