Reason #1: Bradford Bombs
This is a pretty amazing statistic. Of Oklahoma's 360 pass attempts, 42 of those completions have gone for 25+ yards. Now that doesn't sound too impressive, but when you consider the usual Big 12 suspects, that's by far and away the head of the class: Texas Tech - 34, Missouri - 32, Kansas 32, Texas - 30 and Oklahoma State - 24. This may be the biggest reason for fear on my part, is Bradford's propensity to complete long passes and Texas Tech's sometimes problem with allowing them. There is no one better in the conference at connecting down the field than Oklahoma's quarterback Sam Bradford and we've all witnessed how easy it is to get back in the game with a couple of ong throws to a talented receiver, albeit a freshman receiver.
Reason #2: Consistently Making Plays
I think some credit needs to go to OU's defense. They've been a little maligned for their lack of ability to stop opponents, but they are doing one thing that I've always thought is incredibly important, which is make plays. Currently, Oklahoma is first in turnover margin at 1.6 and tied with Texas Tech with 24 forced turnovers. The Sooners are 2nd in the conference in sacks (34.0), 2nd in tackles for loss (80.0), 3rd in interceptions (13) and 3rd in forced fumbles. That's one hell of a play-making group and that's in spite of a number of injuries along their front line. I think it's awfully lofty to expect a number of turnovers on either team in this game, but OU has consistently put itself in position to make plays and be opportunisic enough to create turnovers all year long.
Reason #3: This Is A New Spotlight
Texas Tech has been in big games, but not quite like this. This has been once in a lifetime for me and once in a lifetime for a number of these players, coaches, administrative staff and anyone else associated with the program. That's a little bit of pressure for a grown individual, but that's a lot of pressure for 18 to 21 year old football players who may not have the same idea of history, and mediocre seasons, and how a single win over an opponent can change all of that. It's a delicate balance for Leach to handle as it's probably important to demonstrate the magnitude of the game, without feeling like you're Atlas with the world on your shoulders.
Reason #4: Sustained Running Game
Oklahoma is not going to give up in the running game. Oklahoma State ran the ball 34 times and Texas ran the ball 28 times, again, with varying success, however Oklahoma will not go quietly simply passing the ball. I think it's well known that OU's worst game rushing the ball was against TCU where OU only managed 25, but the key here is that there was 36 attempts. I realize that this is not encouraging news for Sooner fans, but the thing that is perhaps the most impressive is that OU continued to run the ball. A couple of games after TCU, the Sooners only managed 48 yards on 26 carries, but since then, OU has rushed the ball with quite a bit of success: (Kansas) 44-206; (Kansas St.) 45-273; (Nebraska) 40-193; and (Texas A&M) 38-328. Oklahoma is committed to running the ball and I'm thinking that you can expect 40 carries on Saturday night.
Reason #5: Third Downs
Texas Tech is first in the Big 12 at converting third downs at 57.81%, but Oklahoma is at a conference best 30.14% in stopping opponents at converting third downs. Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma State were also very good at stopping third downs, and they had very little success, however, only the Kansas game was on the road, while Texas and Oklahoma State were both on at home. I've maintained all year that this team is completely unaffected by whatever happens on the field, but I'm admittedly worried about getting down if there are successive three-and-outs, while OU is able to put points on the board. I would not be surprised to see the crowd, playing on the road, and a slightly unfamiliar situation cause Texas Tech to convert those third downs we've become accustomed to watching.