Saturday, December 3, 2011
Halftime analysis: OK State 24, Oklahoma 3
By David Ubben
STILLWATER, Okla.--Not quite the shootout most expected, but a fun game. Plenty of passes. Quite a few more incompletions than we thought we'd see, perhaps. Most of them by Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State has completely dominated to this point, even more complete than anyone probably could have expected. A mental block against the Sooners, who have won eight consecutive Bedlams? I think not. OSU is on point. The Cowboys are a better team than Oklahoma, but not this much better. The Cowboys are out to prove something to ... pretty much everyone.
Oklahoma banged in a 48-yard field goal at the halftime gun.
Turning point: Oklahoma needed to move the chains. Facing a 3rd-and-6 at the OSU 19-yard line, OSU brought a big blitz and linebacker Alex Elkins knocked the ball away from quarterback Landry Jones. Defensive end Jamie Blatnick scooped it up and rumbled, young man, rumbled 59 yards down to the Oklahoma 1-yard line. Joseph Randle punched in his 22nd rushing touchdown of the season a play later to give OSU total control at 17-0. OU went three-and-out on the ensuing possession.
Stat of the half: Oklahoma has inexplicably ignored its running game, despite not having receiver Ryan Broyles. Jones has thrown the ball 38 (!) times. The Sooners' backs have carried the ball just eight times.
Best player in the half: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State. Weeden's been very, very sharp while Jones has struggled. The Cowboys passer has completed 14 of 21 passes for 156 yards and consistently moved the chains, though he hasn't thrown a touchdown pass yet. The Cowboys have been running free on intermediate throws over the middle, and Weeden's been on the money all night.
What Oklahoma needs to do: Find a balance between a fast-paced offense capable of putting up points and an offense that doesn't ignore the running game. If it sounds near impossible, that's because it is. But that's life with a 21-point deficit at halftime against the nation's No. 3 team. Oklahoma's passing game simply isn't the same without Broyles. Against the kind of pressure OSU's defense puts on opposing offenses, that's abundantly clear tonight. Did Oklahoma feel like it had to come out and outgun OSU?
What Oklahoma State needs to do: Uh, everything it just did. Lost in the "24" on the scoreboard is the "3." Oklahoma State's defense has been aided by a few drops, but they've tackled well, hit harder than Oklahoma and has been sound everywhere with no busts. Opportunistic turnovers have surfaced, too. For Oklahoma State, if it wants a chance at the title, it better keep scoring and preventing Oklahoma from answering. Now is not the time for mercy. Now is the time for style points.