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OU tries to avenge last season's upset

NORMAN, Okla. -- When Texas A&M visits Owen Field to take on Oklahoma this weekend, it's a scary game for the Sooners. The Aggies have the talent to beat anyone at any time and easily could be undefeated after having held double-digit leads in each of their three losses against Oklahoma State, Missouri and Arkansas.

Here are five key storylines to follow during Texas A&M-Oklahoma:

1. Texas A&M's offensive balance

Texas A&M is averaging 224.5 rushing yards and 295.2 passing yards per game. And quarterback Ryan Tannehill provides a run-pass threat that is difficult to stop. Running backs Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray are a terrific 1-2 duo in the backfield and receivers Jeff Fuller and Ryan Swope make teams pay for focusing on the run.

The Aggies could be the biggest test OU's defense has faced this season. The Sooners will need good games from Travis Lewis, Corey Nelson and Tom Wort to slow the Aggies' running game and make them one-dimensional. And if they do, OU's secondary must play much more sound than they did in the Sooners' loss to Texas Tech two weeks ago.

2. Landry Jones' excellence

Jones enters the game among the nation's leaders in passing yards. The junior has been accurate, hitting on 66.48 percent of his passes, while averaging 386.75 passing yards per game. Receivers Ryan Broyles, Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds each have had big games during Big 12 play, which points to Jones' ability, and willingness, to spread the ball around and simply find the open receiver.

That's bad news for Texas A&M, who enters the game allowing 318.2 passing yards per game, ranking last in the Big 12 in that category. The Aggies have allowed 221 completions in eight games and have recorded only four interceptions on 348 pass attempts against them.

Unless a different squad of Aggies shows up at Owen Field, it could be a long night for Texas A&M's secondary.

3. Replacing Dom

The Sooners will have to replace leading rusher Dominique Whaley against Texas A&M. Since Whaley was injured on the first play against Kansas State, OU got a sampling of how to fill the void against the Wildcats.

Sophomore Roy Finch filled in against KSU with nine carries for 73 yards and seven catches for 69 yards. He has the skill set to fill a DeMarco Murray-type role in the Sooners backfield. Fellow sophomore Brennan Clay should see more snaps as he continues to get healthy after struggling with various injuries.

Whaley's injury should impact Brandon Williams more than any other Sooner. The true freshman was seeing spot duty before Whaley's injury but should see an added workload in OU's final four games. He has speed, acceleration and quickness but will have to limit mental mistakes if he expects to see a lot of playing time.

4. Home mystique

For the past few years road teams have walked onto the Owen Field grass knowing their chances of winning were slim because no opponent had won in Norman since 2005. Their body language often had a defeated look before the game even began.

Not anymore.

Texas A&M walks onto the field knowing Texas Tech, a team the Aggies defeated 45-40 on Oct. 8, beat the Sooners at Memorial Stadium two weeks ago.

The Sooners' home mystique took a serious hit with OU's upset loss to Texas Tech, but Sooners players have expressed a desire to begin another streak. And it's never easy to play on the road in front of 85,000 fans in crimson and cream.

5. Revenge

The Aggies knocked off OU, 33-19, last November in a win that helped spark them to a Cotton Bowl berth.

Several key Sooners, including receiver Kenny Stills, safety Tony Jefferson, linebacker Corey Nelson, safety Aaron Colvin and sophomore Roy Finch have no idea what it is like to defeat the Aggies, but they know what it feels like to lose to them.

While OU coaches and players downplayed the revenge factor heading into this weekend's game, they don't like losing to anyone and definitely remember the feeling of walking off the field with a loss thanks to the Aggies. Expect there to be an extra bit of emotion and enthusiasm when the Sooners see those maroon helmets again.

Brandon Chatmon covers University of Oklahoma sports and recruiting for SoonerNation. He can be reached at bchatmonespn@gmail.com.

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