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Oklahoma Preview

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KU and OU hook up for the 109th time.

Oklahoma State v Oklahoma

What are we doing here? Why, oh why? Do we really have to?

Sigh.

I guess.

Kansas hits the road for the final time in 2018 to take on #6 Oklahoma. The Sooners and Jayhawks have matched up 108 times in the past, with OU winning 69% of the time (nice).

OU Schedule

W vs FAU, 63-14

W vs UCLA, 49-21

W @ ISU, 37-27

W vs Army, 28-21 OT

W vs BAY, 66-33

L vs TEX, 48-45

W @ TCU, 52-27

W vs KSU, 51-14

W @ TTU, 51-46

W vs OSU, 48-47

How They Rank

Following the conclusion of all the games from Week 11, Oklahoma is ranked #5 in S&P+ (out of 130). Their offense is ranked #1 but their defense is ranked all the way down at #67.

Conversely, Kansas finds itself down at #112, with the #119 offense and the #97 defense. What the hell happened to that #RutgersFactor?

In the preseason, OU was given a 96% chance to beat KU by S&P+. That number is up, believe it or not, to 99.2%. S&P+ predicts a 42-point OU win, 54-12.

F/+ has a similar outlook for Kansas, predicting a 35-point Oklahoma win and giving the Sooners a 98.0% chance for victory.

ESPN’s FPI gives OU a 97.1% chance of victory.

Vegas has the line set at -36 as of the time of this posting.

Players to Watch

Kyler Murray, first-round pick of the Oakland Athletics and millionaire, is what makes the Sooner offense tick. A true dual-threat quarterback, he has been impossible for everyone to stop so far this year. He has a 32-5 TD-INT rate, completes over 70% of his passes, and averages over 6.5 yards per rush on nearly 100 attempts for the season.

Trey Sermon averages 6.5 yards per carry out of the backfield for Oklahoma, but the impressive back to me is Kennedy Brooks, who averages over 11 yards per carry on 57 attempts so far this year. If you’re averaging over 11 yards per carry, methinks you aren’t getting enough opportunities.

Oklahoma has three receivers with 8 or more receiving TDs who each average 18.0 yards per catch or more. Look for Marquise Brown and CeeDee Lamb to get the ball a lot in the first quarter as OU builds a big lead before running the clock in the second half.

Defensively, Oklahoma’s two leading tacklers are Kenneth Murray and Curtis Bolton, both of whom have over 100 tackles so far this year, AND 10 or more TFL, AND 4 sacks. Craziness. Does nobody else on Oklahoma play defense?

(Apparently not, because the Sooners allow more total yards per game than Kansas at a 5.6 yards per play clip.)

Keys to the Game

Establish the Run. Oklahoma has a weakness on defense somewhere, that much is evident. Even a bad K-State offense got into the end zone twice on these guys. 14 points isn’t going to be enough for KU to win this game, though, so getting the running game going means keeping the OU offense on the sidelines and keeping the clock going (in a good way).

Bend but try not to break. Only one team has held Oklahoma under 36 points this year, and that was Army and their ball control offense (45 minutes to 15 minutes). OU will get their yards, but maybe an opportunistic Kansas defense can find some more magic in the red zone.

Show up. Have some pride. Don’t let Oklahoma punk you on national television with a running clock the way TCU did last year. #Intangibles

The Pick

Why are we playing this game, again? Because we have to? Ok then.

Oklahoma is obviously a huge favorite, and I don’t see any way the Kansas defense can slow them down very much at all. KU doesn’t have the kind of ball-control offense that Army has, and the Sooners have a tendency to beat down teams with inferior talent (see State, Kansas).

As for the series, it hasn’t even been close since the mid-’90s. It’s highly unlikely the Sooners turn the ball over 8 times in the second half like they did in 1975. Even then, well, let’s be honest, OU still might have a chance to beat this Kansas team. I look for Oklahoma to safely cover the spread in this one. Oklahoma 63, Kansas 17.