Matt Hofeld from the Crimson and Cream Machine blog was nice enough to exchange questions with me this week before the game against Oklahoma. He provides some insight into this season's Oklahoma team.
Paul Conrad: A lot of people, including myself, have moved Nebraska ahead of Oklahoma on the Big 12 Power Rankings. Not surprisingly OU and UNL appear to be on a collision course to play in the last Big 12 Championship. How do you feel OU stacks up against the other teams in the conference? Should OU be on top?
Matt Hofeld: I've actually had Nebraska ahead of Oklahoma in our power rankings for a while now. In my opinion the Huskers have proven to be the most complete team in the Big 12 this season. They're second in the conference in scoring (Oklahoma is 7th) and second in scoring defense (Oklahoma is 6th).
As far as how the Sooners compare to the rest of the conference I would say that at this point OU, Missouri and Oklahoma State are on a second tier below Nebraska and then everyone else. Keep in mind though that is where I have them at this time but that the season is a marathon and not a sprint so there's plenty of time left to both gain and lose ground for all of the Big 12 teams.
PC: Having watched the entire game at the Cotton Bowl, my opinion is that Landry Jones saved OU when he pushed the ball out of bounds at the end of the 4th quarter. He led the offense well throughout the game, but I have a hard time moving him from "Very Good QB" to "Spectacular QB". How do you think he stacks up against the other quarterbacks in the Big 12?
MH: That may have been the best worst play of the season for Oklahoma. I actually don't even think that Landry knocked the ball out of bounds on purpose but just got lucky when he reached for it.
Landry Jones is a very good quarterback and I believe that he's on his way to becoming spectacular but isn't quite there yet. He's been named the Big 12's Offensive Player of the Week twice this season, so far. He's averaging 291 passing yards per game and is currently 5th in the conference in total passing yards (1,457) and has thrown 11 touchdowns to 3 interceptions. Is he the reincarnation of Sam Bradford? No, but he's doing a pretty good job.
PC: Since the new Big 12 schedules have been released, it seems that OU will be playing ISU in November every year. We all know that Texas refuses to play at the North Schools in the cold weather, do you think the weather will have an impact on when OU comes to Ames and it's below freezing with a wind that cuts to the bone?
MH: It tends to get pretty cold in Norman, Oklahoma as well plus this is a team that has won Big 12 Championships in Kansas City during weather that would make even a well digger miserable.
The Sooners typically have a strong running game which is usually adaptable to any type of weather so I don't see them shying away from competition in the north.
PC: What improvements would you most like to see out of the Oklahoma offense and defense on Saturday in the game against Iowa State?
MH: Offensively I'd like to see them get stronger running between the tackles instead of having to bounce everything outside. Defensively the safeties (especially Quintin Carter) need to get a little better at knowing their coverages and not allowing anything over the top. A push up the middle by the defensive line would be nice to see as well.
PC: Bob Stoops has an incredible record when his team is playing in Norman. They're a massive 23.5 point favorite against ISU. Who would you take against the spread?
MH: To be perfectly honest I've got to admit that I pay absolutely no attention to to point spreads and didn't even know what it was until I read this question. I think that ISU will struggle to contain Oklahoma's offense and DeMarco Murray is going to have a big day but I also think that the Cyclones will be able to move the ball at times as well. Based on what we've seen this far from the Sooners there's no reason to expect a three touchdown plus win unless the front of your jersey says Florida State. I say that the Sooners win fairly comfortably but by 17-20 points and not 23 plus.