Saturday's game has a really good chance of being a repeat of the last road trip for the Jayhawks. To help brace ourselves for that, I spoke with Jack Shields over at Crimson and Cream Machine, the SB Nation site covering the Oklahoma Sooners. He was kind enough to answer a few questions for us.
RCT: Oklahoma came into this season with such high expectations, and immediately fell flat, losing to both Houston and Ohio State in convincingly bad fashion. Given how well Baylor and West Virginia have played to start the season, has this changed expectations for the season? Do you still expect this team to win the conference? Any chance the Sooners sneak into the CFP?
C&CM: This team still should win the conference this season, in all honesty. Baylor obviously has some talent on offense, but the Bears haven’t looked great and haven’t really played anybody. West Virginia looks like a very good team, but Skyler Howard isn’t the type of quarterback that really gives Mike Stoops fits. I think the expectation of winning a conference championship is still a reasonable one, considering how weak the conference is this year. As far as the CFP is concerned, OU is done. I don’t think a two-loss Big 12 team gets in over a two loss team from another league.
RCT: What is going on with this defense? I understand that they lost some pretty important players from the conference-leading group from last year, but this plunge seems very uncharacteristic for a Bob Stoops coached team.
C&CM: Mike Stoops has been the primary scapegoat throughout all of this. We regularly see 10-yard pre-snap cushions from the corners, which is something that makes my stomach turn. He often fails to make in-game adjustments, and his secondary is regularly confused by what they see or are simply out of position. The injuries certainly hurt, but there are plenty more issues with this defense.
RCT: Obviously everyone has heard of Baker Mayfield, but what other players from this phenomenal offense aren’t getting the recognition they deserve? Who else should we be on the lookout for this Saturday?
C&CM: The receivers have stepped up their game in Big 12 play, and not just Dede Westbrook (who has been on fire in conference play). Grad transfer Geno Lewis is starting to make some plays. Walk-on Nick Basquine has shown great catching and route-running ability. Young guys like Dahu Green and A.D. Miller are starting to come into their own. Basically, receivers not named Dede Westbrook or Mark Andrews are guys to look out for.
RCT: Got to sneak in a basketball question. With Buddy Hield, Ryan Spangler and Isaiah Cousins all gone, who does the team turn to trying to finish in the top half of the conference this year? Where do you ultimately see them finishing?
C&CM: Jordan Woodard has moved back to point guard this season, and he’ll be relied upon as the primary playmaker on offense this year. Khadeem Lattin has supposedly stepped up his offensive game, but I’ll believe it when I see it. Regardless, he’ll be a defensive force around the rim, as was the case last year. The Sooners will be relying on promising underclassmen to shoulder the rest of the load this year. Freshman Kristian Doolittle (a graduate of Edmond Memorial, which is Bill Self’s high school) will be starting at the 4-spot this year, so he’ll be someone to keep an eye on. I see this team possibly struggling early, but this is a very long and athletic squad. If they can figure themselves out, I see them finishing fifth in the Big 12 and making the big dance. They’ll be back to being nationally competitive in 2017-18, especially if they can secure the services of Norman’s own Trae Young.
RCT: Prediction Time! While we all know that Kansas isn’t winning this thing, what do you see the final score being? What is the longest play of the game and who gets it? Which Oklahoma bench player has a random monster game?
C&CM: The line has been hovering around 40 all week, and I see Kansas beating the spread by just a hair. I’ll say OU wins by a score of 52-17. The longest play of the game will be a bomb to Dede Westbrook, because that’s been happening a lot lately. I’ll say it goes for 72 yards. Linebacker Curtis Bolton will have a random monster game. He’ll probably be out there for the majority of the second half and part of the first half, and I predict he finishes with double-digit tackles.
RCT: BONUS - Which would you prefer, a personal chef or a personal assistant?
C&CM: I’d have to go with personal chef. I’m not very organized and could probably use a personal assistant, but my priorities are out of order.
Again, a big thanks to Jack. Don't forget to check out the questions I answered for him as well.