We've already looked at the matchups when OU has the ball. Here are some of my keys when the Sooners are on defense.
Go deep. (Please.)
I don't blame any members of Sooner Nation who are still scarred from the magical night J.T. Barrett and Ohio State receiver Noah Brown shared last year versus Oklahoma. The two hooked up for four touchdowns, which accounted for more than half of Brown's seven scores in the entirety of 2016.
Still, based on what I've seen since then, that's the way you want to make the Buckeyes beat you.
Barrett is passable as a deep-ball thrower, but it's far from his strongest suit. More importantly, OSU lacks players in the receiving corps who can create separation and make catches down the field with consistency. Juniors Parris Campbell and Johnnie Dixon can do lots of damage in catch-and-run situations off of short throws. I'd rather dare Barrett to try to connect with them going deep than hitting them off short routes.
What might that mean for OU's defensive scheme?
A year ago, OSU racked up 83 of its 152 passing yards and scored three TDs by picking on OU's beleaguered tandem of Parrish Cobb and Michiah Quick at right cornerback. This season, the Sooners have a more reliable option in Parnell Motley to pair with star cover man Jordan Thomas.
To me, that sets up well for at least starting in man-free Cover 1 with press coverage from the corners. Put Motley and Thomas on islands and free up the safeties to help underneath and in the middle of the field. You don't see much of that from Mike Stoops' defenses, but OSU doesn't run your typical Big 12 version of the spread.
Simplifying life for Kenneth Murray.
The biggest concern for OU's defense in my mind is freshman MIKE linebacker Kenneth Murray. His presence there speaks to Stoops' philosophy of working to get his best 11 on the field. As talented as Murray may be, though, this is a tall order for a rookie.
Expect OSU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson to try to exploit Murray's inexperience. For his part, Stoops might want to think about slimming down the middle linebacker's responsibilities for this particular game, assuming that's even possible.
Watching the weakside.
Urban Meyer's offense excels in manipulating defenses into favorable matchups via formation and alignment. Last season against OU, OSU overloaded the strong side of its formations to take advantage of the Sooners' weakside run defense.
The new one-gap defensive scheme and maturation of 3-tech tackle Neville Gallimore might change the calculus for that kind of maneuver this time around, but it still bears watching on Saturday night.