Big 12 Title Preview
In this year's title game Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium, it's the No. 4 Sooners who will try to avoid an upset against the No. 19 Tigers - and stay in the BCS' top two - as star quarterback Sam Bradford plays hurt.
Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made Oklahoma –16.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 84% of bets for this game have been placed on Oklahoma –16.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
By entering this week No. 2 in the BCS rankings, Oklahoma (11-1, 7-1) beat out Texas and Texas Tech for a spot in Saturday's game and a chance to win a third consecutive Big 12 title game. All three schools finished tied for first in the South Division and the Sooners advanced on the conference's fifth tiebreaker - BCS rankings.
Oklahoma moved past Texas in those standings, even though it lost to the Longhorns earlier this season, by putting up 60-plus points against ranked teams in the past two weeks. The Sooners demolished then-No. 2 Texas Tech 65-21 and defeated then-No. 11 Oklahoma State 61-41 last Saturday.
"I still think that we have to go out there and prove something to everyone and prove to them that we do deserve to be at this game," Bradford said. "So I think it felt like it'll give us some extra motivation this week."
The latest win might have come at a price. Bradford tore ligaments in his non-throwing hand against Oklahoma State and will have surgery after Saturday's game.
The right-handed Bradford will play against Missouri with a soft cast.
"We should be able to do everything as normal," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "We've had time to plan for it now and to get a brace or some kind of soft cast to protect it."
Bradford's two touchdown passes in a 24-point second half lifted Oklahoma to a 38-17 win over then-No. 1 Missouri in last year's Big 12 title game at San Antonio. It's one of only three games in three seasons in which Tigers star quarterback Chase Daniel failed to throw a touchdown pass as his team was prevented a chance to play for the national championship.
Missouri (9-3, 5-3) now could knock the Sooners out of a potential trip to the BCS title game, but it's won only once in the past 19 meetings. The teams did not play this year.
While Oklahoma is appearing in its seventh Big 12 championship game - it's won five - the Tigers are seeking their first win in this game after last year's debut.
"This is where we wanted to be, and it's finally here," Daniel said. "There's 10 other teams that would die to be in our spot. We deserve to be here, we won the North (Division), and we're excited about the chance to play."
While Daniel's 34 touchdown passes are a career high and tie him for sixth nationally, Bradford leads the country with 46. He had four last week, breaking the school records for TD passes in a season and a career (82).
However, the injured hand also led to Bradford's two fumbled snaps - his first in two seasons. He recovered one on a fourth-down play late in the third quarter and scored a 2-yard touchdown.
Bradford has topped 300 yards in each of the past four games, throwing for 17 touchdowns. He's helped the Sooners score 58 or more points in five straight games and rise to No. 1 nationally in scoring - 53.3 points per game.
Oklahoma, ranked third in the country in total offense with 556.7 yards per game, has gained at least 500 in six straight games and could have a pair of 1,000-yard rushers by the end of Saturday's game.
DeMarco Murray leads the team with 1,002 yards and Chris Brown has 988. The two have combined to rush for 31 touchdowns.
If Oklahoma does have a liability, it might be a defense that has allowed at least 21 points in seven straight games and has given up 400 or more yards in six of those contests.
The Big 12, however, has not proved a showcase for defense, and Missouri's performance at Arrowhead in a 40-37 loss to rival Kansas last week was a shining example.
Despite taking two leads in the fourth quarter, the Tigers couldn't stop the Jayhawks from scoring two touchdowns in the final 4:26 - the last coming with 27 seconds left on a fourth-and-7 pass.
The presence of 10 returning starters has done little to help the Missouri defense this year. After giving up 23.3 points per game last season, the Tigers have yielded 24.7 in 2008. They rank last in the Big 12 and 116th of 119 FBS teams against the pass, giving up 277.0 yards per game.
Daniel, meanwhile, is coming off one of his shakiest performances of the season. He started the game 0-for-6 with an interception, fumbled at the end of a 54-yard run and was sacked for a safety. Missouri needed 16 1/2 minutes to get its initial first down.
Daniel threw for four touchdowns, but he also had two interceptions for the third time in four games.
A year after he was a Heisman Trophy finalist, Daniel has completed 75.1 percent of his passes - up from 68.2 a year ago, and, with 3,880 yards, he has a shot at topping last season's 4,306. However, Daniel also has a career-high 13 interceptions and has thrown at least one in seven straight games.
"We can't have any turnovers (against Oklahoma)," Daniel said. "If we have any, it's going to be a long day. It all starts with me. I have to do a better job of protecting the football."
Top Betting Trends:
All games in this series since 1992
OKLAHOMA is 6-5 against the spread versus MISSOURI since 1992
OKLAHOMA is 10-1 straight up against MISSOURI since 1992
3 of 5 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL since 1992
Games over the last 3 seasons
OKLAHOMA is 2-1 against the spread versus MISSOURI over the last 3 seasons
OKLAHOMA is 3-0 straight up against MISSOURI over the last 3 seasons
2 of 3 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Key Player Injuries
[OL] Bryan Webb has quit the team. - Personal - 08/16/08
[DE] Michael Keck has quit the team. - Personal - 09/03/08
[LB] Steve Redmond expected to miss entire season - MCL - 09/15/08
[DB] Jonathan Nelson expected to miss 6 weeks - Knee - 09/28/08
[TE] Brody Eldridge is "?". - Ankle - 11/18/08
[WR] Tyler Stradford has left the team. - None - 10/04/08
[DE] Auston English is expected to miss - Knee - 11/16/08
[DE] Alan Davis downgraded to expected to miss. - Knee - 11/18/08
[DE] John Williams is out indefinitely. - Personal - 09/02/08
[LB] Ryan Reynolds out for the season - Knee - 10/11/08
[TE] Eric Mensik is expected to miss at least 4 weeks. - Ankle - 09/24/08
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Posted: 12/2/08 5:43 PM ET