1. Home Improvement- How many of the Sooners' self described issues have been corrected since a woeful first quarter and change against an anemic Kansas team last week and a totally forgettable game against Texas? The bottom line is simple: If OU doesn't play significantly better for four quarters Saturday, the Sooners likely won't win.
2. Verticality- The Sooners' vertical passing game has more personalities than a Kardashian family gathering. The mere 'threat' of throwing the ball downfield helps the running game, which is the Sooners' offensive strength this season. Game planning for Shepard, Saunders, Jaz and Neal is imperative this week. Too bad that a tight end could not be included in that summation. Love the Sooners' misdirection and occasional 'gadget' plays...which we all love when they work.
3. Third Down- The team with the most success on third downs, whether it be converting them or earning three and outs, will likely win this massive game Saturday. The Sooners need to keep Tech's offense sidelined for long stretches of time. Converting third downs by the OU offense is imperative.
4. Predictability- Tech will attempt to make Blake Bell beat them with his arm. Kingsbury's Krew will obviously take from the TCU and Steers' defensive game plan and put 7-8 men near the line of scrimmage IE "load the box." How Oklahoma's offense counters/executes will tell a major story of this Big 12, survival game. Bell's effectiveness and overall productivity at the QB position for the Sooners remains under a microscope. I still think that Bell can be successful. Nonetheless, will OU unleash a package utilizing another QB's skills if the situation merits it on Saturday?
5. Fundamental Defense- OU must be able to properly line up against a spread out, wide open offense that will attempt to exploit the same deficiencies that have plagued the Sooners the past few weeks. Being able to 'line up' should not be an issue at this point in the season. Over the years, OU seems to often times have issues covering tight ends and backs who become receivers. Tech's tight end is a beast.
6. Line of Scrimmage- Same story...different team...basic football. The team that wins the battle along the line of scrimmage enhances their chances of winning OU's next to the last home game of the year. Who truly is tough enough? Who wants to win this fight by knockout and not a late round decision? Do the Sooner linemen, on both sides of the ball, have an ample supply of "nasty" in them to dominate? As UFC's ring announcer Bruce Buffer often shouts, "IT'S TIME!"
7. The Crowd- Will the Oklahoma faithful turn out early and be in full voice? Kingsbury said this week that playing OU in Norman was playing in a "hostile" environment. Hmmm, really? To whom is the GQ coach trying to sell that? Obviously, that would be his team who the 34-year-old coach has believing that they can win every game, and thus far they have. Kingsbury will likely pull a Switzer and make this game "Us against the World" for the boys from Lubbock come Saturday in Norman. Hopefully, Sooner fans will be in rare form and make a positive difference in this game. Just singing 'Sweet Caroline" won't get it.
To win this game against a hot team and, more importantly, one who believes that they are good, OU must play better than they have all year. 'Old school' football terms such a turnovers, special teams play, crowd noise, along with mental and physical toughness, can't be stressed enough. This one won't be for the weak of heart. Are the smartest fans the one's who took Tech +8 early?
OU 24 Tech 21
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.