We had the opportunity to sit down with Rich DeCray, editor at Crimson and Cream Machine, SB Nation's wonderful Oklahoma Sooners blog, to chat about Saturday's matchup against the Sooners. A big thanks to him for answering my questions.
You can also read my answers to his questions over on C&CM.
1. What. The. Heck. Happened against Texas?!?!
We are still asking the same question and have yet to find an answer! Maybe, just maybe, Jay Norvell held on to a secret playbook. After whispering a phrase in Farsi, the defensive and offensive weak points revealed themselves, all Norvell had to do was act upon the revelations.
2. The emergence of Baker Mayfield in this new OU offense has give Oklahoma their best shot at a Big 12 championship in several seasons. Which is more to credit for the turnaround on offense, Mayfield or the new system?
Most definitely the new system! Although Lincoln Riley is often labeled as an air-raid prodigy, the Sooners have run the ball 440 times to 334 passing attempts on the season. Balance remains the key as the opponent is forced to remain on their heels. However, you need a quarterback to run Riley's system and it just so happens that Baker Mayfield's skill set was a perfect fit.
That's not a statement to discredit what Mayfield means for this offense with unrivaled moxy. The junior has been a driving force in the resurgence of the offense.
3. Oklahoma has beaten their last five opponents by an average of 38.4 points per game, which obviously leads everyone to pay attention to the offensive side of the ball. However, Oklahoma's defense is playing incredibly well this season. How have the Sooners been able to slow down some of the more powerful offenses in the Big 12?
The defensive success can be attributed to the success of the front seven in making life difficult for opposing quarterbacks. Defensive tackle, Charles Walker burst onto the scene as a redshirt sophomore finding his way into the backfield more often than not. With nine tackles for loss and five sacks, offensive lines must identify the threat on every down. Of course, you cannot forget about the prowess of linebacker Eric Striker who has 7.5 sacks credited to his name.
As a team, OU ranks third in the nation with 36 sacks on the season. The effort has taken much of the pressure off the secondary in what many consider to be a pass happy league.
4. If OU makes it through TCU and Oklahoma State, do you think a 1-loss Oklahoma team makes the College Football Playoff? Does anything crazy need to happen for them to slip in, or will their resume merit automatic consideration?
The Big XII continues to get the cold shoulder from the college football playoff committee, a group set on making excuses for every other conference/independent currently sitting in the top four. Unfortunately, I don't see that mindset changing anytime soon. With that said, the Sooners won't make the playoff with the loss to Texas continuing to provide a dark cloud. If Oklahoma wants to be included this year, they'll need a bit of help in addition to winning out.
It's crystal clear in my mind that the committee will not select two Big 10 programs at the conclusion of Championship Weekend. Therefore, it will either be Iowa or Ohio State, not both.
Now we are looking at Notre Dame as the only obstacle. In their past six meetings, Stanford has collected four wins and will call upon the tree to stand strong once again...I'm hoping that trend continues. Regardless, the Cardinal remains Oklahoma's best hope of cracking the top four.
5. Lastly, how do you see this game playing out? Score?
Confidence continues to run high on the Oklahoma sideline. Playing for the final time this season in front of a home crowd, OU comes out firing building a first quarter lead. But, the Horned Frogs answer chomping away at the deficit just before half time. Coming out of the half, TCU threatens to take the lead but a turnover sends the crowd into a frenzy. It's all Oklahoma in the final one and a half quarters as OU win 42-27.