Junior quarterback Brandon Weeden, sophomore wide receiver Justin Blackmon and senior running back Kendall Hunter are the keys that have helped make the Cowboys' offense the most potent offense in the Big 12. And if OU has any chance of winning, it will have to contain at least one of those players.
But that is easier said than done.
Weeden, who is nearing the end of his first year of college football as a starter at the age of 27 after playing professional baseball for a few years, has thrown for 3,780 yards and 30 touchdowns and has been successful because of his athleticism, said defensive coordinator Brent Venables.
"You think about how many [draft] rounds there are in baseball, and the guy was – what – in the top five rounds, that's a very good athlete," Venables said. "It does not surprise me. He didn't just show up off the turn-up truck, either."
Weeden has been with the Cowboys since 2007, so this is not his first go-around with the team, but despite his age and the years missed due to baseball Venables calls him one of the best quarterbacks the Sooners have played all year.
"He's the [most efficient quarterback] that we've seen by a long ways," Venables said. "And he's got tremendous accuracy and great poise. I think you've seen him get better and better as the year's gone on."
A lot of Weeden's success is due to the fact that he has Blackmon, a Biletnikoff Award finalist, to play pitch-and-catch with. Blackmon has amassed 17 touchdowns and 1,560 yards on 94 catches and has found the end zone twice on the ground, and he has done all of that while still being suspended a game after being arrested on a misdemeanor DUI charge in late October.
Blackmon has torched defenses all season, and he looks to make the Sooners another victim of allowing a 125-yard receiver, which is something he has done to each team he has faced. The fewest amount of yards Blackmon has put up was 125 in the season opener against Washington State, and his season best was 207 against Texas Tech.
"We're going to have to compete every play," said senior safety Quinton Carter. "Blackmon's a great player, great competitor. He's like their Dez Bryant this year, and you compare somebody to Dez Bryant, that says enough in itself."
If Weeden and Blackmon get off to a slow start, Oklahoma State can turn to Hunter to get yards and put up points on the ground while drawing in the defense to open up passing lanes. He has rushed for 1,461 yards, has averaged 5.9 yards per rush and has crossed the goal line 16 times on the ground this season, all of which are Big 12 bests among backs with a minimum of 200 carries.
"He's very explosive and really good at what they ask him to do," Venables said. "[Hunter is] very dangerous every time he touches the ball. So, he's got that Robert Griffin effect that you hold your breath when he gets the ball."
Head coach Bob Stoops said that if he had to choose, he'd try to cut off the Cowboys' rushing attack first, but he is picking a deadly poison no matter which player he tries to scheme against.