1. Cody Thomas: The redshirt freshman gets the start at QB due to a spinal injury to Trevor Knight suffered last Saturday in the Baylor rout. Thomas doesn’t need to win the game for the Sooners but simply manage it by taking care of the football and executing a game plan that should be run heavy, play action passing friendly and with an occasional long ball if it’s there. I expect Thomas to play better than many think. Could Knight’s untimely injury actually become a blessing in disguise?
2. Run the ball: Providing that the Sooners don’t get behind the upset-minded Red Raiders early, using Samaje Perine, Alex Ross and Keith Ford in an effective running game behind OU’s massive offensive line should be the order of the day. Getting back in the ‘Diamond’ offensive formation early and commencing beating Tech into submission will make Oklahoma’s stay in Lubbock as short as possible. Tech is ranked last in the Big 12 in rushing defense.
3. Convert third downs: Especially the third-and-shorts, which depend on the offensive line being assignment sound and hellbent on winning the line of scrimmage. OU is 32-0 in the last 14 years in regular-season games following a regular-season loss. Running the football in general and converting third-and-shorts in particular requires a rugged mindset that Oklahoma must take with them to Lubbock.
4. Offensive game plan: Will hopefully be decisive and uncomplicated especially considering that OU’s young QB is starting is first, collegiate game ever. The Sooners need to get back to running the ball as they did at West Virginia. If Thomas has 20 pass attempts, something is wrong unless Tech plays pass defense like OU did last week. If star wide receiver Sterling Shepherd plays, I’d amend the 20 pass attempts up to 25. #10 is still eligible and in a run heavy offense the tight end or H back are often easy targets to find.
5. Sooner defense: My instincts say that OU will rebound on the road in a place that Oklahoma has lost three of the last four trips and where I received a $182 speeding ticket after one of those loses for driving 72 in a 70 in the right lane on the interstate in lovely Plainview, Texas just north of Lubbock. Things on the football field have to get better, right? It will be interesting to see what adjustments were made this week as Tech does many of the same things that Baylor does offensively except not as good. Multiple receivers will be prevalent which means that OU must play great pass defense, tackle in the secondary and try to get pressure on a QB who will likely utilize a three step drop. In other news, buckle up and don’t speed if you have an Oklahoma tag on your vehicle.
6. Crazy fans: In preparation for Senior Day, Kliff Kingsbury and the Red Raiders had the week off and had to feel good while watching OU get woodshedded at home by Baylor. Tech’s crazy and, at times, crude fans will be as hospitable as their administration was when they denied transferring walk on QB Baker Mayfield’s opportunity to be eligible this season or Mayfield would likely be starting this game for OU vs his former school. The tortilla throwing fans lead the league in new, innovative profanity.
7. Pride: OU is out of the running for the Big 12 Title and the sexy bowls in all reality. With that said, this game is for pride and to regain some respect after losing three league games with three to play. The will to win and the desire to play great football during times like these and on the road where better OU teams have had issues winning in Lubbock is intriguing and will be telling as to the players mindset and the ability of the Sooner coaches to keep their team motivated and remembering just who they are.
Last week’s embarrassing loss to Baylor was as ugly as an old, bowling shoe but will look great on Baylor’s recruiting video for years to come. Enough is enough. The Sooners need to find their fire and and the players must circle their wagons and collectively commit to refusing to lose. The Sooners need to win every phase of this game. I have every belief that Bob Stoops team will play motivated football. For the record, OU is a 12.5 point favorite.
Prediction: Oklahoma 34 Texas Tech 24
Jim Ross @JRsBBQ
You can follow Jim Ross on Twitter @JRsBBQ, listen to him on the Ross Report Podcast, and see him live atRINGSIDE: An Evening with Jim Ross. JR’s products are also available online at wweshop.com,americansoda.co.uk and beyondtheropes.co.uk