SOONERS vs. BALANCED SPREADS
In recent years, Big 12 offenses have built a reputation of much passing, high scoring and great quarterbacking. This season, that kind of attack has been in short supply.
Texas Tech still plays that way. Baylor does, too, but the Bears run the ball so well, they don't even look at past Big 12 offenses.
The three teams tied at the top of the Big 12 standings – OSU, Baylor, Texas -- run a similar style. What's best described as a balanced spread. West Virginia tries to, though the Mountaineers have been mostly ineffective.
So how have the Sooners fared against the balanced spreads?
* West Virginia: In a 16-7 victory, the Sooners allowed 169 yards on just 24 runs, while giving up 218 yards on 21-of-41 passing.
Dreamius Smith's 75-yard TD run accounted for a big chunk of West Virginia's yardage. Quarterback Paul Millard largely was ineffective throwing the ball.
Lesson: Not much can be gleaned, since West Virginia proved to be so limited offensively this season.
* Texas: In a 36-20 loss, the Sooners were hurt by UT's running game and occasional big pass plays.
The Longhorns rushed for 255 yards. Tailbacks Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown each went over 100 yards, and quarterback Case McCoy threw deep ball of 59 and 38 yards for touchdowns.
Lesson: Texas ran 60 of its 82 snaps. Establishing the run was excellent strategy.
* Baylor: In a 41-12 loss, the Sooners actually stood up to the Bears fairly well.
Baylor wore down OU and ended up rushing for 255 yards on 54 carries, but the Sooners held Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty to 204 yards on 13-of-26 passing.
Lesson: A big lead makes it easier to commit to the running game, but Baylor and Texas combined to run 70 percent of the time against OU. Expect the Cowboys to do the same.
COWBOYS vs. OPTION OFFENSES
The Sooner offense has found some direction the last two games with the return of Trevor Knight to quarterback.
OU has rushed for 405 yards against Iowa State and 301 yards against Kansas State. So the Sooners' shotgun option will test OSU's high-riding defense.
How have the Cowboys fared against option offenses this season? The Big 12 sports three offenses that could qualify.
* Kansas State: The Wildcats platoon quarterbacks Daniel Sams and Jake Waters, and Sams in particular is the optioneer.
In a 33-29 loss to OSU, Sams quarterbacked all but 21/2 series. The Wildcats had moderate success on the ground, 144 yards, but threw for 192. Sams had his most productive passing game of the season, 15 of 21 for 181 yards. He's come nowhere close to that any other game.
Lesson: The Cowboys seemed committed to stopping the run. Against OU, Knight be dared to pass.
* TCU: When Casey Pachall was injured, the Frogs went with an option offense run by Trevone Boykin.
In a 24-10 loss to OSU, the Frogs rushed for just 126 yards, but Boykin completed 17 of 35 passes for 188 yards and three interceptions. That's his second-highest yardage total of the six games in which he was the primary QB. But the three interceptions comprise almost half his season total (seven).
Lesson: The trend seems clear. OSU likes to make a running quarterback throw.
* Iowa State: The Cyclones used both Sam Richardson and Grant Rohach, in a 58-27 loss to OSU.
Richardson is more of the runner, and he burned the Cowboys with a 51-yard gain. But the Cyclones rushed for just 154 yards total.
Lesson: Not really all that much to learn when playing against the Iowa State offense.