Going into the Bedlam game it would seem obvious that the top priority for Oklahoma State is to stop the run. After all, Oklahoma’s powerful freshman running back Semaje Perine just broke the NCAA single game rushing record with 427 yards and five touchdowns against Kansas.
But inevitably the Sooners will be forced into passing situations and the Cowboys pass rush, led by sophomore defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, will be asked to stop drives and make big plays that get the defense off the field.
Ogbah, with 11 sacks in 2014, is the first player in the Mike Gundy era to record double-digit sacks in a season. In the opener versus defending national champion Florida State, Ogbah sacked Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston twice in his first career start and the Ogbah momentum has not slowed.
In addition to Ogbah’s 11 sacks he has added 16.5 tackles for a loss. He has improved as a football player, athlete and leader during his time at OSU. When Ogbah arrived in Stillwater he was a 6’4″ 230 pound three-star recruit out of George Bush High School in the Houston area. He has since added size and speed bulking up his now 270 pound frame. Gundy continues to heap praise on Ogbah’s talent and added him to the team’s Leadership Council.
It is uncertain which Oklahoma quarterback Ogbah will be pursing. Trevor Knight suffered a scary neck injury in the Sooners 48-14 home loss to Baylor on Nov. 8. Redshirt freshman Cody Thomas has stepped in and delivered wins over Texas Tech and Kansas. It would be Thomas’ first taste of Bedlam if he makes the start.
Aug 30, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah (38) tackles Florida State Seminoles quarterback Jameis Winston (5) during the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
How will Thomas respond to the intensity of the Bedlam rivalry? A few sacks and relentless pressure from a hyped up Cowboy defense could rattle the young freshman. Perhaps Ogbah can deliver a drive-killing sack at a critical moment or a sack-fumble combination that in a rivalry game could swing momentum in the favor of the visiting underdogs.
For the Pokes to find success in the 2014 version of Bedlam they will need big plays from several sources. Ogbah has been an explosive edge rusher this year and has shown the kind of burst needed to disrupt opposing offenses.
The Cowboys are seeking bowl eligibility and their first win in Norman since 2001. Bedlam games are decided by big plays in big moments and Ogbah has the speed and power to deliver.