Oklahoma Sooners: Brandon Weeden

EDMOND, Okla. -- It’s not that Edmond Santa Fe had never sent a recruit to a top school before, but it has never been done on such a consistent basis as it is right now.

The Wolves have had top prospects before. Defensive back Reggie Smith was about as elite as they come before signing with Oklahoma in 2005 and making his way to the NFL. Quarterback Brandon Weeden got his start at Edmond Santa Fe, played at Oklahoma State and was a first-round pick in the NFL.

We'll be walking through the top 10 players at each position in the Big 12 before the season, but we'll start with the most important, especially in this league.

Let's do this:

1. Geno Smith, West Virginia: Smith put up huge numbers (4,385 yards, 31 TD, 7 INT, 65.8 completion percentage) and did so efficiently last season. Both of his top two targets are back and the adjustment to Big 12 defenses shouldn't be too difficult.

2. Landry Jones, Oklahoma: Jones and Smith will go head-to-head all season for honors as the Big 12's top passer. Who comes out on top is anyone's guess, but Jones regressed last season, and his receivers let him down after Ryan Broyles' season ended with a knee injury. He'll try to bounce back with just one reliable target (Kenny Stills) to start the season. The rest of the receiving corps is loaded with potential, but very inexperienced.

3. Collin Klein, Kansas State: Clearly, I'm taking more than just passing acumen into account here. Klein is the Big 12's No. 2 returning rusher, and also threw for just under 2,000 yards last season, adding 13 passing touchdowns to the 27 he scored rushing. We'll see how much better he is as a passer this fall.

[+] EnlargeCasey Pachall
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty ImagesTCU's Casey Pachall could be poised for a big year with a stable of talented receivers.
4. Seth Doege, Texas Tech: I refuse to hang last year's failures on Doege's shoulders. Absolutely not. He played well, at least as well as he could. The running game struggled and offered almost no support after Eric Stephens' injury. The defense was a disaster and there were injuries all over the place. Doege still went for more than 4,000 yards, 28 scores and just 10 picks. Don't be surprised if Doege throws his hat in the ring as the Big 12's best passer by season's end.

5. Casey Pachall, TCU: Pachall didn't have eye-popping numbers, but only because TCU rode on the shoulders of its trio of running backs. Still, Pachall's numbers are going to be better this year, and he's got great targets in Josh Boyce, Skye Dawson and Brandon Carter, not to mention youngster LaDarius Brown.

6. Nick Florence, Baylor: I like Florence to have a big year with really good receivers, but he's got too much to prove for now. He looked good in spot duty for RG3 against Texas Tech last season, but his senior season will look much, much different than his inconsistent freshman year all the way back in 2009.

7. Wes Lunt, Oklahoma State: The Big 12's only freshman quarterback is a true freshman, and Lunt earned this spot by beating out some really tough competition in J.W. Walsh and Colton Chelf this spring. Amazing stuff, and his coaches know good quarterbacks. Zac Robinson and Brandon Weeden have established quite the QB tradition in Stillwater. Here's guessing Lunt continues it.

8. Dayne Crist, Kansas: Crist's college career hasn't been what he imagined after coming to Notre Dame as one of the most highly recruited signal-calling prospects in his class, but he's got a chance to start something special at Kansas in his senior year, reunited with former coach Charlie Weis. Crist won't have the weapons some of the other guys on this list have, but he gives KU a big, big upgrade at the position.

9. Steele Jantz/Jared Barnett, Iowa State: These two have to cut down the turnovers, but they've both shown the ability to be playmakers. There's no guessing who wins this legitimate battle in the fall, but coach Paul Rhoads isn't afraid to bench either one if the turnovers don't stop.

10. David Ash/Case McCoy, Texas: Mack Brown insists it's still a contest. My jaw will be on the floor if Ash doesn't trot out on the field for the first game of the season. Ash has some potential and promising targets in Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley, but he hasn't shown the big-play ability of Jantz or Barnett. Expect Ash to move up this list by season's end, but for now, it's all just potential.
Every weekday morning, a member of the SoonerNation gives his take on three things happening in the Sooner sports world.

1. The NFL draft begins tonight at 7 p.m, and though it’s unlikely any Sooners will hear their names called during the first round, there will be plenty of familiar names coming off the board. Oklahoma’s defense was much maligned late last season but Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III, who torched the Sooners' secondary, is set to get selected No. 2 overall by Washington and Oklahoma State receiver Justin Blackmon, who had 18 receptions for 200 yards and one touchdown in two games against OU, likely will be drafted in the top 10. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper also has OSU quarterback Brandon Weeden going late in the first round. Clearly the Sooners weren’t the only team who struggled to stop Griffin or Weeden and Blackmon.

2. You have to wonder what it is like to be Landry Jones tonight. He could be walking across the stage to meet Roger Goodell, but instead he’s in class? There are several NFL teams looking for a quarterback in the draft and it’s easy to believe Jones would have been a top 10 pick if he had elected to declare early. Regardless, Sooners fans should be happy, they’ll have an NFL quarterback at the helm this fall, someone multiple NFL teams would love to have in their locker room.

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On improving Texas QBs, Sooner DBs

April, 19, 2012
4/19/12
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Last season, Oklahoma or Texas failed to win the Big 12 for the first time since 2003.

How?

Well, Oklahoma State had a little something to do with it, but so did two huge positions in need of improvement.

Both cracked colleague Travis Haney's list of positions with the potential for huge growth Insider in 2012.

First up, the Texas quarterbacks.
Texas seemed to indicate it would like for the more athletic [David] Ash to be the guy, even as a freshman, but he could not sustain enough consistency to win the job outright. And, really, Ash simply could not take care of the ball. He threw an interception every 21.8 passes. (The most efficient quarterback in 2011, Wisconsin's Russell Wilson, threw one every 77.3 throws.

[Case] McCoy was more consistent in November, but no one was mistaking him for his older brother in terms of arm strength and accuracy. He did put up a 356-yard passing day in the loss to Baylor at the end of the regular season, but McCoy then gave way to Ash for the bowl victory against Cal. It was a yo-yo effect all season for the Horns, who would like to see one of the two emerge -- but still haven't really through spring ball.
My take: I totally agree with this one. How much Ash improves is the big question. An offseason full of first-team reps will be extremely valuable -- he got almost none last year before being thrust into the role of starter as a true freshman. During spring camp last year, he was a fourth-stringer. He could get better, but Ash has never really looked the part of future superstar to me. Fortunately for the Longhorns, the team is good enough everywhere else it doesn't need him to be a superstar. If he's solid, but able to get the ball to Texas' playmakers like Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis, the Longhorns will be a factor in the Big 12 race.

Second, Haney looks at the Oklahoma defensive backs, who are under new direction this year with Mike Stoops.
Stoops has a variety of options for the different spots in the defensive backfield. Already, he has shifted Tony Jefferson from sam linebacker to free safety, his more natural position, and moved Javon Harris from free to strong safety. Harris was the goat in several games, including the Baylor debacle. Jefferson might be the most underrated defensive player in the Big 12 because he has yet to settle into one, specific position.

Another important piece of the OU defense, Aaron Colvin, missed the spring after minor shoulder surgery. He can play any of the secondary spots, again freeing up Mike Stoops to mix and match to find a solution for the big-play disease.
My take: The league's best quarterbacks gave the Sooners all kinds of trouble last year, and it won't be much easier this year. Yeah, Brandon Weeden and Robert Griffin III are gone, but TCU's Casey Pachall and West Virginia's Geno Smith are the new guys very capable of tearing up anybody's secondary.

It's tough to know exactly what the problem for Oklahoma was. The Sooners could be dominant at times. They have the talent and athleticism. Most importantly, they have lots of experience. For OU, it's a matter of just doing it. Stoops will try to make it happen, but big improvement could result in a big, big year for the Sooners.

A national title, perhaps?

Big 12 position rankings: Quarterback

January, 25, 2012
1/25/12
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Today, we'll kick off a look at the postseason rankings for each position in the Big 12. Here's a look back on where our first position, quarterback, stood in the preseason.

Quarterbacks' rushing talents are factored into these rankings. As such, it's tough to figure out how to weigh that vs. passing acumen. Ultimately, teams ranked 4-7 were really, really close.

In these position rankings, we take into account backups, though that impact is minimal at the quarterback spot.

1. Baylor

If your quarterback wins the Heisman, you're not finishing below No. 1 on this list. Robert Griffin IIIlit up defenses and broke the NCAA record for passing efficiency, even though Wisconsin's Russell Wilson did the same this year, and finished higher than RG3. Even when RG3 suffered concussion-like symptoms against Texas Tech, backup Nick Florencecame in and burned Texas Tech's defense in a 66-42 win. Griffin finished with as many touchdowns as Brandon Weeden (37), but threw as few interceptions as Collin Klein (6), despite throwing the ball 121 more times than Klein.

2. Oklahoma State

Brandon Weeden is a solid second place in this ranking, and backup Colton Chelflooked good in lots of mop-up duty, too. Weeden was the star, putting together an All-Big 12 caliber season, though Griffin's otherworldly performance in 2011 knocked him off his first-team perch from 2010. He led the league with 4,727 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also had the second-most pass attempts in the league, with 564.

3. Oklahoma

Landry Jones got some help late in the season when Blake Bell's BellDozer racked up a team-high 13 touchdowns. Jones wasn't outstanding late in the season after Ryan Broyles' knee injury, but his receivers didn't help him much, either. The dropsies seemed to infect everybody after Broyles' college career ended. Jones finished with 4,463 yards passing, second most in the Big 12. He also added 29 touchdowns but must improve on his 15 interceptions, a regression back to freshman-year Jones.

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The 2011 Big 12 All-Bowl team

January, 13, 2012
1/13/12
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Here's the All-Bowl team from the Big 12, recognizing the best single-game performances from this year's bowls.

QB: Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State: Weeden threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns (it could have been four if a game-winning TD pass to Colton Chelf hadn't been overturned) on 29-of-42 passing. His first pass was intercepted, but he had an otherwise solid night and ran for his first career touchdown in the 41-38 win against Stanford.

[+] EnlargeTerrance Ganaway
AP Photo/Darren AbateBaylor's Terrance Ganaway rushed for five TDs in the Alamo Bowl.
RB: Terrance Ganaway, Baylor: The Big 12 rushing champion ran for 200 yards and five touchdowns in the Bears' 67-56 win against Washington in the Alamo Bowl.

RB: Ben Malena, Texas A&M: Malena stepped in for the injured Cyrus Gray and Christine Michael and had a solid game in the Aggies' 33-22 win against Northwestern in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas. He finished with 77 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries, showcasing his physical running style. He also caught six passes for 36 yards.

FB: Trey Millard, Oklahoma: Millard carried the ball four times for 21 yards but also helped pave the way for three Blake Bell touchdowns from the Belldozer formation.

WR: Ryan Swope, Texas A&M: Jeff Fuller had better numbers in the bowl, but it was aided by big catches late. Swope kept the Aggies offense humming for most of the game, with eight catches for 105 yards in the win against Northwestern.

WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State: Blackmon was the best offensive player in the Big 12 bowls, spearheading Oklahoma State's offense in the Fiesta Bowl win with eight catches for 186 yards and three touchdowns.

WR: Colton Chelf, Oklahoma State: Chelf made two huge catches over the middle early and a third nearly won the game, but his touchdown was overturned. Still, OSU doesn't win its first BCS bowl without Chelf's 97 yards on five catches.

TE: Michael Egnew, Missouri: By Egnew's standards, it was a quiet game, but he played well with a 25-yard grab and three catches for 39 yards in Mizzou's win.

OL: Grant Garner, Oklahoma State: Oklahoma State's offensive line is keyed by Garner, who helped the Cowboys handle Stanford's blitzes well and give Weeden plenty of time in the Fiesta Bowl win.

OL: Philip Blake, Baylor: Baylor ran for 482 yards and scored 67 points in its win against Washington in the Alamo Bowl. Blake's the man who keyed it all.

OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State: Adcock's the best overall talent on OSU's line, and he showed it in the win against Stanford.

OL: Dan Hoch, Missouri: Missouri rolled over one of the nation's best rush defenses, North Carolina, for 337 yards on the ground.

OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M: The Aggies' offense was potent for most of its win against Northwestern, and Joeckel was solid in run and pass blocking for the balanced attack.

DEFENSE

DL: Jackson Jeffcoat, Texas: Jeffcoat made five tackles, two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss in the Longhorns' 21-10 win against Cal. The Texas defense dominated, and the defensive line's play was the catalyst. He did it all with a torn pectoral muscle, too. He'll miss the spring after having it surgically repaired this week.

[+] EnlargeAdam Davis
AP Photo/Matt StrasenKansas State defensive end Adam Davis, 97, had two sacks and forced this first-half fumble by Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson in the Cotton Bowl.
DL: Adam Davis, Kansas State: Davis sacked Arkansas' Tyler Wilson twice and had three tackles for loss with a forced fumble in the loss to the Razorbacks.

DL: R.J. Washington, Oklahoma: With Ronnell Lewis ineligible, Washington showed up big in the win against Iowa. He had two sacks and made three tackles.

DL: Tony Jerod-Eddie, Texas A&M: Jerod-Eddie made eight tackles and had a sack in the win against Northwestern.

LB: Damontre Moore, Texas A&M: Moore was a monster in the season finale for the Aggies, making nine tackles and forcing a fumble on his lone sack.

LB: A.J. Klein, Iowa State: Klein flew around for the Cyclones, making 15 tackles in a physical game against Rutgers, though the Cyclones lost.

LB: Jordan Hicks, Texas: Could this be a big piece of momentum heading into 2012? Hicks starred with seven tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and a pass breakup in the win against Cal.

CB: Jamell Fleming, Oklahoma: Fleming was the Big 12's best defensive player of the bowls and the best player on the field in the Insight Bowl, making seven tackles, intercepting a pass and returning it 21 yards. He also broke up three passes.

CB: David Garrett, Kansas State: Garrett made 10 tackles and had two tackles for loss in the loss to Arkansas.

S: Kenny Vaccaro, Texas: He hates the nickname Machete, but Vaccaro was hacking away at Cal. He made three tackles, including two for loss and a sack.

S: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State: Even if it was illegal (it was), Martin had the hit of the bowl season with a huge blast on Stanford's Ty Montgomery that took Montgomery's helmet off on the opening drive. He finished with nine tackles and a tackle for loss, with a fumble recovery.

SPECIALISTS

P: Tress Way, Oklahoma: Way averaged 50 yards on his six punts, including a 67-yarder.

PK: Randy Bullock, Texas A&M: Bullock made all four of his field goal attempts, including two from beyond 40 yards.

PR: Dustin Harris, Texas A&M: Harris looked the part of the Big 12's best, returning a punt 35 yards and finishing with 54 yards on his four returns.

KR: Justin Gilbert, Oklahoma State: Gilbert had a 50-yard return and returned his four kicks for a total of 136 yards.

Early 2012 Big 12 power rankings

January, 10, 2012
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With the season over, it's time to take a look at the Big 12 in 2012. For now, that means assuming a few things. And we all know what assuming does.

It makes us all look like geniuses.

So, for the purpose of this, I'll assume a few predictions. First, I'll assume Robert Griffin III is heading for the NFL. I'll also assume Mike Stoops lands back at Oklahoma.

That said, it's time to project what this league looks like in 2012.

And, before we start, let me make this clear: The Big 12 from 1-6 is absolutely wide open. Last year, the league only had three legitimate title contenders: Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State. This year, every one of the top six teams (and maybe seven, if RG3 returns) can win the Big 12 in a realistic scenario. The difference between Nos. 2 and 6 is minuscule and could change a ton by the end of spring practice.

And for the curious: I would have Missouri behind Kansas State on this list, and I'd have Texas A&M right behind Texas.

1. Oklahoma: The Sooners moved into the familiar role of favorite after Landry Jones announced he'd return in 2012, but not nearly as heavy a favorite as they were in 2011. Injuries hurt Oklahoma late this season, and replacing Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Frank Alexander, along with linebacker Travis Lewis and corner Jamell Fleming won't be easy. Receivers Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds have to play big for the Sooners to get the win.

2. Kansas State: The big question mark for this team is can it take care of business and not get stuck in close games in 2012? The Wildcats were 8-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less this season. They can't count on duplicating that in 2012. They should be better, and return most of the big pieces from this season's 10-win team, most importantly quarterback Collin Klein and linebacker Arthur Brown. Next season is the time to prove it.

3. West Virginia: Who else is excited to see Geno Smith, Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineer Express show up in Big 12 country next season? Like I wrote last week, giving up 33 points and still winning by five touchdowns is the Big 12 way of life. The Mountaineers broke Baylor's week-old bowl scoring record with 70 points, and bring back most of a good Big East champion team in 2012. The transition won't be easy, but they've got a chance to make a big splash in their inaugural year. The Big 12 and West Virginia are both convinced that the Mountaineers will join the Big 12 in 2012 and are planning as if it will happen, though pending lawsuits with the Big East mean it's still unofficial.

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Film Review: OSU 44, Oklahoma 10 

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
10:11
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Matthew Emmons/US Presswire
Landry Jones had four turnovers in the Sooners' 44-10 loss to Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma began the season ranked No. 1 in the nation.

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OSU takes back state bragging rights

December, 4, 2011
12/04/11
1:09
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STILLWATER, Okla. -- The proud Pokes finally did the deed.

The goalposts came down, and the Oklahoma State flags went up.

Red state? Blue state? For the first time since 2002, Oklahoma is an orange state.

The impact of Saturday's dominant 44-10 Oklahoma State win over Oklahoma was far-reaching. After voters from coast to coast slot LSU No. 1, they'll have to decide on No. 2: Alabama or Oklahoma State?

But on this night, the Cowboys had a chance to enjoy the simpler pleasures, too.

All that politicking and SEC mudslinging will last less than 24 hours.

This win on Saturday night? It'll last a whole year and bleed everywhere -- from coffee shops to elementary schools across Oklahoma.

Coach Mike Gundy says he's immune from the ever-present smack talk. But everybody else?

"I know it affects the players," Gundy said. "And coaches' families, their kids. I've got three kids that go to school, and all the coaches have kids. They want to win. That's what their dads do. That's just a fact. Whether you like it or not, there's legitimate reasons for us to win, so when they go in those restaurants, they don't have to listen to, 'Hey, y'all made it all the way to No. 2 in the country, but you still didn't beat OU.'"

[+] EnlargeOklahoma State celebration
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesThis was only the 17th time Oklahoma State has beaten their in-state rivals Oklahoma.
They played this Bedlam rivalry for the 106th time on Saturday night. This was only the 17th time that Oklahoma State fans left with their heads held high.

"It's one thing to hear it around the rest of the state, but when you go home and you have to hear people talk to you about it, it makes it worse," said receiver Justin Blackmon, who hails from the heart of Sooner country. His hometown of Ardmore, Okla., is only about 80 miles south of Norman.

"I know they won't be able to talk," Blackmon said.

The simple truth: Wins like these are more special for the folks in orange. They don't see them quite as often, but that number is growing.

For a year, they'll relish the first outright conference title in school history and the first since they shared a conference crown in 1976.

Gundy called it the most gratifying football moment of his career, overtaking the first time he beat Texas in 2010.

"Nothing compares," said the career Cowboy, who has spent 21 years as a player, assistant and now head coach at Oklahoma State.

This one was special.

"We've earned their respect over the last four, five, six years, so it's different," Gundy said. "There were a number of years we didn't even have their respect. They respected us, and that helps, but still, you've gotta beat 'em. Otherwise it's always, OSU has got to this level or that level, but they've never beat OU."

And Gundy, in a fashion that turned the second half into a party atmosphere instead of a tense one, became the first coach since that coaching savant down in the Bayou, Les Miles, to knock off Oklahoma as the Cowboy-in-chief.

The Cowboys didn't beat Oklahoma. They beat the heck out of Oklahoma. The offensive line: "Phew, dominant," quarterback Brandon Weeden said with a shake of his head.

Weeden had enough time in the pocket for most of the night to craft each of his linemen a handwritten thank-you note to hand out in the postgame locker room, where Gundy obliged his team with another one of his patented dance sessions.

"I had no choice," he said. "I'm a YouTube sensation. There's no telling what'll be on there next."

That was only after a well-deserved Gatorade shower.

"God, that was cold," Gundy said.

Yeah, Oklahoma fans felt the same way.

Oklahoma State running backs Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle -- who combined ran 22 times for 178 yards and four touchdowns -- found holes from the offensive line wide enough that if the two were Siamese twins, their numbers might not have been much different.

The last time Oklahoma State took the field, Iowa State fans stormed it. Saturday night, it was the Cowboys' turn, all before slapping on orange shirts and white hats declaring them "Big 12 Champions."

Fans braved the nine-foot drop from the stands to the field at Boone Pickens Stadium.

Weeden stopped and posed for an endless string of photos. Players celebrated among the mob.

"I had my helmet on, and I got slapped in the head so many times, I might have a concussion," Weeden joked.

He stopped and shook Pickens' hand after. Those hundreds of millions of dollars that Pickens handed over to the school he loves so much? BCS National Championship Game appearance or not, it's paying off.

Oklahoma State, for the first time, is the Big 12 champion.

"To see [the players] enjoy that, that's a huge thrill for me, because there's so much that goes into this," Gundy said. "I just want them to be able to enjoy it."

They will. And so will the rest of the Oklahoma State family.
STILLWATER, Okla.--Not quite the shootout most expected, but a fun game. Plenty of passes. Quite a few more incompletions than we thought we'd see, perhaps. Most of them by Oklahoma.

Oklahoma State has completely dominated to this point, even more complete than anyone probably could have expected. A mental block against the Sooners, who have won eight consecutive Bedlams? I think not. OSU is on point. The Cowboys are a better team than Oklahoma, but not this much better. The Cowboys are out to prove something to ... pretty much everyone.

Oklahoma banged in a 48-yard field goal at the halftime gun.

Turning point: Oklahoma needed to move the chains. Facing a 3rd-and-6 at the OSU 19-yard line, OSU brought a big blitz and linebacker Alex Elkins knocked the ball away from quarterback Landry Jones. Defensive end Jamie Blatnick scooped it up and rumbled, young man, rumbled 59 yards down to the Oklahoma 1-yard line. Joseph Randle punched in his 22nd rushing touchdown of the season a play later to give OSU total control at 17-0. OU went three-and-out on the ensuing possession.

Stat of the half: Oklahoma has inexplicably ignored its running game, despite not having receiver Ryan Broyles. Jones has thrown the ball 38 (!) times. The Sooners' backs have carried the ball just eight times.

Best player in the half: Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State. Weeden's been very, very sharp while Jones has struggled. The Cowboys passer has completed 14 of 21 passes for 156 yards and consistently moved the chains, though he hasn't thrown a touchdown pass yet. The Cowboys have been running free on intermediate throws over the middle, and Weeden's been on the money all night.

What Oklahoma needs to do: Find a balance between a fast-paced offense capable of putting up points and an offense that doesn't ignore the running game. If it sounds near impossible, that's because it is. But that's life with a 21-point deficit at halftime against the nation's No. 3 team. Oklahoma's passing game simply isn't the same without Broyles. Against the kind of pressure OSU's defense puts on opposing offenses, that's abundantly clear tonight. Did Oklahoma feel like it had to come out and outgun OSU?

What Oklahoma State needs to do: Uh, everything it just did. Lost in the "24" on the scoreboard is the "3." Oklahoma State's defense has been aided by a few drops, but they've tackled well, hit harder than Oklahoma and has been sound everywhere with no busts. Opportunistic turnovers have surfaced, too. For Oklahoma State, if it wants a chance at the title, it better keep scoring and preventing Oklahoma from answering. Now is not the time for mercy. Now is the time for style points.

Numbers tell most of the Bedlam story

December, 3, 2011
12/03/11
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STILLWATER, Okla. -- Sometimes, this game is pretty simple. So far, Bedlam fits the bill. Oklahoma State is dominating.

All you need to do is glance at the stat sheet to see why the Cowboys lead, 10-0.

Brandon Weeden has completed 8 of 10 passes for 115 yards, and the Cowboys offense has been as sharp as ever. The running game is rolling too. Jeremy Smith and Joseph Randle have run for 53 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. Everything Oklahoma State has wanted to do offensively is working.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma has made moving the ball on Oklahoma State look pretty difficult. Landry Jones has completed just 9 of his 18 passes for 84 yards and an interception deep downfield in the end zone.

The running game? Nonexistent. Brandon Williams has three carries for nine yards and Trey Franks added four on an end around.

Analyze it all you want. This doesn't take much.

Oklahoma State has sprinted out front and the reasons are obvious.

Five Wide: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State

December, 3, 2011
12/03/11
7:30
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Despite losses to Texas Tech and Baylor, the Sooners have a shot at an eighth Big 12 title. But first, they must knock off third-ranked Oklahoma State at Boone Pickens Stadium. Here are five storylines to follow for a Bedlam tilt of top 10 teams:

Landry on the spot
In Stillwater this season, Oklahoma State has scored 61, 37, 70, 59 and 52 points. Chances are, to beat the Cowboys, Oklahoma will have to outscore them. And with Ryan Broyles unable to provide the pop, the pressure is on quarterback Landry Jones to keep the Sooners in the game. Jones outdueled Brandon Weeden to lead the Oklahoma to a shootout victory last season. For the Sooners to win, Jones will need to outgun Weeden again.

[+] EnlargeLandry Jones
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiWithout a few playmakers, Landry Jones wil need to carry the Sooners' offense against Oklahoma State.
Bring the 'Belldozer'
The Blake Bell package has been virtually unstoppable this season. On 33 carries, Bell has rumbled for 11 first downs and nine touchdowns, and fullback Trey Millard has added two rushing touchdowns out of the set. Oklahoma State has had its struggles against power rushing plays, which is why the “Belldozer” could be a game-changer for the Sooners offensively.

Young run guns
With the passing game slipping sans Broyles, the Sooners will be relying on young running backs Roy Finch and Brandon Williams to pick up the slack. Both have played well the last two weeks, averaging a combined 6.2 yards per carry. That kind of production will give the Sooners to hang if this game turns into a shootout.

'Shark' week
OU’s embattled secondary has been gashed by the lesser passing attacks of Texas Tech and Baylor. The “Sharks” have to come to play if the Sooners are to have a chance in this one. The talent is there. The experience is there, too. Time for the “Sharks” to live up to their own preseason hype.

No un-special teams
The Sooners have been surprisingly superb in special teams the last few weeks, but they’ll be facing perhaps the top special teams unit in the nation. The Pokes returned kicks for touchdowns in the teams’ last two meetings and Stillwater, and the Sooners can’t allow Justin Gilbert to run wild on them again. Michael Hunnicutt also needs to continue to nail his field goals, as the Sooners can’t afford to leave any points on the field this game.

SoonerNation Picks: OU at Oklahoma State

December, 2, 2011
12/02/11
7:00
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Oklahoma State 41, Oklahoma 35
Thanks to the passing of Landry Jones and the running of Blake Bell, the Sooners go toe-to-toe with the Pokes early. But after withstanding a couple of quick OU scoring strikes to open the third quarter, Brandon Weeden's offense pulls away in the fourth to give the Cowboys their first outright conference title in 63 years.

[+] EnlargeRyan Tannehill
AP Photo/Alonzo J. AdamsOklahoma defensive end Frank Alexander has a chance to be the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Pick to click: Frank Alexander does everything he can to keep the Sooners in the game, with two sacks and three tackles for loss. OU loses, but Alexander goes on to capture Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors.
- Jake Trotter

Oklahoma State 38, Oklahoma 35
The Cowboys finally get over the hump thanks to a late turnover by the Sooners which ends a potential game-winning drive. The weather has a impact on OSU as they struggle to make big plays through the air but still make enough plays to pull out the victory. OU leans on its running game to put up points but three turnovers prove costly.

Pick to click: Freshman Brandon Williams flashes the potential that has had Sooners fans drooling all season with one long touchdown run as he secures the first 100-yard game of his OU career.
- Brandon Chatmon

Oklahoma State 31, Oklahoma 22
Weather is going to play a big role in this one as freezing rain that could turn into snow is being expected. In a battle of the running games, it is OSU's Joseph Randle and Jeremy Smith that get the best of OU's Roy Finch and Brandon Williams in helping the Cowboys earn a Big 12 championship and their first BCS bowl appearance.

Pick to click: The secondary has heard for the last two weeks about how the "sharks" moniker needs to go away. The group responds with an inspired game. Led by Jamell Fleming, OU's secondary will cause at least two turnovers.
- Bob Przybylo
It's easy to see Saturday's Bedlam as 60 minutes that could have meant so, so much more.

For Oklahoma State, 60 minutes in Ames, Iowa, all but assured it wouldn't. LSU and Georgia will play an essentially meaningless SEC title game Saturday night. Win or lose, the currently undefeated Tigers will almost certainly play a one-loss team for the national championship.

Perhaps it will be Oklahoma State. It's much more likely to be Alabama, which is idle this weekend.

For the Oklahoma State-inclined, it's easy to look at Saturday's game against Oklahoma and see what it isn't. The dream of a national semifinal in which the Cowboys' BCS title opportunity comes explicitly at the cost of the Sooners is likely gone. Neither team will likely meet LSU to play for all the crawdads down on the bayou.

[+] EnlargeJustin Blackmon
AP Photo/Sue OgrockiIt may not lead to the BCS title game, but Justin Blackmon and Oklahoma State can reach unprecedented ground with a win over Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State should see Saturday's game for what it is: a chance to make some very meaningful history.

Six teams have won a Big 12 title. Oklahoma State can win its first Saturday, denying the Sooners a share in the process.

Doing so would mean beating rival Oklahoma for the first time since 2002. So, maybe coach Mike Gundy refuses to politick for his team this week, but that only means he grasps what this week means, rather than what it doesn't.

"We're in a situation that we have a chance to win a football game and win a conference championship for the first time in the history of the school," Gundy said, "and I just feel like that's more important than politicking for a spot in second place or wherever it would be in the BCS."

A win also would give Oklahoma State its 11th of the season with a chance for a school-record 12th in a BCS bowl, one more place Oklahoma State has never been.

For all of Oklahoma State's recent success, this season is an example of how things work in college football. Only one team has ever won the national title without first playing in a BCS game. Never mind that Oklahoma is the only team to do it.

What hurt OSU fans most about the gut-punch at Iowa State? This felt like "The Year" for every Pistol Pete disciple. Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon will be cashing NFL checks this time next year, an event sure enough that Blackmon, a junior, will take part in senior day festivities Saturday.

And maybe it is The Year. But there's plenty of reason to believe it's "A Year That Didn't Quite Work Out." Oklahoma has had plenty of those.

Weeden was a walk-on who spent a handful of years playing baseball. Blackmon was a three-star recruit. Both are special. But Oklahoma State is recruiting better than ever.

"We’ve got a lot of great guys in this program that are really young. We haven’t ever had kids like this around here," Gundy told me after a dramatic win over Kansas State this year. "I see a lot of things changing. It’s just different than it ever has been."

Why couldn't Oklahoma State recruit another Weeden and Blackmon? Oklahoma does it every season. Lose Sam Bradford? Enter Landry Jones. Ryan Broyles shatters records. Kenny Stills breaks Broyles' freshman records.

Oklahoma State lost a first-round pick at receiver and a record-breaking receiver after the nine-win 2009 season, along with four offensive linemen. Nobody gave the Cowboys a chance. They won 11 games. Gundy credits his culture within the program. Underclassmen know what's expected of them when it's their time.

The Cowboys are closer to Oklahoma than ever before. This season and the last, the Cowboys have been the better team entering the game, although Oklahoma knocked off the Cowboys to win the Big 12 South last season.

Oklahoma State might not hang with Oklahoma's near-perennial top-10 classes, but the Cowboys have consistently reeled in top-25 classes in recent years.

A win Saturday would continue a streak that only the coaching elite can claim: Oklahoma State will have won as many or more games as the previous season during all seven of Gundy's seasons.

In 2010, the big step was winning a share of the Big 12 South. This year, it could be winning the Big 12.

So maybe this isn't the year Oklahoma State wins the national title.

But it might be the next step.

OSU QB Weeden a different challenge

December, 1, 2011
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OU’s secondary has had more than a week to try to put the Baylor performance behind it. A solid performance against Iowa State has helped the group’s confidence, but once again, the secondary will be under fire from a high-powered offense.

The mode of attack will be different, though, from what the Sooners saw from Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Griffin threw for 479 yards and four touchdowns but also rushed for 72 yards. That’s not likely to be the case with Oklahoma State signal-caller Brandon Weeden.

“He’s very accurate with good ball placement,” senior safety Sam Proctor said. “This offense, it’s timing for these guys, precision passing.

“He puts in on shoulders, back shoulders. You have to play the guy until the end. You have to stay on your man and not so much the quarterback.”

Griffin was able to make plays out of the pocket with his movement, which is not Weeden’s specialty. Proctor said Weeden’s experience will be a concern because Weeden is able to look off his first read and find other receivers. But Proctor doesn’t anticipate Weeden trying to make plays with his legs.

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