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OU vs. A&M matchups
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Quick look inside Saturday's battle
How They Match Up
Oklahoma running game vs. Texas A&M run defense
After sitting out Baylor to rest his injured right ankle, Adrian Peterson was hoping to stay healthy enough at Nebraska to get to the bye week without reinjuring it. In his absence (and with the suspension of Kejuan Jones and another injury to Donta Hickson), Jacob Gutierrez strafed Baylor for 173 yards and two TDs on 30 carries. Allen Patrick ran for 49 yards on 15 carries.
In its first seven games, only two opponents ran for more than 150 yards against A&M. The Aggiesâ€™ rush defense allowed just 111 yards per game and 3.2 yards per carry. The tackle tandem of 320-pound Red Bryant and 310-pound Johnny Jolly is an imposing challenge up the middle, and 247-pound MLB Justin Warren led the team with 69 stops.
Oklahoma passing game vs. Texas A&M pass defense
The maturation of Rhett Bomar continued against Baylor. He put up career-highs of 24 completions, 42 attempts and 269 yards and was flawless on the game-winning toss to Juaquin Iglesias in the second overtime. Bomar went into Nebraska with a 100.0 rating, completing 52 percent of his passes for 1,010 yards with four TDs and seven INTs. The freshmen trio of wideouts continues to come on.
Texas A&M CB Marquis Carpenter and FS Jaxson Appel each collected three INTs in their first seven games, but a lack of serious pass rush â€” only 17 sacks, including three by Jolly and three each by MLB Justin Warren and DE Chris Harrington â€” has hurt one of college footballâ€™s worst pass defenses. Going into Iowa State, A&M ranked 113th nationally, allowing 298 yards per game through the air.
Oklahoma offensive line vs. Texas A&M defensive line
OU center Chris Chester (knee) didnâ€™t play at Nebraska and will spend the bye week trying to get healthy. As the lineup has settled â€” LT Davin Joseph, RG Kelvin Chaisson, C Chris Bush, RG J.D. Quinn and Jon Cooper and RT Chris Messner â€” the Soonersâ€™ numbers have improved (156 rushing yards, 160 passing yards per game). Line busts are fewer, although Nebraska was a challenge.
The Aggies went into Iowa State last in the Big 12 (88th nationally) in total defense, allowing 409 yards per game. That includes 401 passing by Colorado, 378 by Texas State and 357 by Kansas State. DEs Harrington (272 pounds) and Jason Jack (282) and DTs Jolly (310) and Red Bryant (320) are consistent against the run, but donâ€™t generate enough pass rush. Depth is a problem.
Oklahoma special teams vs. Texas A&M special teams
Garrett Hartley responded to an off performance against Kansas by hitting all three field goals, including one in OT, against Baylor. The Sooners were among the nationâ€™s best at covering kicks before Baylor averaged 38 yards per return, including a 98-yard touchdown.
Going into Nebraska, Reggie Smith hadnâ€™t popped a kickoff return, but has been close several times.
A&M freshman Jordan Chambless was among the Big 12â€™s best punt returners, averaging 11.1 yards. Through seven games, the Aggies were last in the Big 12 (109th nationally) in kickoff returns, averaging just 17.3 yards per return. Kicking has been a bright spot, where PK Todd Pegram made 10 of his first 13 FGs and P Justin Brantly averaged 44.1 yards per punt.
Texas A&M running game vs. Oklahoma run defense
Injuries have limited Aggie RB Courtney Lewis, who returned for just 4 carries (19 yards) at Kansas State. In his absence, A&M rode freshman Jovorskie Lane, who averaged 119 yards and scored five touchdowns in his first two starts. QB Reggie McNeal surpassed 100 yards four times in his first seven games this season and was averaging 8.8 yards per carry.
Going into Nebraska, OU ranked third in the country in fewest rushing yards allowed per game (76.9). Against an offense that averages 238 yards on the ground, the Sooners have to play gap control better than ever. DEs C.J. Ah You and Calvin Thibodeaux, who did well containing Texasâ€™ Vince Young on the ground, face the same type of challenge here with McNeal.
Texas A&M passing game vs. Oklahoma pass defense
Outside of lowly SMU, Texas State and Oklahoma State, where he completed 62 percent, averaged 310 yards and threw for 10 TDs and one INT, Aggie QB Reggie McNeal hasnâ€™t had a good game. In A&Mâ€™s other four games prior to Iowa State, McNeal averaged 131 yards per game and completed just 45 percent of his throws with two TDs and four INTs.
Sooner DB Lewis Bakerâ€™s fourth position switch in six months hurt. After moving from LB to SS to nickel back, Baker switched to FS and got beat deep late in the game against Baylor. OU played better, although the CBs continue to play soft coverage and the LBs give up too many completions to RBs. Going into Nebraska, OU had improved to 60th nationally against the pass.
Texas A&M offensive line vs. Oklahoma defensive line
The Aggies have imposing size â€” QT Yemi Babalola (6-4, 317), QG Kirk Elder (6-5, 299), C Cody Wallace (6-4, 296), SG Aldo de la Garza (6-4, 324) and ST Corey Clark (6-6, 318) â€” but that size consists of three sophomores, one redshirt freshman and a senior. A&M ranked 10th nationally in rushing at 238 yards per game, but 309 came against SMU and 399 against OSU.
The Sooner front four took significant steps in victories over Kansas and Baylor, but Nebraska and A&M represent a different kind of challenge â€” big and physical up front. DT Dusty Dvoracek wasnâ€™t officially credited with a tackle against Baylor, but he took up blockers to allow Ah You and Thibodeaux to record five each. For the second week in a row, they were the Soonersâ€™ best playmakers up front.
Oklahoma coaching staff vs. Texas A&M coaching staff
The hiring of Dennis Franchione, so hyped as a raging success three years ago, has lost some luster. Franchione improved the Aggies by three games in his second season and has them headed toward a bowl this year, but Aggie fans want to challenge Texas and OU. Every assistant has been in College Station for all three seasons, so continuity is strong.
Coach Fran still remembers the 77-0 whipping Bob Stoops and the once-mighty Sooners handed out two years ago in Norman. Although Stoops tried his best to back off that game, that might still be somewhere in the back of his mind. Without their top three RBs, OU assistants Cale Gundy, Kevin Wilson and Chuck Long had brilliant success with backups against Baylor.