2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 5 - Ball State at Oklahoma
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Oct. 1 at Oklahoma 62 … Ball State 6
CFN Analysis: It’s not like Oklahoma was going to lose to Ball State, but it was a major positive that the team came out focused and workmanlike to never let the game get close. Landry Jones bombed away for 425 yards and five touchdowns and Dominique Whaley ran for 109 yards and two scores ripping off big run after big run, but it was the defense that sparked the offense with three Tony Jefferson interceptions. The Cardinal offense never got moving and OU kept the attack working well into the second half, and now it’s time for Texas. After inconsistent wins over Florida State and Missouri, it was the perfect time for a blowout over an inferior team.
It would’ve been nice to have something positive to come out of a game with one of the best teams in America, but the defense wasn’t even close to slowing down the OU offense and the Cardinal attack didn’t find anything that worked. To make this even remotely interesting the offense had t be mistake-free, and four turnovers made it a blowout. Keith Wenning was awful completing just 12-of-31 passes for 84 yards and three picks, and the running backs never got a chance to do anything after the game started to get out of hand. Temple is up next at home, and to have a chance the run defense has to be far better up the middle.
(AP) NORMAN, Okla. -- Tony Jefferson was starting to think his performance was too good to be true.
Fortunately for Oklahoma, it was entirely for real.
Jefferson fueled a second-quarter scoring surge with interceptions on three straight drives, and the second-ranked Sooners geared up for their rivalry game against Texas next week by beating Ball State 62-6 on Saturday night.
"It was kind of weird. It just kept happening over and over again," Jefferson said.
That's what Ball State had to be thinking, too, as Oklahoma (4-0) made each turnover costly by cashing in for seven points again and again. By the time they were done with the turnover-fed 5 1/2-minute binge, a four-point lead had grown to 32.
Landry Jones threw for 425 yards and five touchdowns -- including scores of 64 yards to Ryan Broyles and 56 yards to Jaz Reynolds a minute apart in the third quarter -- and then Jefferson's mind strayed toward the looming game next Saturday in Dallas against No. 17 Texas. The Longhorns also remained unbeaten with a 37-14 win at Iowa State.
"I started thinking, `All right, now it's time to move on. We're up big. We've got a big game next week," said Jefferson, the Sooners' starting nickelback.
Ball State (3-2) didn't stand much of a chance after recovering an onside kick to open the game, then going three-and-out, particularly once Jefferson got involved.
Keith Wenning had gone 176 straight passes without an interception but then threw three to Jefferson in a span of four attempts.
On Ball State's first play after Dominique Whaley's 25-yard TD run, Sooners defensive end Frank Alexander tipped Wenning's pass high into the air, and Jefferson leaped to grab the ball. That set up Kenny Stills' 7-yard touchdown catch from Jones two plays later.
Jefferson ended Ball State's next drive by tipping Wenning's overthrown pass with his right hand and then corralling it along the Cardinals sideline. Roy Finch picked up 47 yards on a swing pass, and Whaley then punched it in with a 1-yard score on his fourth straight carry.
And Jefferson wasn't done yet.
He tracked down another batted ball -- this time by R.J. Washington -- for his third interception in a span of six offensive snaps by the Cardinals. Broyles scored two plays later on a 27-yard touchdown catch from Jones, capping the Sooners' sudden scoring spurt and make it 38-6.
It was the second straight week the Sooners had an unimpressive start before taking control with 28 straight points in the second quarter, this time courtesy of Jefferson.
"He's got a real knack for the ball, obviously," defensive coordinator Brent Venables said. "We all know that. He's got good instincts, good anticipation and that's why he so valuable down close to the line of scrimmage.
"That position gets a lot of opportunities but it takes the right guy to capitalize in those situations. Tony, he's a ball magnet."
Jefferson even had a shot at picking off a pass on four straight drives, when Wenning's throw clipped off Toreial Gibson's hands and then off of Jefferson's before falling incomplete. Jefferson said he dropped it because he was already thinking about making a spin move and running in for a touchdown.
"(Jefferson) was just in the right place at the right time," said Wenning, who was trying to throw away the interception that didn't get tipped at the line. "He's a good player, so he made a couple plays."
Tom Wort picked up where Jefferson left off, recovering Wenning's fumble and running it back 22 yards for a score that made it 59-6 with 11:34 left in the third quarter. That capped a 68-second span with three Oklahoma touchdowns, after the Sooners had already scored a pair of touchdowns 49 seconds apart twice in the first half.
Wenning, coming off a career-best 324-yard outing against Army last week, managed just 84 yards on 12-for-31 passing. The Cardinals were outgained 655-214.
"You have to have a short memory," Wenning said. "Obviously this game hurts, but you've got to forget about it and move on."
The most trying times for the Sooners came early in the second quarter, just before the scoring onslaught.
Ball State got within 10-6 after a 15-play, 7-minute drive that finished with Steven Schott's second field goal of the game. Then Brennan Clay and Whaley, Oklahoma's top two running backs, both got dinged up within three plays.
While one group of trainers was helping Clay across the field, another group was helping Whaley remove his jersey so they could tend to his right shoulder. He returned six plays after Clay left with a sprained shoulder, going for a 10-yard pickup before his 25-yard score around the left side.
Whaley finished with 109 yards on 15 carries, with most of the damage coming in the first half. Clay did not return but coach Stoops expects him to play next week.
Broyles caught four passes to move to 304 career receptions, one more than the previous Big 12 record set by Texas Tech running back Taurean Henderson (2002-05). He is 12 catches behind the NCAA career record held by Purdue's Taylor Stubblefield (2001-04).
Broyles had 109 yards receiving with two touchdowns. Reynolds had 141 yards on five catches.
Ball State (3-1) at Oklahoma (3-0) Oct. 1, 7:00, FSN
Here’s The Deal … What looked like a walk in the park for Oklahoma in the offseason now might be a wee bit of a fight. At the very least, the No. 1 team in America should have to do a bit more than put on the uniform.
New Ball State head coach Pete Lembo is one win away from getting is team to match last year’s win total of four, and with shocking wins over Indiana and Army on the résumé, the team is showing it isn’t going to be the speed bump it’s been over the last few years. The offense has a little fire, the defense has been decent, and the hope is there to be a player in the MAC race with two huge tests coming up against Temple and at Ohio. But first, the Cardinals have to get paid.
Oklahoma can be excused for scheduling a breather in early October, with games against Florida State and Missouri already in the rearview mirror and with the Texas showdown up next. As good as the Sooners have been, the return game could use some work, the secondary has been shaky, and the offense could be better for a full four quarters. Ball State is the last of the non-conference dates before going the rest of the way in the Big 12, and it’s the last time the Sooners will be home until late October.
Why Ball State Might Win: Oklahoma is beaten up, and focusing could be a problem.
Head coach Bob Stoops never takes it easy on his players and never worries about injuries or a heavy workload, but several backups will see key moments this week with a few key players trying to heal up for Texas.
Center Ben Habern is out with a broken arm, the possible loss of receiver Kenny Stills for another week as he gets over a concussion will hurt, and solid target Trey Franks is in the doghouse for a violation of team rules. The Sooners are going to be less than 100%, and coming off the big wins over Florida State and Missouri, this is the exhale game. Ball State has just enough pop in the passing game to push the ball deep from time to time and challenge the OU secondary that made a few mistakes against the Seminoles and struggled at times to contain James Franklin and the Mizzou passing attack. The Sooners are giving up over 260 yards per game, and Ball State, unlike last year, is equipped to take advantage.
Why Oklahoma Might Win: The OU offense can turn it on whenever it wants to. All it needs it a few drives and the Sooner attack could put this thing away, or at least force Ball State to take several big chances.
The Sooner offensive line is doing a phenomenal job at keeping Landry Jones upright, allowing just one sack in the first three games, and when it needs to pound away, it can do it. Ball State has been getting plenty of production from the pass rush to save a run defense that’s struggling to come up with stops. It wasn’t even close against the Army option attack last week, giving up 402 yards, but it’s not doing much to stop anyone else either. The secondary isn’t anything special and doesn’t have the talent to be even close to stopping the OU receiving corps, even a banged up one.
Oklahoma’s linebackers are playing well, and even though the run defense has been a bit shaky at times, this week shouldn’t be a problem against a Ball State ground game that got stuffed could by South Florida. The Cardinals ran well in the other three games, but USF was the one team with any athleticism on the slate and it took 33 carries to get to 77 yards. OU won’t allow more than 100 yards on the ground, and Ball State won’t ever be in control of the game.
What To Watch Out For: Ball State’s success has come because the lines have been good, the defense is coming up with the big play when it has to, and the quarterback play has been terrific. Sophomore Keith Wenning is a big, strong passer who was brought in to upgrade the air attack, and he had some decent moments last year showing great upside. Now he’s rolling under the new coaching staff with completing 73% of his throws with seven touchdown passes, no picks, and few mistakes. He’s 6-4, 220 pounds, and a big-time recruit for the program who’s coming into his own. A late bloomer who was given the option to walk on at Ohio State, he’s smart, has a big arm, and he’s good enough to give OU a few problems.
Oklahoma’s Landry Jones is getting the respect from the NFL scouts, projected to be a top five overall pick if he comes out, but he has to cut down on the interceptions. Tremendous against Missouri with 448 yards and three touchdowns, he also threw two picks for the second game in a row, and now he has given away ten interceptions in his last seven games. Just to show he can, he needs to go a game without giving the ball away.
What Will Happen: Oklahoma will get up big right away, and the early in the third quarter all thoughts will turn to Texas. Ball State will bomb away to make the score look cosmetically better, but it won’t be a game after the first quarter.
CFN Prediction: Oklahoma 41 … Ball State 16
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