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Enemy Recon: Crimson & Cream Machine

Hope Bob Stoops reads this to know what he's up against

Just researching the games, trying to predict outcomes and even sending our roving Muncie bureau chief Edge to Norman, Oklahoma isn’t enough. Oh no, Cardinals fans, we have to get the scoop. And what better way to do that then to reach out to our friends across the blogosphere who know their team as well as we know Ball State. Today’s guest? Oklahoma experts Crimson and Cream Machine. Check out their answers below and follow the links for our answers to their questions and the OTP guest spot on their podcast.

OTP: As we talked about on the podcast, the offense for BSU takes what the defense gives them. What concerns do you have about the OU defense? Obviously there’s a talent gap, but where are the weaknesses for the Sooners on the defensive side of the ball?

CCM: Oklahoma is inexperienced in the secondary particularly at the safety spot. In all three games this season there has been a breakdown in the secondary that has cost Oklahoma points. Two of those were safety Javon Harris who actually leads the team in interceptions but takes a lot of risks and has gotten lost in coverage a few times. That’s a good place to start.

OTP: The timing of this game is curious. Do you think the players and staff may be glimpsing ahead to the Red River Shootout next week against Texas? Has Stoops and company been able to keep the team focused on the one game at a time mentality in recent years?

CCM: I absolutely think they’re looking towards Texas next week. I know I am! However, there are some things that need to be addressed and fine tuned before the Sooners get to the Cotton Bowl on the 8th. I already mentioned the safety positions in the secondary but there’s also an issue on the offensive line where starting center Ben Habern suffered a fractured arm last week and now Gabe Ikard will slide over from guard to snap the ball. There are a lot of people curious to see how that works out.

Oklahoma was flat last week against Missouri and they know it. Coming off a huge win at Florida State they just didn’t play with the same emotion and intensity that we saw in the first two games. Are they looking at Texas? No doubt! However, this team will be focused and poised on Saturday evening because they know that will be key in getting fully prepped for the Longhorns.

OTP: Offensively for the Sooners, what should BSU fans expect? We’ve seen a watered down version of the OU attack with Kevin Wilson at IU in the season opener, but aside from the difference in athleticism, what are the areas to key on for the BSU defense?

CCM: Oklahoma is still “finding” their offensive identity under new coordinators Josh Heupel and Jay Norvell. They’ll continue the fast paced attack that started under Wilson and will be committed to passing the ball all over the field with the plethora of receiving talent they have. I also think they’re still working out some kinks in the running game and will try to shore it up a bit.

OTP: BSU has had its fair share of hostile road environments in recent memory against teams like Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa. How’s the environment at OU compared to some of the other venues you may have seen? Are the fans taking this game and opponent lightly?

CCM: I think BSU fans who travel to Norman will really enjoy the environment. Hopefully they’ll take time to stroll through Heisman Park on the east side of the stadium and also take in some tailgating. Every fanbase has their share of jacktards but for the most part OU fans are known for their hospitality.

There are several things that make Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium different from others. You team is visiting the home of seven national champions and they’ll be reminded of that when they take the field. The Sooners also have the nation’s longest home winning streak (again the BSU will be reminded of that when they take the field) and the fans have had an influence on that.

Unfortunately the fans are going to be overlooking the Cardinals because Texas is next week. That means the crowd may be deafening at the beginning but could quickly lose interest if the game isn’t close as it moves into the second half.

OTP: As for the game itself, I’ll assume you predict a Sooner win. Do you have a prediction for the flow of the game and the outcome? Is this a blowout for the Sooners with no chance for the Cards? What in your mind constitutes a success for OU?

CCM: I mean absolutely no disrespect in this but if the Sooners are legitimate national championship contenders then there’s no way this game should be close. I expect the Sooners to jump out to a huge lead in the first half and then put it on cruise control in the second half. I’m predicting a 48-9 OU win.

I think success for Oklahoma would be not turning the ball over and showing that the secondary can play a complete game without a massive breakdown. This biggest thing is for OU to come out of this game healthy.

Big thanks to Crimson and Cream Machine for reaching across the aisle this week for some build up to this game. Want some more info and interaction? Of course you do! Check out these morsels…

OTP’s Answers to Crimson and Cream’s Questions you can check out here.

Crimson and Cream Machine’s Podcast with Fearless Leader Previewing the Cardinals you can check out here.

Enemy Recon: South Florida

Rocky the Bull gives Charlie Cardinal a run and that means a lot from us.

Saturday marks the return to the football field for the Cardinals after the beatdown of the Hoosiers in Lucas Oil Stadium last Saturday. This also marks the first game for OTP’s fearless leader that he’ll be able to devote time on Saturday to cheering the Cards on without interruptions like a family wedding or a bevy of IU coeds that were surprisingly impressed that a BSU football blogger not only existed but would spend the game at Scotty’s Brewhouse in Bloomington and then meet them at Kilroy’s on Kirkwood. But I digress.

On Saturday, the Cards battle the South Florida Bulls in a game that Vegas feels like won’t be remotely close, as USF was pegged at 23-point favorites at last check. That remarkably high spread probably is a combination of folks thinking USF is the real deal after their upset of Notre Dame and folks thinking IU is far worse than we did before that game last weekend. So rather than rely on the Vegas oddsmakers, we decided to reach out to our friends across the blogosphere at VoodooFive, the SBNation home of the USF Bulls. Our awesome questions and their equally awesome responses…

OverThePylon: First of all, congrats on the win versus Notre Dame. In looking at the box score and the flukey nature of the delays, the turnovers, and the dominance via the stats, is this a win that USF fans feel good about or is there reason for worry? More importantly, I assume the win was one of the biggest in program history. Agreed? Worried about a letdown?

Vodoo5: I think most USF fans will feel great about the win even though Notre Dame crippled themselves with so many mistakes. Coach Holtz preached throughout the week that the Bulls’ defense just needed the Irish to keep snapping the ball. As long as they kept the Irish out of the end zone it gave the Bulls an opportunity to capitalize on possible miscues, and they did that to perfection. On offense, the Bulls kept it simple with a grind it out game plan to keep the Irish from collecting a big play on defense. Just the way Skip drew it up.

I think this is easily one of the Top 5 victories in USF history. The wins over Auburn and West Virginia in 2007 and Florida State in 2009 I think are a little higher but there aren’t many opportunities to beat a team with a history like Notre Dame.

OTP: Fans of BCS conference teams usually look at the MAC like a team not to be worried about. What’s the feeling about this particular opponent in the USF fanbase?

V5: I don’t think USF fans will take Ball State lightly. The victory against Indiana on Saturday showed everyone that you guys are a quality opponent and I came away impressed from watching the game during the week. Any USF fan who thinks that the Bulls just need to show up to win is foolish.

OTP: If you were crafting a gameplan for the Cardinals, what areas offensively and defensively are ripe for exploiting on the Bulls?

V5: I think your gameplan against Indiana in the first half would be the way to go. USF is pretty thin at defensive back after you get past the starting four, and the Bulls are content with being nickled and dimed instead of giving up the big play. Also the Bulls are a little thin at DT due to injuries to Demi Thompson and Todd Chandler’s ineligibility so those zone reads with Edwards could be effective.

On defense, try to keep B.J. Daniels in the pocket. Although he did well last week, Daniels has been pressured into some bad decisions before if he can’t create something with his legs. If he’s able to break loose for a couple big runs, look out though.

OTP: Who are some key players that BSU fans need to watch to try and tell early the outcome of the contest based on their performance?

V5: On offense, the two people to look for is QB B.J. Daniels and WR Sterling Griffin. Daniels really had a good game against Notre Dame. Obviously the stats won’t show it, but B.J. went through his progressions well and almost always found the open receiver. Daniels ran the ball effectively when needed, and had a knack of picking up 4 yards on 3rd down when USF needed 3 by whichever means necessary.

Griffin was primed for a big 2010 season before he had a fluke ankle injury during summer workouts and was forced to redshirt last year. Sterling was in a position battle with Terrence Mitchell after spring practice, but he excelled in fall camp and solidified his spot on the roster. Griffin found a way to get open on Saturday, and Daniels rewarded him with a 8 catch, 75 yard day.

On defense, watch out for DE Ryne Giddins. The sophomore was the highest prep player to ever sign with USF straight out of high school, and is primed to breakout this season. If he’s able to get a sack on Keith Wenning early on in the game, it will free up our other DL like Porkchop Grissom and Patrick Hampton.

OTP: Predictions on not only the score but the flow of the game?

V5: The line for this game (USF -23) is absurd. I think Ball State will slow down the game as much as you can with the spread and keep this really close for 3 quarters, but USF will slowly pull away in the 4th. I think the Bulls win a tight one 34-24.

An opposing fanbase that’s respectful and thinks the Cards are legit?!? After our experience against the Hoosiers that’s such a refreshing change of pace. Definitely check out VoodooFive, and you can see our responses to their questions about the Cardinals here.