Lincoln Riley knows the importance of Bedlam.
While he admits his perspective on the rivalry was different before he arrived at Oklahoma (5-2, 4-2 Big 12) from Texas Tech, he said in a Tuesday Zoom presser he sees the impact it could have on the No. 18 Sooners’ conference title aspirations. Bedlam will be as crucial as ever when No. 14 Oklahoma State (5-1, 4-1 Big 12) comes to Norman on Saturday.
“(Obviously) it should be an important game in the conference as it has become over the last several years. This year is certainly no different. And (it) should be, obviously, a lot of fun here in Norman Saturday night. (I) can't wait to play. (We’re) excited, certainly, coming off the bye week and with the momentum we have as a football team, and (we’re) looking forward to a really, really strong challenge and a chance to play a great football team.”
Here’s what else Riley had to say Tuesday ahead of Bedlam:
Tylan Wallace compared to Trejan Bridges
Sophomore receiver Trejan Bridges has yet to play a snap for the Sooners in 2020 due to an ongoing drug suspension, but that hasn’t stopped him from drawing comparisons to other high profile players.
Riley said Bridges’ talents are most like that of Oklahoma State receiver Tylan Wallace, a senior with 588 yards and four touchdowns this season who the Sooners will be responsible for stopping on Saturday. Wallace will present a significant challenge for OU’s Speed D in the contest.
“I mean, our players are used to going against good receivers, but I don't know anybody's exactly, you know like, can you carbon copy a guy (and) his strengths, weaknesses, all that. Tylan doesn’t have that many weaknesses. I mean as far as a skill set, I mean the guy we have that’s most like him is he and Trejan Bridges are, their games are very very very similar. They’re remarkably similar in my opinion.
“But yeah, I mean it's, our guys get to go up against good receivers, but you know, Tylan’s tremendous and does some, just he does some things very, very well that are difficult to defend. I'm glad that our guys get to go up against good receivers, but it's gonna matter what they do on Saturday night. Like I said, we’ve got a lot of respect for him. (He’s a) tremendous player and (we) certainly have a lot of respect for the challenge of trying to contain him.”
Defending Chuba Hubbard
OSU running back Chuba Hubbard was a first team All-American in 2019 after rushing for 2,094 yards and 21 touchdowns. In 2020, he has run for 581 yards and five touchdowns, and is continuing to pick up the pace, presenting another tall task for Alex Grinch’s unit.
“It's gonna be a challenge. You can stop him five times in a row and then with his speed and the combination of speed and power, he can pop one and make you forget about those five or six stops pretty quick. He's a tremendous player. He's got a great feel for the run game, great patience, and then just kind of knows when to go and has a real gift for separating from people, and is incredibly consistent. He’s a big time challenge for us. We have played well there, but this guy is as good as anybody playing college football.”
COVID-19 impacting Bedlam
The OU athletics department released COVID-19 test results for Nov. 8-14 on Monday, revealing 20 active cases among student-athletes. Coronavirus swirled around Oklahoma’s first three games of 2020, but Riley said Tuesday he doesn’t expect it to threaten the Sooners’ Bedlam plans.
“We've done pretty good as a program. ... Like we’ve said all year, you're one test away from your perspective changing. But we've had a stretch here that since the first three games it rocked us pretty good and since then ... we've been able to steady the ship a little bit on the COVID side of it. And that's been a positive. It hasn't for us in the last several weeks, has not had a huge impact. But again, we're kind of living day to day, and so we’ve gotta keep our guard up and keep doing the best we can.”