November 29, 2007

Part 3: Big 12 Championship's Big Questions

Each day leading up to the Big 12 Championship game, our resident experts will break down one of the key questions surrounding the matchup between the Tigers and the Sooners.

Today's Question: What is the defensive key for each team to win this game?

Josh McCuistion of Oklahoma simply has to create pressure to keep Chase Daniel from becoming too comfortable in the pocket. In his first two attempts against the Sooners Daniel showed flashes of brilliance but like any quarterback was an entirely different animal under pressure. His combined five interceptions in the game were enough to springboard the Sooners to a pair of victories. While I think some credit belongs with the secondary who has dealt well with an array of Tiger offensive weapons, at the end of the day I think it's been the Sooner pass rush that has been the deciding factor. If they can continue to get the kind of pressure that they produced in the first two attempts against Daniel then I think they are bound to have a lot of defensive success. If Daniel is allowed time to find his receivers and properly go through his progression then the Sooners defense could be in a whole lot of trouble as the Tigers are able to hurt defenses with their speed and size. If Jeremy Beal can pick up some of the slack from Auston English's expected absence the Sooners will be in good shape.

Gabe DeArmond of I think the Tigers have to do as good a job against the run as they did in the first three quarters in Norman. Missouri contained the run game and found itself with a lead after three quarters. In the fourth quarter, OU got the run game going and ran away with the game. Not a real difficult equation to balance there. With Demarco Murray out, the onus of the run game falls on Allen Patrick. Patrick had his way with Mizzou in 2006, but the Tigers have been much better against the run for the most part this year. They held KU's running game to 42 yards last week. A similar effort will give Missouri a great shot to win this game. But if Oklahoma is running it well in the first half and Sam Bradford can set up the play-action game, the OU receivers have a big edge on the Mizzou secondary and Oklahoma will have plenty of big plays available down the field. Put Oklahoma in second and third and long where the run game is not a threat and the Tigers have to feel pretty good about their chances. and will answer a different question each day this week

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