Crossfire: Oklahoma Q&A

This week's edition of Crossfire welcomes Matt of Crimson and Cream Machine to RMN for an opposing viewpoint on Saturday's Big 12 Championship.

RMN: Everyone's stat of the moment is Oklahoma's string of four straight games with 60-plus points. Is there any reason to believe this offense can be slowed enough to give Missouri a shot?

CCM: "With all due respect, after watching Kansas play against Missouri on Saturday I am extremely confident in Oklahoma's ability to pass against the Tigers. There hasn't been a team yet to put the breaks on OU's offense and the Tigers currently rank last in the conference in passing yards allowed per game so it doesn't appear, to me, that strategy wise that Missouri has the personnel to stop Oklahoma's attack.

Now, that said I am always scared of Kansas City. When temperatures drop near freezing passing games seem to come unhitched. I know that you've already pointed out the 2003 Big 12 Championship game when the Kansas State Wildcats ripped through the Sooners. I was at that game and for some reason Jason White and company couldn't move the ball. That game was in KC where the Sooners just aren't as dominant for some reason. I would say that Missouri definitely has a shot Saturday night."

RMN: What caused Oklahoma's 45-35 loss to Texas in October? Are the factors that contributed the Sooners' sole loss replicable by Missouri?

CCM: "I'm not one to make excuses for losses so what caused the loss was that on that day in the Cotton Bowl the Texas Longhorns were the better team. Now, with that understanding there were two contributing factors to Oklahoma being inferior were DeMarco Murray not being fully healthy and the loss of middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds. With Reynolds in the game the Sooner defense gave up 198 yards and 13 points. With Reynolds gone the defense allowed 288 yards and 24 points.

Against Texas DeMarco Murray averaged 0.9 yards per carry and was as effective as the kid on the sideline passing out cups of Gatorade. Part of that was due to the Longhorns defense but the majority of the problem was that he just hadn't regained his full strength. Murray ran extremely soft the first five games of the season but has since turned it on and is now averaging 5.6 yards per carry on the season.

I'm confident in Murray and Oklahoma's rushing attack now but still leery about the linebacker situation. Ryan Reynold's backup went down Saturday night against Oklahoma State and now the Sooners are faced once again with the task of putting someone in the middle to anchor the defense. The options aren't great either. They are either going to put in a third string LB or move Nic Harris from safety to the middle linebacker spot."

RMN: As maligned as the Missouri defense has been in 2008, the Sooner defense caught its own fair share of criticism as the season progressed. How much faith do you have in the unit at this point, and what kind of output do you expect from Missouri against the OU defense?

CCM: "Aside from the previously mentioned linebacker situation there are also some other concerns when it comes to Oklahoma's defense against Missouri's offense. The offenses that have given OU the most trouble this year were the ones who had either a dangerous threat at receiver, a mobile quarterback or a balanced attack or all three.

Missouri isn't as balanced this year as other opponents the Sooners have faced but they certainly have the dangerous threat at receiver and mobile quarterback covered. That concerns me!"

RMN: What, if anything, concerns you most about the matchup with Missouri?

CCM: "Jeremy Maclin! It concerns me to see him matched up against anyone in Oklahoma's secondary just because he is so good especially after making the catch. What absolutely scares me is Maclin on kickoff returns. OU has been bad, bad, bad on kickoff coverage this year. So much so that many fans would just rather see them kick the ball out of bounds! "

RMN: In the past, it seems like Oklahoma thrived off disrespect, and the fans drew confidence from Stoops ability to drop the "disrespect" card (a la the 2007 Big 12 Championship). Now, is there any concern with Oklahoma having to travel to Kansas City as already anointed winners against a team with absolutely nothing to lose?

CCM: "Focus absolutely should not be a problem for OU in this game. I believe that this could be Bob Stoops' best opportunity to play Rodney Dangerfield, "We don't get no respect!" simply because the entire country doesn't feel that they deserve to be there. If that isn't motivation then I don't know what is."

RMN: Finish the following phrases:

OU will win if: they can run the ball effectively (which makes the passing game even easier) and force the Tigers to be one dimensional. 
Mizzou will win if: they force turnovers and run the ball effectively enough to draw attention away from Maclin.

RMN: Give us your prediction.

CCM: "The offenses are too good for it to be a low scoring game and I think the "Kansas City Factor" keeps it close - 42-35 OU."



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