Know the foe: BYU welcomes powerhouse Oklahoma to Provo with bowl chances in sight

Less than a month ago BYU fans were in an incredibly optimistic place.

The Cougars were 5-2 with five games left to go and only one win away from bowl eligibility in their inaugural Big 12 season. Now after three straight losses — including a 45-13 home drubbing from Iowa State — the fans levels of optimism have dropped substantially.

Oklahoma comes to Provo on Saturday with conference championship aspirations and a chance to compete in a New Years Six bowl game. In their final Big 12 season the Sooners are looking to finish on a high note. A loss to BYU could prove to be catastrophic for a program that holds itself to a championship standard.

A familiar face at QB

The 2020 BYU Football season was magical for Cougar fans. The season was capped off by a dominant 49-23 victory over UCF in the Bocca Raton Bowl. On the opposing sideline was an impressive sophomore quarterback from Mililani Hawaii. 3 years later Dillon Gabriel has become one of the top quarterbacks in the nation.

Through 10 games the Oklahoma senior has thrown for 3,069 yards, 25 touchdowns, and only 5 interceptions. His QBR of 86.1 is 4th best nationally, and he come into Provo on the heels of arguably his best game of the season where he threw for 423 yards and 5 touchdowns against a West Virginia team that blew out BYU 37-7 2 weeks ago. The reality is that Dillon Gabriel is the best quarterback this Cougars defense will play this season. Against a struggling BYU defense Dillon Gabriel is likely looking to redeem himself from a loss three years ago in Boca Raton.

Other Offensive Threats

Outside of Gabriel the Sooner’s offense has proven to be one of the most talented rosters in the country. The unit is ranked #1 in the Big 12 Conference in terms of total offense averaging 505.4 yards per game. This includes a conference best 323.8 yards passing, and 181.6 yards rushing which ranks 7th in the Big 12.

Oklahoma is paced by a talented group of receivers. Drake Stoops has been fantastic for the Sooners grabbing 62 receptions for 692 yards and 9 touchdowns. Freshman Nic Anderson has also accounted for 616 yards and 8 touchdowns on only 24 receptions which is good for and incredible 35.7 yard per catch average. Jalil Farooq has also hauled in 35 passes for an impressive 522 yards and 2 touchdown. And Andrel Anthony has been productive in his receiving efforts for Oklahoma with 27 catches and 429 yards to go along with 1 touchdown.

In terms of the running game, the Sooners have produced 4 rushers with over 300 yards on the season. Tawee Walker leads the effort with 442 yards and 6 touchdowns. Freshman Gavin Sawchuck has rushed for 373 yard and 4 touchdowns as well. Dillon Gabriel has also shown his versatility by rushing for 337 yards and a team leading 11 rushing touchdowns this season. Marcus Major rounds out the Sooner rushing attack with 308 yards and a touchdown.

Another stout defense

The Cougars struggling offense will once again face a top tier defensive unit this Saturday on senior day. The Sooner’s defense have held opponents have been held to an average of 377.3 yards yards a game. Oklahoma has also held their foes to only 19.8 points per game which ranks 3rd in the Big 12.

Led by an elite group of linebackers and a stout defensive front opponents have struggles to run the ball on the Sooner’s defense. Their opponent average of 138.4 rushing yards per game is 4th best in the conference.

The defensive secondary and passing defense has also been phenomenal as they have forced an incredible 17 interceptions on the season which is tied for first nationally. This combined with 4 fumble recoveries has given Oklahoma a +9 in the turnover margin this season. These numbers are good for 7th nationally.


On paper Oklahoma is better than BYU. However, BYU holds the series advantage 2-0 with the last win coming in the 2009 classic at Cowboy Stadium. A win on Saturday in front of a sold out LaVell Edwards stadium on senior night would surely be an all-time performance for a struggling BYU team with bowl game hopes on the line. With the Sooners darting for the SEC an opportunity to host an opponent of this caliber will be rare. Hopefully, the Cougar faithful will show out and help this BYU Football program to a historical Saturday morning victory.

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