#9 Oklahoma vs #22 Oklahoma State (+5.5) 2:30 p.m. CT Saturday, November 4 on ABC
It’s Bedlam week. The historic rivalry comes to an end, or at least a hiatus, as Oklahoma departs for the SEC in 2024. These two squads have played an incredible 117 contests against one another, dating back to 1904 when Oklahoma won 75-0. And fittingly enough, the Sooners have dominated the series. Oklahoma has won 91 matchups, against Oklahoma State’s 19. The discrepancy is tying, with the most recent tie occurring in 1992. Since the millennium began, Oklahoma State has won five games, most recently in 2021.
It’s no secret Oklahoma has dominated this rivalry. The Sooners are historically excellent on the gridiron and even rank sixth in all-time wins. Now in 2023, both programs are ranked and have their sights set on the Big 12 Championship. The Sooners are eyeing bigger accomplishments, with College Football Playoff aspirations in mind. Losing to their storied rival will surely knock Oklahoma out of the playoff race. Therefore, Oklahoma will be playing as if their season depended on it.
The key to victory for Oklahoma is stopping running back Ollie Gordon II. The sophomore phenom ranks second in the nation in rushing, as he’s already accumulated 1,087 yards on the ground. Gordon II has also reached the endzone 10 times, good for fifth in the nation. He’s been running wild, but it hasn’t been all season. Gordon II got things going in week four. After the first three weeks of the season, he had only rushed for 109 yards. From week four and on, the elite back has averaged a staggering 195.6 yards per game. And over the past two games, he’s rushed for more than 270 yards and two scores in each affair. Shutting down Gordon II is essential to slow down the Cowboys.
One of the players tasked with stopping Gordon II is Oklahoma linebacker Danny Stutsman. The 20-year-old backer was recently named a semifinalist for the Lombardi Award. However, Stutsman is dealing with some adversity entering week ten. He’s been dealing with a knee injury and his availability is in question according to Head Coach Brent Venables. Aside from Stutsman, the Oklahoma defense is average against the run. The Sooners allow 132.6 yards per game on the ground. But in their only loss against Kansas, the Sooners allowed 225 yards and four touchdowns on the ground. It’ll be imperative for the Sooners to stop Gordon II and the Cowboys’ ground game.
As for the Cowboys defense, they’ll be faced with stopping a high-powered Oklahoma attack. Oklahoma ranks seventh in total yards per game. And quarterback Dillon Gabriel has been a huge part of Oklahoma’s success. However, Gabriel was slowed down mightily a week ago, which proved to be a major detriment to the Sooners. Besides last week, the Heisman hopeful had been on a roll. He still rushed for three scores a week ago but was limited through the air. While the Cowboy defense may bend, they can’t break and give up big plays to go down early against this explosive offense.
My pick: Oklahoma State wins 38-27
#8 Alabama vs #14 LSU (+3.0) 6:45 p.m. CT Saturday, November 4 on CBS
Yet another rivalry matchup, Alabama versus LSU. Two top 15 squads with SEC Championship aspirations face off on the first Saturday of November. Alabama leads this all-time series, 55-27-5. Despite Alabama’s recent dominance in College Football, LSU has won two of the past four matchups. These affairs are typically nail-biters, and this contest likely won’t stray from the norm. Although, this year’s iteration does have a different feel.
LSU resembles a Pac-12 squad this year. The offense is incredible, but the defense has left much to be desired. The Tigers average the most yards per game in the country and are scoring nearly 50 points per game. LSU is led by quarterback Jayden Daniels and wide receiver Malik Nabers. Each player may take home hardware for their accomplishments at the end of the season. On the other side of the ball, LSU ranks near the bottom in terms of defense in the SEC. The Tigers allow nearly 400 yards per game and are susceptible to the pass and the run.
The Crimson Tide are quite the opposite. They don’t have the same superstar defense they’ve had in the past, nor the plethora of playmakers on offense, but the Crimson Tide are still a good team. Alabama quarterback Jalen Milroe has struggled at times in 2023, but he’s improving week by week. On Saturday, he’ll prove his worth. He faces a depleted LSU secondary. And fortunately for Milroe, he excels at the deep ball. His top three receivers average more than 15 yards per reception. Don’t be surprised if the Alabama offense looks like a dynamic unit against the Tigers' porous defense.
My pick: Alabama wins 41-35