Jack Shields of Crimson & Cream Machine was willing to answer a few more questions heading into Saturday’s Big 12 Championship Game. As always, we appreciate his time and his quality answers. Be sure to catch our response on CCM later today as well!
Frogs O’ War: The Big 12 Championship game is back, and it appears the conference’s worst nightmare has come to fruition - they have a legitimate playoff contender that has a lot to lose Saturday. How do you feel about the Sooners needing to play in this game?
Jack Shields, Crimson & Cream Machine: It’s obviously not terribly convenient for Oklahoma this season considering that they’d be somewhat of a lock without it. There are seasons in which this may actually benefit Oklahoma or the conference, but I imagine it’ll just be a potential hindrance more often than not.
FOW: What is the mindset of the team and fanbase heading into the rematch? Are they as confident about round two as they were round one?
CCM: It’s obviously tough to beat a team twice in one season, especially when that team is coached by Gary Patterson. At the same time, Oklahoma’s offense is churning right now. The defense has also showed some signs of life since allowing 52 points in Stillwater, so I think most folks believe that Oklahoma can win again. History is also on Oklahoma’s side, as OU is 4-0 all time in rematch games, which includes a 3-0 record in Big 12 Championship rematches.
FOW: What have you learned about the Sooners, especially on defense, since TCU and Oklahoma last met?
CCM: I think this defense has sort of confirmed what was already known but wasn’t necessarily on display in the middle of the season. It’s not a dominant unit, but it’s capable of doing enough to win games and can make plays when it matters most. There’s enough talent on that side of the ball to get stops when the players are disciplined and the scheme is sound. The young defensive backs have continued to play well since having a coming-out party of sorts against TCU, so there’s reason for optimism.
FOW: Do you think there are opportunities for TCU to exploit the young secondary? Have they shown any cracks against Kansas and WVU?
CCM: I would say there’s an opportunity there. However, It’s sort of been difficult to tell due to the circumstances surrounding Oklahoma’s last two games. Against Kansas, the wind was howling similarly to what was seen in Lubbock that same day and definitely had a huge impact on both passing attacks. Also, Will Grier broke his finger against Texas two weeks ago, so West Virginia came into Norman with a surprise Wildcat attack. In summary, it’s been sort of tough to gauge the groups development since the last meeting.
FOW: Baker Mayfield is winding down to the last 2-3 games of his Oklahoma career, and will likely go down as the best QB in their history, a Heisman Trophy winner, and possibly a national champion. But for all the good he has done for OU Football, he has been as divisive a figure in CFB as any over the last couple of years. How will Baker Mayfield be remember by OU fans and beyond? How should he be remembered?
CCM: He’s absolutely adored by OU fans -- even by those who disapprove of his behavior at times. In spite of the somewhat humble nature of the average Oklahoma citizen, OU fans have sort of embraced brash characters since the Switzer Era. I think everyone also loves how the team responds to his energy. Coming into the season, he had a chance to establish himself as the greatest quarterback in OU history. I think he’s done that. However, he’ll be remembered as the greatest overall player in school history if he can win a national championship, and he’d definitely be deserving of that distinction in that instance.
As far as the rest of the country is concerned, I think he’s sort of seen as the Anti-Tebow but not necessarily a Manziel. His national legacy sort of depends on what he does from here on out. If he wins a national title, could he be considered one of the greatest college football players of all time? I think he’ll be in the conversation if he wins out.
FOW: TCU got Rodney Anderson’ed to death in the first meeting. Is he the key to OU winning the B12 Championship, does it fall on Baker, or is there someone else that we should be watching for?
CCM: I think the answer is “yes” to all three since Oklahoma will absolutely have to bring it’s A-game offensively against a well-prepared Patterson team. Rodney Anderson is the biggest playmaker of all the skill-position guys right now and could turn the tide of the game with a big play or two. Baker Mayfield is going to have to make some very tough throws this weekend and be a zoned-in as he’s ever been. Mark Andrews and Dimitri Flowers are going to make an impact and be reliable targets, but OU really gets rolling when wide receivers CeeDee Lamb and/or Marquise Brown make a major impact. If those guys can make some big plays and be sure-handed, OU’s offense could have a lot of success against an elite defense.
FOW: OU wins if… TCU wins if… Prediction?
CCM: I think OU wins if the young secondary makes enough plays on third down, which is something they were able to do in the last meeting. I think TCU could win if it establishes the run game and avoids third-and-long scenarios. I predict OU to win this, but it won’t be decided in the first half this time. OU makes some plays late in this one and wins by a score of 34-24.
We appreciate Jack’s time and look forward to a great game Saturday morning.