1. Turnovers- Quite simply the key to a Sooners win. Don't make them and the opportunity for a HUGE victory exists. Make them and there is little hope OU leaves Stillwater smiling.
2. Trevor Knight- Rookie QB must be able to complete timely passes and protect the football. Knight will face a stacked box and OSU will dare the redshirt freshman to throw. #9 must be able to find success thru the air. In this Bedlam outing, OU having no success via the air guarantees OSU a Big 12 Championship clinching victory.
3. Running Game- Clay, Finch and Keith Ford will be sternly challenged, but I like OU's RB's and the individual uniqueness each man presents to an aggressive and physical OSU defensive unit. Ford having a breakout game would be fabulous. Can OU's offensive line, who is battered and fried, win the war up front? Will OU exploit OSU's defensive aggressiveness?
4. Sooner Receivers- Coach Jay Norvell's group must win their individual battles for four quarters. Cowboy DB's are talented, physical and more than one will likely play on Sundays. Winning battles means blocking well and making big catches in small windows. A third receiver not named Saunders or Shepard stepping up would be big in a bitterly cold day.
5. Special Teams- Corralling OSU star returner Josh Stewart is a daunting task. Same can be said for Justin Gilbert. Allowing Okie State to make big plays on special teams would be toxic. Playing on the road against your in-state rival puts added pressure on every special teams unit. Just ask Nick Saban.
6. Physicality- Expect plenty of it, especially because both rivals earn their keep running the football. Without question, both teams will be emotional but emotions don't last for 60 minutes. Intensity and attention to detail can. Who's got it in them to take the punch, get off the canvas, and re-engage? I picture Boone Pickens Stadium like a giant, UFC Octagon where testicular fortitude is always an issue.
7. Clint Chelf- Overachieving, OSU QB is the proverbial straw that stirs the Cowboys' cocktails. The Enid native cannot be allowed to get in a groove. Problem is that Chelf may be prepared to simply hand the ball off to a dangerous group of Poke RB's, especially if OSU controls the line of scrimmage as some think that they will. Nonetheless defending QB Chelf in every phase of his game seems imperative. Tackling and getting opponents to the ground in this game is crucial.
Mother Nature will be challenging for both teams and the brave fans in attendance
Saturday, but, obviously, the Cowboys' hopes and dreams will provide the biggest challenge for OU. Considering that a win for OSU's senior class in their last game ever at home would clinch a Big 12 Title and a BCS Bowl game for Boone's Boys, it looms large and will be imposing to overcome for the Sooners. I've watched every play of every game in person and neither Mother Nature nor being an 11 point underdog aren't keeping me at home. I still believe in Sooner Magic. How about you?
OU 20 OSU 17
Jim Ross @JRsBBQ
Editor's Note: Jim Ross is an Oklahoma native living in Norman. JR is a two time, New York Times best selling author, former NFL and XFL broadcaster, and a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. Check out JR's BBQ Sauces, Chipotle Ketchup, Main Event Mustard, All Purpose Seasoning and Beef Jerky. All are made in Oklahoma and available at the four, Norman Homeland stores and in Lawton at the three, Country Mart stores. JR's can also be ordered online at http://www.wweshop.com.