No. 10 Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-2 SU, 7-4 ATS) vs. No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners (9-2 SU, 5-6 ATS)
Big 12 Championship
Date/Time: Saturday December 3rd, 2016. 12:30PM (EST)
Where: Memorial Stadium Norman, O.K.
by Jay, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: OSU +11.5/OU -11.5
Over/Under Total: 78
The Big 12 Championship will be decided in the Bedlam Series this weekend when the no. 10 Oklahoma State Cowboys go into Norman for a showdown with the no. 8 Oklahoma Sooners. As most are aware, the Big 12 is the only Power 5 Conference that does not currently play a conference championship game and those conference championship games will be the highlight of this weekend’s slate of football games around the country. Ironically though this Big 12 season finale between Bedlam Series rivals will still carry the same importance as the other championship games around the country because the winner will officially be declared the 2016 Big 12 Champions.
The official Big 12 Championship Game will return in 2017 but this Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma rivalry will serve as the unofficial 2016 Big 12 Championship Game. Currently, the Sooners are showing as 11.5 favorites to continue their dominance in this rivalry which has an all-time mark of 85-18-7 in favor of Oklahoma. Both teams had similar paths to their 9-2 SU records this year. Oklahoma dropped 2 of their first 3 games while Oklahoma State dropped 2 of their first 4 games. Since those early blunders, both teams have rattled off 15 straight combined victories as two of the hottest teams in the FBS during the 2nd half of the season.
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I must admit that I was somewhat surprised to see Oklahoma favored by double digits. I mean I understand the reasoning to an extent because Oklahoma has an outstanding rushing attack and the Cowboys have struggled significantly against the run all year. Oklahoma running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine have combined for more than 1,700 yards and 17 touchdowns this season. Additionally, both tailbacks have hit the century mark in each of the last two games that resulted in impressive routes against Baylor and West Virginia. Therefore the pressure will be on Oklahoma State’s 81st ranked run defense to slow down one of the best rushing duos in the entire country.
If Oklahoma State can slow down the Sooners rushing offense and that is a big “If”, then they should match up pretty well in most other facets of the game. The Cowboys have a ton of scoring potential to take aim at a mediocre Oklahoma defense. Quarterback Mason Rudolph has been great this season completing 65% passing for 3,591 yards with 24 touchdowns and just 4 picks on the season. The Sooners secondary has some potential matchup problems with Cowboys wide outs James Washington and Jalen McCleskey. Both receivers have caught at least 60 passes this season to combine for just less than 2,000 yards receiving with 16 touchdowns. More importantly they create some significant matchup problems for the Sooners defense as long as Rudolph has enough time to throw the football.
I don’t think anyone is downplaying either team’s scoring ability in this game especially considering the defensive play that both teams have shown this year. After all this total is not listed at 78 for any reason but a very likely high scoring shootout. For those that like trends, this Bedlam Series rivalry has went over the total in their last 4 meetings and in 5 of the last 6 meetings. The Cowboys have especially been favoring heavily on the over this season by going over the mark in 5 of their last 7 games. Even though the total is listed at a high mark, it is not out of reach by any means. If Oklahoma has as much success as I believe they may running the football, it is going to force Oklahoma State to maintain the uptempo pace that they are completely comfortable with. Therefore, do not look for the under here to be a probable or safe play.
Jay’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I get the matchup concerns with Oklahoma State’s run defense but I don’t think the Sooners will be able to stop Mason Rudolph and the Cowboys receivers. I like Oklahoma State to cover and potentially challenge for the victory. Take OSU +11.5
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