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OU football: 3 keys for Sooners against Oklahoma State

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Kenneth Murray

Junior linebacker Kenneth Murray during the game against TCU Nov. 23.

No. 7 Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) has two more games to strengthen its College Football Playoff resume, and its first test will be against No. 21 Oklahoma State (8-3, 5-3 Big 12).

With a win, the Sooners would set up a top-10 matchup in the Big 12 Championship game in a rematch with No. 9 Baylor on Dec. 7. The winner of that game will be a one-loss conference champion with a strong case for the fourth seed in the College Football Playoff.

Here are three keys for a Sooner win in Bedlam:

Stop Chuba Hubbard

Cowboy running back Chuba Hubbard will be without a doubt the main area of focus for the Sooner defense on Saturday. Hubbard has been the center of the Pokes' offense all season, and he leads the nation in rushing yards with 1,832 and ranks second in rushing touchdowns with 20.

Hubbard has scored at least one touchdown in all but one of Oklahoma State's games this year, with the lone exception being last week in a 20-13 win over West Virginia. His lowest rushing output on the season was a 44-yard performance against McNeese State on Sept. 7, but he got only eight carries that day.

No team has found a perfect formula to stop Hubbard, but if the Sooners can do that, they'll have a much easier time in Stillwater. With quarterback Spencer Sanders and star wide receiver Tylan Wallace missing the game due to injury, Hubbard may be Oklahoma State's only hope to put points on the board.

Focus on running the ball

Perhaps the best way to stop Hubbard will be preventing him from getting the ball in the first place, and a good way to do that would be controlling the clock with a steady run game.

The Sooners had one of their best rushing performances of the season against TCU, with redshirt sophomore running back Kennedy Brooks and senior quarterback Jalen Hurts combining for 322 yards on the ground. This helped the Sooners keep the time of possession for nearly 40 minutes.

With a healthy running game, the Sooners should be able to quiet the rowdy crowd at Boone Pickens Stadium and prevent the Cowboy offense from getting going. If Oklahoma can pull that off, escaping with a win could be much easier.

Avoid turning the ball over

The Sooners were just a handful of plays away from potentially blowing out TCU last Saturday, but turnovers at inopportune times kept the Horned Frogs in the game and made it a 28-24 final score.

The Cowboys are relatively average when it comes to taking the ball away from opponents, as they rank 58th nationally in that category. 

Losing the turnover battle is generally not a good way to win football games, but the Sooners have been able to rattle off three consecutive wins despite struggling with turnovers. It would be in Oklahoma's best interest to not continue to push its luck in that department on Saturday and avoid putting the ball on the ground.

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