Bedlam Preview 2020

NoFor some, Bedlam is just another game. For others, it’s just another rivalry game. Then, there are those that see the annual gridiron battle between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State for what it truly is; organized chaos. In my house, Bedlam is a holiday.


This year, however, the script writers for Year 2020 have decided it would be funny to send Oklahoma State into Norman as the higher ranked team, with the better record, and the better defense. Offense, which is typically the strongest part of the Cowboys’ team, is very middle-of-the-pack this season. In Coach Dunn’s first year as offensive coordinator, the Pokes are averaging only 411 yards per game. This is considered a disturbingly low output by previous years’ standards. In fact, the last time the Nation’s Brightest Orange averaged less than 480 yards per game was in 2014; a year Oklahoma State would start three quarterbacks due to injury, and finish the regular season at .500.


As strange as it may seem, though, even the boys to the south of Stillwater are having what could be considered a down year offensively. The Big XII’s top offense will enter the matchup on the 21st of November averaging 515 yards per contest, and are led by arguably the best freshman talent at QB1 in the nation. The last two seasons, the Sooners averaged 537.6 (2019) and 570.3 (2018) yards of offense.


Where does this put us for the 2020 matchup? Well, offensively, it’s always been interesting going into Bedlam. One team, OU, has a tendency to bring a high-powered defensive coordinator’s nightmare to the field. The other, Oklahoma State, typically brings a more balanced defensive coordinator’s nightmare to the field.


What is odd about this 2020 matchup, for me, is the defensive side of the ball. We are witnessing a rare instance in which the Cowboys are entering the contest with the better defense. I dove into the numbers on Episode 15 of THE Locker Talk podcast, and what I found was far from the norm.


Looking at the numbers, entering into Saturday, Oklahoma State is either #1 or #2 in the conference in major defensive categories. The categories looked at are Points Per Game, Passing Yards Per game, Passer Rating, Rushing Yards Per Game (not a Top 2 stat), and a few others. The biggest statistical category that I looked at was Third Down Conversion Percentage (defensive). This, to me, is one of the more key stats for any defense, and can tell you a lot about them. Oklahoma State and Oklahoma have two of the best third down defenses in the nation, with the Cowboys being favored; if only by just under 5%.


Oklahoma: 26 of 93 (.280 or 28%)

Ok. State: 21 of 90 (.233 or 23.3%)


What does all of this mean? Well, not a damn thing. It’s Bedlam in 2020! At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to see true to life goblins tunnel into the field with seconds left, tripping up a player breaking away to score the go-ahead touchdown. As D-Rok said recently, “2020 wild, y’all.”


Now, as my way to provide a more complete look into the game, I have asked the opposition their take on the two teams, and that is what we now look at.


{Unit Grades and Analysis Provided by user Sooner Maniac on}

Oklahoma State offense: QB:

Spencer Sanders(SS) is very athletic and very talented. However, he’s also very erratic and inconsistent. As much as he may give you a TD, he also may turn it over. He’s 7th in the Big 12 in Passing Efficiency. However, he’s only played 4 games. So it’s hard to judge. 5 TDs 3INT would be horrible by anyone’s standards. And you’d like to say that his legs will make up for it, except he’s not doing exceptionally well(statistically) there either. Backup QB looks good. But inexperience limits pretty much any expectation I have for him. QB


Grade/Expectation: 75/100


Chuba Hubbard and LD Brown is the best RB in the Big 12. They give a great 1-2 punch that few teams can field this year. They are 3rd and 6th in rushing statistically in the league. The next closest team just happens to be Oklahoma with Pledger/McGowan(5/11).


Grade/Expectation 90/100.


The OL is average, with flashes of good. They are inconsistent and struggle against teams that matchup with them talent-wise. IMO, this is the weakest link on this entire team. And it unfortunately is the necessity for an offense to succeed. Texas is a close comparison as they have a QB/RBs/and some WRS that can make them competitive. IF the OL plays well. However, both teams struggle here and this is the spot that limits them dramatically. They’ve let pressure continually hit SS.


Grade/Expectation: 65/100


With Tylan Wllace this group goes up another level. And if his hamstring injury doesn’t allow him to play against Oklahoma, I don’t see OSU moving the ball much. TW will play on Sundays. It’s a given. He’s that talented. Stoner gives him a great compliment and allows Wallace not to be bracketed completely.



85/100 {healthy Tylan Wallace}

70/100 {injured TW}


The offensive line limits everything OSU does. The talent is there everywhere else to be a very dangerous offense. The offensive line was devastated with transfers and inexperience.


Oklahoma State defense: DL:

This DL is one of the best, or at the least, most consistent, that OSU has had in a recent memory. Usually the offense is what makes this team go and you hope the defense can stop someone. The Big 12 has somewhat flipped on its ear as defense has been more prominent in the Big 12 than offense. The OSU DL has shut down nearly every opponent that has less talent than they do and done well competing against good teams in the Big 12. Overall, they are an elite DL this year.


Grade 85/100.


One of the best LBs in the Big 12 resides in Stillwater, OK. Amen Ogbongbemiga(yes, I looked that up to spell correctly) is the leading tackler for Oklahoma State. On a squad that has shut down teams this year. He’s not in the backfield a great deal as he only has 2.5 sacks and 1 QBH. But it is obvious the defense is better when he’s on the field. Harper also is a great compliment to this good LB unit.


Grade 80/100.


Other than RB, out of the entire team, this is the unit that is the best on the team. And arguably in the Big 12. The safety combination of Harvell-Peel and Sterling is arguably the best in the conference and I’d put them up there with any in the nation. The CBs are solid, but the safeties are where it’s at for OSU. They don’t get beat deep often.


Grade: 85/100.

Oklahoma offense: QB:

Spencer Rattler was good starting the season. But also shaky at times as he tried to force the ball too much early on. After being benched for the 2nd qtr in the RRS, he has been a different QB. But is that due to playing 3 of the worst teams in the Big 12 or because he actually turned a corner? Multiple national analysts have said his talent is compared a current great QB. And he’s a legend in the making…Patrick Mahomes. He has a LONG ways to get there, but raw talent, play style, and throwing motion is very similar. Potential is there, and he’ll no doubt be a 1st rounder one day. But not this year.


Grade 80/100.


This position received a massive upgrade on Halloween night. Usually that’s a night that means bad things. And maybe it did, but for Texas Tech and not Oklahoma. RS-Jr TJ Pledger and true freshman Seth McGowan have been manning the RB spot after starters Kennedy Brooks opted out for Covid and Trey Sermon had a falling out with former OU RB coach and now Texas TE coach Jay Boulware. And by no means have they been bad. Just the opposite. However, Trey’s beef with the coaching staff was enough that Sermon, coming off injury, would’ve been in a good spot as a top 2 back at Oklahoma, but decided to take his talents to Ohio State instead. BTW, he’s having a good year there as well. Averaging I think 4.3 ypc. It was rumored that one other RB, not already named was going to jump Sermon anyways. And he is the aforementioned nightmare that showed up for Halloween and is still haunting Tech fans’ dreams. Rhamondre Stevenson is a 4.5 RB at 245lbs. A bowling ball of a man. I have yet to see anyone take him down with the first guy this year. This kid will definitely be playing on Sundays. May be this next year. He’s played in two games and has been on a tear the entire time. In 2019, as the 3rd option at RB, coming out of JC, he ran for 515 yards and 6 TDs on just 64 carries. That’s just over 8 ypc. He’s right on pace there for ypc at 7.96. However, he already has 5 TDs in 2 games. Again, the caution here is it was Texas Tech and Kansas. OU fans are fully aware of who those teams were. But the time in which he did it was impressive all the same. He has only played 5 qtrs of football. He brings this offensive game up a notch, and it’s very noticeable. I said OSU had the best tandem of RBs, and I still believe that. But I’d have Oklahoma at 1B. Still, just so I don’t contradict myself, their grade is


Grade: 85/100.

WR/TE: This position took a hit when arguably the best WR in Oklahoma history in Ceedee Lamb left early for the draft. He’s been starting for Dallas ever since. To everyone, and looking back it shouldn’t have, but OU’s next great WR wasn’t Charleston Rambo. It’s been “Marvelous” Marvin Mims. Another true freshman who got a chance to shine with two of the three 5*’s signed in 2019, out due to injury/suspension. Mims is without doubt the #1 WR on the team right now. That said, 5* Theo Wease is coming on strong and 5* Jason Haselwood came back last week vs Kansas but is expected to make more of a contribution vs Oklahoma State. 5* Trejan Bridges is still suspended. Mims has 418 yards and 7 TDs on 25 total receptions this year. That’s 16.7ypc. If you have yet to learn about Mims, you should. He set the Texas high school record for total yards at 5,400 yards total in high school. He was rated as only the #154th player due to a bad time(4.67) at a combine where the day before he had played 3 basketball games in a tournament. OU has laser-timed him in the high 4.3’s btw. In all, he’d likely be a 5* in his own right if not for that bad showing. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include the TE/HB position in this. I do it here, instead of RBs, because the HBs don’t get many carries. They see more passes. That said, #3 Mikey Henderson, who will be the future at HB, is getting a few in garbage time. Jeremiah Hall plays the more traditional FB spot, but also lines up as TE in some packages. However, future NFLer Austin Stogner, or as Teddy Lehman says, “Stogkowski” after the NFL great Gronkowski. Austin has found his niche on stream routes. It is extremely hard for LBs to keep up and Safeties to defend a 6’6 250lb TE with Austin’s nimbleness straight up the field. Rattler and he have started perfecting this route by tossing the ball right over the LBs head and before the Safety gets there. This has made for a 10-30yd play on nearly every attempt at this play alone. And that’s just the most obvious one with Stogner in it. He’s a nightmare to matchup against.


Grade: 85/100. Potential is for more, but they’ve yet to do so.


Like every position except QB, the OL got better when it got the addition of UCLA transfer Chris Murray a few games into the season. He has helped steady that OL. That said, the OL has been good throughout the season, if not up to what fans expect out of it as a whole. They’ve struggled with shorter DL that gets leverage on them. This was the most evident against the Iowa State DL. The majority of their 2 deep at DT/NT is right at 6’. They do a good job of getting leverage and their experience of multiple starts is evident. Creed Humphrey is the veteran here. He’s unfortunately, not living up to the 1st round hype he’s gotten the last two years. That said, he could get a 2nd team AA and is likely tops in the Big 12 again at Center.


Grade: 85/100.

Oklahoma’s defense: DL:

Oklahoma’s DL is one of the biggest and most welcome surprises to Oklahoma fans this year. Even with Perkins being suspended for 5 games and Jalen Redmond opting out to let a nagging shoulder injury heal, they have been surprisingly good. Isaiah Thomas at DE has come into the spotlight while Perkins was gone. Oklahoma went into the JUCO ranks last year and pulled out the top two DTs. #1 JC DT Perrion Winfery and #2 DT Josh Ellison have acquitted themselves well. Winfrey looks to be an upgrade over 3rd rounder Neville Gallimore(currently with Dallas Cowboys) from last year. If he continues like he is, he may very well work himself into a top 2 round grade. Oklahoma defense is actually neck and neck with Oklahoma State’s OL in regard to sacks. Oklahoma averages 3.71 while Oklahoma State is right there at 3.67. #7 and #8 nationally. Now, add in the addition of what OU fans believe is the next first rounder at Oklahoma in Ronnie Perkins and you have a very dangerous unit that is only getting better by the week. They are young, Most of their stars are SO/JRs. Before it’s all said and done, this could be a top 10 DL in the nation.


Grade: 85/100


OU is very young here. Their three starters are 2 SO and a JR. Rush backer Nik Bonitto and Willbacker Brian Asamoah are steadily improving. They are backed up by a couple SRs. The MLB position was manned by a true athletic specimen in, Kenneth Murray. He was a huge hit to the defense and this position is not on par with what it was. That said, DeShaun White and David Ugwoegbu(6’4, 250lbs) have made the position a solid contributor to the defense, if not the main one like last year. Overall this LB unit is young and it shows. Their ceiling means they’ll likely get better, but as of now, their grade is…


Grade: 80/100.


Unfortunately, OU’s biggest problem and least talent and lack of size in this area has led to many a point being scored on them. You won’t hear me praise #44 Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles much. And you still won’t. He’s too small and not an athletic freak that would need to outbalance his small size. He has decent coverage skills, but his position puts him up against TEs and big WRs. Meaning he’s not going to win this battle 80% of the time if schemed correctly. Both Iowa State and Kansas State feasted off this mismatch. Add in the turnovers, STs blunders, and short fields given to them and the close losses were understandable. Again, not a fan of Bookie at the NB. That’s either on Grinch or on Bookie. Not sure which. The CBs are definitely getting better and the safeties are starting to turn the corner. These are positions that, other than Tre Brown, are all underclassmen. The freshman are starting to play more and more as they get understanding, which is understandable knowing the problem OU has had with the smaller DBs Mike Stoops brought in. I’m a huge fan of the guy who would’ve put Bookie on the bench, #1 JUCO S Justin Harrington. He came into Oklahoma with a minor knee injury, expecting to get it scoped and healed up, and then play, only to have his ACL have a much larger tear than expected. With the ACL tear, he was flat dominating in the early OU practices. OU coaches know he’s only going to play 1 year. Looks like we’ll see that in 2021. The defensive backfield for Oklahoma is just going to need time. Unfortunately, for 2020’s version of Bedlam, time is up. Until then, they get a grade of…


Grade: 65/100.


Prediction: I look at it like this. Oklahoma State’s Spencer has yet to get over his turnover bug. Oklahoma’s Spencer seems to have turned that corner. At least statistically speaking for both. That’s a plus for Oklahoma. The Oklahoma OL should be able to hold their own vs Oklahoma State’s DL, making for a fun battle. I expect them to win some and lose some. This will be a FUN matchup to watch. Also, both RB groups will get theirs. But I expect OU to have more success, not because their RBs are better, but because their OL matches up better with OSU’s DL. On that note, State’s OL vs Oklahoma’s DL is not going to favor Oklahoma State. This will only add problems with Sanders being pressured and hitting the turf more. I don’t expect his TO’s to magically disappear unless State is laser focused. Maybe the backup comes in and shocks the world. Who knows? Overall I think the OL/DL matchups is where this is won or lost. And I think OU holds the overall advantage in both. I think a lot of State’s DL. And they may get more wins vs OU’s OL, but this will be the best OL their DL has faced. I expect OU to score some regardless. I am not sure I can say the same for OSU. Offense generally wins Big 12 battles. But I’m just not sure here if that’ll be the case or not. Prediction: OU by 10. 34-24. And probably a late score to make it look like it wasn’t as close as it’ll be. Additional notes: Oklahoma Scoring offense: 5th nationally vs Oklahoma State’s defense 15th Oklahoma State’s scoring offense: 65th nationally vs Oklahoma’s scoring defense: 41st


Final Thoughts:

All in all, it should be one hell of a game. I don’t really see anyone pulling away in this one, but if they do, it’ll likely be the Land Thieves from Norman.


The likely conclusion to this matchup is a late drive to score a go-ahead field goal or touchdown, and I have that responsibility falling upon the Pokes.


Eric, if you listened to Episode 16 of Locker talk and our Pre-Bedlam discussion, has Oklahoma taking it in a high scoring affair with a score of 42-36. D-Rok has it less exciting, with Oklahoma taking it with both teams in the low 30s or high 20s.


Yours Truly is going against the grain, trusting my gut, and seeing the Nation’s Brightest Orange taking it. My final score is 30-27, aligning in production with D-Rok’s offensive output predictions, but swapping the winners.


Eric: OU 42-36

D-Rok: No final score; Sooners close.

Willie: oSu 30-27


Things to Watch For:

Oklahoma State -has- to limit the big plays. Momentum loves the Sooners. If the Cowboys want to win, they must limit the Daggers to three or less, or they won’t be able to catch up.


Oklahoma’s Secondary is not great, and they’re having to cover one of the best receivers in the nation. If Spencer Sanders starts to distribute the ball, and does not lock in to Tylan Wallace, things look really good for oSu.



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