The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 11th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners hit the road this week, as they invade College Station for a key Big 12 battle with the Texas A&M Aggies.
Bob Stoops' Sooners have struggled a bit outside of Norman this season, with narrow victories over Cincinnati (31-29) and Texas (28-20) and their only defeat at Missouri (36-27). The team has put some distance between itself and the loss to the Tigers however, following last weekend's 43-10 whipping of Colorado. With the win, Oklahoma moved to 7-1 on the year and 3-1 in conference and sits a half game behind Baylor (4-1) in the Big 12 South.
Mike Sherman's Aggies have struggled with consistency this season, sitting at 5-3 overall and 2-2 in league play. Texas A&M has won two straight games though, including last weekend's 45-27 victory over Texas Tech.
This is the 29th all-time meeting in this series, with Oklahoma holding an 18-10 series advantage. The Sooners have won each of the last seven meetings, but are just 4-5 in games played in College Station.
The Oklahoma offense is one of the most explosive in the country and last week was certainly evidence of that. The Sooners racked up a whopping 635 yards of total offense, fueled by QB Landry Jones' 453 yards passing and four TDs. Three of those scores went to All-American candidate Ryan Broyles, who set the school record for receiving yards in a game with 208.
Stoops is always amazed at Broyles' ability to make plays.
"We try to move him around and give him different opportunities. Boy, that guy's something. I can't tell you how many times I say it over my headset. That guy is just amazing, what he's able to do. Just a great competitor."
It has been a lot of the same for OU this season on offense, with the team averaging 35.8 ppg, on 473.4 yards. The passing attack is the weapon of choice, ranking fifth nationally at 326.1 ypg. Jones has been lethal with his arm, completing 67.2 percent of his passes, for 2,547 yards and 21 TDs against a mere five interceptions.
Broyles is one of the top playmakers in the country, having already amassed 78 receptions, for 1,018 yards and eight scores.
The ground game plays second-fiddle in Norman, but can be potent just the same, at 147.2 yards per outing, Tailback DeMarco Murray spearheads the rushing attack, pacing the team with 752 yards and 12 rushing TDs.
The OU defense has been a little erratic this season, but is still getting the job done when it counts. The Sooners are yielding 20.0 ppg and 373.8 yards of total offense, but have made big plays with 19 sacks and 16 takeaways.
Travis Lewis is one of the premier linebackers in the country and paces Oklahoma in tackles (74). Jonathan Nelson (62 tackles, one INT) and Quinton Carter (47 tackles, two INTs) headline the play in the secondary, while rush end Jeremy Beal (35 tackles, 13.5 TFLs, 6.0 sacks, one fumble recovery) is the team's resident All-American up front.
The Aggies put on an offensive clinic last week as well, churning out 623 yards, the most in the Mike Sherman era. In just a two-game span, junior Ryan Tannehill has gone from productive receiver to ultra-productive QB, including a school-record 449 yards and four TDs against the Red Raiders.
Tannehill has now completed 72.9 percent of his passes, for 629 yards, with seven TDs and just one INT in his limited action. It certainly helps to have one of the Big 12's top receivers in Jeff Fuller on the outside. Fuller has 55 receptions thus far, for 858 yards and 11 scores.
The Texas A&M ground attack was two-pronged with Christian Michael (5.0 ypc, four TDs) and Cyrus Gray (5.3 ypc, five TDs) both showing the ability to move the chains and get in the end zone. However, Michael has been lost for the year to a broken leg.
Gray knows the offense must remain focused on the task at hand.
"We've won two games in a row, but that's behind us now. Our main focus is Oklahoma. They are a great team and we will have to prepare great for them. I think we can have great success, we just have to continue practicing hard and focus on details."
In all, the Aggies are rolling up an impressive 485.8 yards of total offense per game, but the production has been tempered a bit by a disturbing 21 turnovers this year.
A&M has had its ups and downs on the defensive side of things this season, allowing 21.5 ppg. The unit has been solid against the run (94.9 ypg, 3.0 ypc), but has been generous against the pass (250.1 ypg).
Junior LB Garrick Williams paces the team in tackles with 63. He is followed by senior LB Michael Hodges (57 stops), who has racked up 5.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks and two INTs. Freshman DE Damontre Moore (25 tackles), has made an immediate impact up front, with 6.5 TFLs and a team-high 5.5 sacks. Defensive backs Terrence Frederick (35 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, one INT) and Dustin Harris (24 tackles, three INTs) have led the way in the secondary.