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Bedlam Positional Breakdown - 2016

Here we go with the matchup everyone has been waiting for all year, no it doesn’t come during the highly touted rivalry week with all the other rivalry games, but it does come with much anticipation. This year Bedlam will be played in Norman and it’s for all the marbles, the BIG 12 Championship! If you aren’t excited for this game, then you are either A) Not a fan of college football or B) Don’t give a crap about the Big 12. Now this year’s bedlam winner won’t likely be headed to the CFP as the Big 12’s chances are slim to none at best. Now I won’t say it can’t happen but the chaos that would have to ensue is hard to imagine and even with said chaos, it would be up to the committee to think a Big 12 team deserved a chance.

Now that we have all that out of the way, let’s get to the positional breakdowns for this Bedlam matchup. I will be covering each positional group in this article and giving you some opinions based on some stats as to who I think has the advantage heading into the weekend. I will preface this with the fact that this is Bedlam and it is unique to many other matchups in college football and while Oklahoma holds the overall record at 85-17-7. Since 2010 Oklahoma is 4-2 which shows a little better picture of how evenly the teams have been the last 6 years and also in these last 6 years both teams have been ranked in the top 25 except in 2014 when OSU came in unranked and upset the Sooners in Norman thanks to Bob Stoops electing to punt the ball again to the always dangerous Tyreek Hill. Oklahoma did open up as a 14-point favorite against the Pokes for this matchup and if I was a betting man, I would have probably put quite a bit of money of Oklahoma State to cover that spread. With all that being said, in this game you can basically throw out the records because both of these team’s hate each other (at least for this week) and they will lay it all on the line.

Let’s get started on the offensive side of the ball and there isn’t a better position to start with than the QB position so here it is:

QB Position:

Oklahoma: Baker Mayfield

Baker has been exceptional for the Sooners this season accumulating 3381 passing yards to go with 8 interceptions while rushing for 138 yards and 6 touchdowns. He leads the nation in yards per pass attempt at 10.9, and pass efficiency rating at 194.7 (if this stands he will break all-time record which is Russell Wilsons 191.8), he ranks 2nd in completion percentage at 71.4%. To say this kid is having a remarkable year is an understatement.

Oklahoma State: Mason Rudolph

Rudolph has been exceptional as well for the Pokes this season accumulating 3591 passing yards to go with 4 interceptions while rushing for 26 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is 8th in the nation in yards per pass attempt with 9.2, and holds a pass efficiency rating of 160.4, and has a completion percentage of 64.2%. Solid numbers for the junior and the good thing for Pokes fans is he has only seemed to get better.

Breakdown:

Both of these quarterbacks are putting together an excellent season, you can argue back and forth on which is better and fans of both teams will undoubtedly take their QB over the other. To me there isn’t a huge difference, Rudolph has the prototype body, good arm, accurate, and takes care of the football. Mayfield may be on the small side with his height but he makes up for it with his accuracy, arm, and play making ability. To me the difference and the deciding factor on who gets the edge in the QB battle comes down to Bakers ability to make plays out of nothing. I have no idea how he escapes some of the tackles or the pressures that come his way but he is able to and he can usually make a big play happen when he does.

Edge: Oklahoma

Position: Offensive Line

Oklahoma: (LT to RT) Orlando Brown, Ben Powers, Erick Wren, Dru Samia, Bobby Evans

For Oklahoma this is a unit that started out with only 2 of the current 5 as starters, whether it was due to poor play or injuries they have ended up with the current group and this current group has gelled and are playing as well as at any point during the season. This line is led by bookend LT Orlando Brown, not only is he 6’ 8” 340lbs, he has an attitude and fierceness he brings to each game and if you make him mad look out. This unit is 48th in the country in sacks allowed with 20 and 11 of those sacks came in the first three games when the offensive line was completely different. According to football outsiders Adjusted Line Yards (ALY) stat Oklahoma comes in with a 117 rating (100 being average) which is ranked #11 in the nation. Their Power Success Rate (PSR) (Percentage of runs on third or fourth down, two yards or less to go, that achieved a first down or touchdown) is 76.7% and ranks 16th in the nation. Those short yardage runs are key for this offense to pick up to have success.

Oklahoma State: (LT to RT) Victor Salako, Marcus Keyes, Brad Lundblade, Michael Wilson, Zach Crabtree

This unit wasn’t highly thought of coming into the season after the results they produced in 2015 but they have been much better than expected. They still struggle to keep a clean pocket but they are opening up running lines for their RB’s to get through. They have given up 29 sacks this season as a unit which ranks 104th in the nation, so the numbers will tell you they aren’t doing great in that department but like I mentioned earlier this is being offset by their ability to open up running lanes. As far as football outsiders ALY rating they are at a 97.5 which is below average and they rank 93rd in the nation in that stat. Their PSR is 72.7% and ranks 39th in the nation. Those two stats to me tell a story that the offensive line is a much better run blocking unit than pass blocking unit.

Breakdown:

Both units have had to make changes throughout the season whether it was because of poor play or injuries and they both seem to be hitting their stride. Oklahoma State gets back Larry Williams on their offensive line this week, who was starting to make a real impression before being injured. He hasn’t been announced as a starter but either way he is quality depth that could be needed for this game. Oklahoma’s offensive line seems to be the better of the two, they are good at keeping Mayfield clean in the pocket and opening up running lanes for their two premier running backs. That’s not to say that Oklahoma State’s offensive line can’t do damage against OU’s defense which we know has been less than stellar this season. With all that being said, the way Oklahoma’s offensive line has played as of late I have to give them the edge if for no other reason the pass protection is superior.

Edge: Oklahoma

Position: Wide Receiver

Oklahoma:

For Oklahoma it starts with Dede Westbrook, the odds on favorite to win the Biletnikoff Award, he has amassed 70 receptions for 1354 yds. and 15 td’s and that’s after being hampered with a hamstring injury the first three weeks of the season. Coming in at #2 receiver for Oklahoma which may surprise some if they haven’t been watching Oklahoma is Joe Mixon with 30 receptions for 430 yards and 4 td’s. Joe Mixon is a dynamic receiver as well as a runner, the way he is able to catch the ball is not a common thing for running backs. The other threat for OU is the big TE Mark Andrews who many expected to have a much bigger season this year after what he was able to do last season, he has 28 catches for 421 yards and 6 td’s. There are others who come into play for the Sooners at WR like Geno Lewis who has been a key 3rd down target for Mayfield but outside of Westbrook the big play threat is greatly reduced.

Oklahoma State:

This group is led by none other than James Washington who has caught 60 passes for 1159 yds. and 9 td’s, he is Oklahoma State’s version of Dede Westbrook, he can beat you deep and he can also go up and get the football with the best of them. Coming in at the #2 spot is Jalen McCleskey who has caught 67 passes for 746yds and 7 td’s, Washington and McCleskey see just about the same amount of targets each game and Rudolph is comfortable throwing to each one of them. The next two are Seales and Lacy who each have close to 500yds and 3 td’s a piece. The amount of receivers Oklahoma State has that can make plays is impressive. Lacy has come on strong as of late and I look at him as a possession receiver, he seems to have strong hands and can win a lot of the 50/50 balls thrown his way. All in all, a good WR unit for the Cowboys.

Breakdown:

While Oklahoma may have the best receiver of both units in Westbrook, there is no question that Oklahoma State has the plethora of WR’s to hurt an OU secondary who has performed poorly all season. If Rudolph is given time in this game, I expect the OSU WR’s to have a big day against the Sooners.

Edge: Oklahoma State

Position: Running Back

Oklahoma:

I’d bet that most college football fans have heard the names Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon before, this RB tandem is in my opinion the best RB tandem in the country. You have the bruiser in Perine who just melts people when he meets a defender and you have the more athletic all-purpose back Joe Mixon who is also a big human being. Joe Mixon has rushed the ball 157 for 1084yds and 7 td’s this season and that’s having missed a game due to a suspension then you throw in his receiving stats that I mentioned above and he is just a dynamic playmaker. Perine has rushed the ball 142 times for 735 yards this season while missing 3 games and most of a 4th game when he was injured playing against K-State. The unsung hero for this group of backs is the full back Dimitri Flowers, he is an excellent run blocker and also had pretty good hands for a big guy.

Oklahoma State:

We weren’t sure what we would get this season from the Oklahoma State RB group, some of our guys at Big XII Country had predicted that Justice Hill would be the guy and they were right. Justice Hill has emerged for the Cowboys this season to the tune of 943 yards on 171 carries and 5 td’s. He has been a breath of fresh air for the Cowboys and also a big part of their success. Chris Carson is the other main stay in the backfield; he was hampered by an injury earlier this season but has come on strong as of late. He has put up 407 yds on 59 carries and 7 td’s while only playing in 7 games. Carson is the bruiser back while Hill is more of the finesse back making plays in space. Neither RB plays a big role in the passing game but they are more than capable of catching passes.

Breakdown:

This one is pretty easy to decide who is given the edge, it’s not a knock against Oklahoma State RB’s but when you have two players like Perine and Mixon in the backfield and what both of those guys are capable of it’s pretty easy to see they are the more dynamic bunch and to me it’s not even close.

Edge: Oklahoma

Position: Defensive Line

Oklahoma:

What looked like a strong and deep group for Oklahoma at the start of the season has been derailed by injuries, suspensions, and players quitting which has made this unit very thin on the defensive front. The D-line has seen changes throughout the year and at times they look dominant while other times they don’t seem to even be there. The defense has sacked the quarterback 23 times this season which puts them at #63 in the nation. The Sooners also rank 48th in the nation in run defense. The Sooners will get Matt Romar back against Oklahoma State so he will be able to provide some quality depth to get some of these guy’s rest but to say this D-Line is dominant just isn’t the case.

Oklahoma State:

Oklahoma State knew at the beginning of the year they would have a solid D-Line especially with the amount of depth this unit has had. They have sacked the QB 28 times this season which rank 29th in the country and that is led by the big DT Vincent Taylor with 5.5 sacks. Where Oklahoma State struggles a bit is in rushing defense, they rank 81st in the nation in rush defense.

Breakdown:

While Oklahoma comes in with a better rank in rush defense, both defenses are giving up just about the same average per rush right around 4.4 yds. per attempt. I do think that Oklahoma holds the talent level advantage but they just don’t have the depth to keep their stars fresh. Oklahoma State on the other hand has the talent and the depth to keep running out guys that can get pressure and in this game I think these big men will be running around a lot and depth will play a factor.

Edge: Oklahoma State

Position: Linebackers

Oklahoma:

A position coming into the year the Sooners didn’t have a lot of experience and then you throw in your starting LB Tay Evans having to retire due to concussions. This group is beyond thin, especially at the ILB position that Jordan Evans plays. We saw that during the WVU game when he left with a hamstring injury and his backup walk-on Reuben Hunter entered the game and was overmatched the entire game. With that said, there is promise in that LB group with Obo coming off the edge and the emergence of Caleb Kelly as he has earned more playing time and is making plays.

Oklahoma State:

Burton is likely the best of the group but he has been a little banged up as of late but is expected to be fully recovered for this matchup. Outside of that they have some quality players, just nobody that really jumps out at you. The unit has been playing better as of late but still nothing to write home about.

Breakdown:

Neither team has an overly impressive LB corps as a whole nor have they been impressive at covering TE’s and RB’s. This position for both teams has lacked consistency all season.

Edge: Draw

Position: Secondary

Oklahoma:

Oklahoma secondary has been up and down all season, they started the season having to replace Zach Sanchez and they have gone through a plethora of CB’s to try and find a fit. They finally ended that search with Jordan Parker, now he hasn’t played the best but he has progressed as the season has went along, something you would expect of a true freshman. Opposite him is Jordan Thomas who came into the season with high praise but has somewhat underperformed to his lofty expectations. Steven Parker has probably been the most consistent player for the Sooners in the secondary defending passes and runs. Regardless OU ranks 122nd in the nation in passing yards allowed, those numbers are inflated because of the Texas Tech no defense game but that game still happened.

Oklahoma State:

Oklahoma State has Richards, Lampkin, and Pipkins as their primary corners and they have played ok throughout the season, if you make me pick I’d say Lampkin is their best corner but my opinion can be easily swayed. They all have been pretty inconsistent throughout the season but I do think they have gotten better as the year has progressed. The safeties Stearns and Flowers have been the better unit in the secondary, if they get a chance to knock your head off that’s exactly what they will try to do. Oklahoma State ranks 89th in the nation in pass yards allowed this season which ranks 3rd in the Big 12, which based on Big 12 rankings they aren’t good but they aren’t terrible either.

Breakdown:

Both of these teams have had struggles all year with their secondary, neither team has showed any consistency in being able to defend the pass. This one is difficult for me to decide which unit is better, while I think Oklahoma has the best cornerback out of both teams with Jordan Thomas, I just can’t give them the edge as the unit since they have a true freshman starting opposite of him. The deciding factor for me has to be the safety play for Oklahoma State, those guys come to play each week and while they may not be the best in coverage, they will come in and take your head off.

Edge: Oklahoma State

Position: Special Teams

Oklahoma:

Oklahoma has Austin Seibert as their kicking weapon, he takes on all three kicking duties which is something you don’t see too often these days. With that though, he isn’t able to focus on just one task and that has hurt him some with his field goal kicking. For the returners Oklahoma runs out Joe Mixon and Dede Westbrook on kickoff and the punt returner is Dede Westbrook. Both players have shown their explosiveness by returning kicks for a touchdown this season, anytime you can get the ball in these player’s hands, it’s a good thing for Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State:

Oklahoma State runs out fg kicker Ben Grogan who has been consistent for them this season and also became OSU’s all-time career scorer this season, surpassing none other than Dan Bailey. The Pokes punter is Zach Sinor and he has been excellent at pinning teams inside their own 20 yd. line this season, and field position will be a battle that OSU needs to win in this matchup. As far as returners go Barry Sanders is the guy and unfortunately for OSU fans he’s not near the player his father was but he is still able to make plays and has shown flashes at times during the season.

Breakdown:

This is another tough battle to call, Seibert is just as good as Grogan and Sinor but maybe doesn’t have the consistency that the other two have shown. Also, you can’t overlook Oklahoma State’s ability to block fg’s this season, I know Texas fans are still scratching their head over how that was able to happen so many times. I think the difference in both of these teams are the return men, Joe Mixon and Dede Westbrook are far superior than Barry Sanders in the return game and I think Mixon or Westbrook will have a big return in this one.

Edge: Oklahoma

All in all, this has the makings of a very close game between the teams, I don’t see any one team blowing out the other. By the breakdowns, I would say Oklahoma has the slight advantage on the offensive side of the ball and Oklahoma State has the advantage on the defensive side of the ball. The team that will be able to limit the turnovers and convert on 3rd downs should come out the winner in this one.

Brady Huckabee

Co-Host Big XII Country Podcast

@Brady_B12C

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