OKLAHOMA SOONERS (7-1)
at OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS (7-1)
Boone Pickens Stadium – Stillwater, OK
Kickoff: Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET
Line: Oklahoma State -2.5, Total: 76
One in-state rival is going to end the other's playoff dreams on Saturday.
It's quite common for coaches to publicly lobby for favorable placement in the rankings put forth by the College Football Playoff committee. It's less common for players to do so, but that didn't stop Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield. "There's got to be a head-to-head matchup," Mayfield told the media on Monday, arguing that his team should be ahead of Ohio State. "You've got to have some sense to count that. You talk about head-to-head, they beat Penn State and both of them are still ranked higher than us." When the inaugural 2017 CFP rankings were released the next day, Mayfield got what he wanted: Oklahoma was ranked fifth, one spot ahead of Ohio State (and two ahead of Penn State. Down at No. 11 is Oklahoma State, a team that shares the Sooners' 7-1 record, albeit without a victory nearly as impressive as Oklahoma's win in Columbus. Nonetheless, oddsmakers like the Cowboy's chances at home this weekend against their in-state Big 12 rival, as State opened as three-point favorites for Saturday's showdown between the two teams. Over the last five seasons, teams coming off a conference win of 10+ points and returning 4+ more starters from their previous year's roster than their opponent is (OU) are 28-6 ATS against spreads between +3 and -3. In the same time frame, home favorites that allowed 100 or fewer rushing yards in their last game (OKST) are 11-37 ATS against teams that outrushed their opponents by 200+ in their last game (OU).
Last year, Mayfield led the entire country in yards per pass attempt at 11.1. This year he's second in the nation at the exact same number. He's eighth in the country with 2,628 passing yards, and tied for fifth with 23 TDs. Through all that, he's thrown only three interceptions. All three have come in the last three games—one in each—contests in which the Sooners have largely not looked particularly strong. After surrendering a large lead in the second half to lose to Iowa State, Oklahoma didn't bounce back with a vengeance, but rather picked up uninspiring 29-24 and 42-35 wins over Texas and Kansas State, respectively. They finally got a decisive win in beating Texas Tech last week 49-27, a game in which Mayfield threw for 281 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He also ran for a score. Freshman WR CeeDee Lamb had the best game of his young career, catching nine balls for 147 yards and two touchdowns. TE Mark Andrews, one of the best at his position in the country, had six catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. He leads the Sooners with 599 receiving yards on the year, and Lamb is second with 540. WR Marquise Brown has 478. The Sooners have cycled through several running backs over the course of the season, but RB Rodney Anderson has emerged as the lead back in the last two weeks. He tore up Kansas State for 147 yards on 19 carries, then put up a similar performance against Tech with 181 yards on 24 carries.
Oklahoma State QB Mason Rudolph is one of the few signal-callers in college football that can rival Mayfield's whopping stat lines. In fact, he outpaces him in certain regards. He has the most passing yards in the entire country with 2,866 yards, and his 22-5 TD-INT ratio figures among the best in the nation, as well. Look for his stat line to correlate with the performance of the team at-large: The 44-31 loss to TCU on September 23rd was easily his worst game of the season, as he completed 22 of 41 passes for a season-low 53.7 CMP%, and a season-high two interceptions. He hasn't been particularly impressive the last couple of weeks and needs a bounce-back performance for the Cowboys to get the win at home. He has plenty of weapons in this turbo-charged offense, with the big-name guys being RB Justice Hill and WR James Washington. Hill leads the Big 12 with 836 rushing yards and is second with seven rushing TDs. Only in a blowout Week 2 win over South Alabama has he had under 85 rushing yards in a game. Washington, meanwhile, is one of only two receivers in the country with over 1,000 yards on the season. Remarkably, he only has under 90 receiving yards in one game this year—two weeks ago he had 32 at Texas. Last week, he had seven catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns. WRs Marcell Ateman and Jalen McCleskey are Rudolph's other preferred targets.