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August 4, 2010
Border Battle: Arkansas vs. Oklahoma
THE TEAMS: Ark. | Okla. VOTE: Who wins? MORE: Mo. vs. Kan. | Pa. vs. N.J. | Ohio vs. Mich.
Though there is no annual matchup between Arkansas and Oklahoma or Arkansas and Oklahoma State in college football, the bordering states and their comparable talent production on the football field would lend to a natural rivalry that has never quite materialized.
Since nothing has been settled on the field, a hypothetical all-star game between the best of each state in the class of 2011 seems a necessity.
Both states have similar strengths in the class of 2011 and it all starts at the quarterback position. On the Arkansas side of the field, Rivals100 Auburn commit Kiehl Frazier is one of the top quarterbacks in the nation. He is a proven winner with great size, arm strength and athleticism. Frazier's presence at quarterback should create a lot of confidence offensively for Arkansas as well as some offensive versatility with Frazier's ability to run.
For Oklahoma, Kendal Thompson is a similar prospect in that he is an accurate passer that also possesses a lot of athleticism. He isn't as physically imposing as Frazier and is a step behind in his passing tools and polish but there is no doubt that the Sooner commit has plenty of big play ability and all the talent he needs to lead his team to a victory.
Even beyond Thompson and Frazier, both states have great depth at the position. If Frazier goes down, Arkansas commit Brandon Allen steps right in with a big arm and passing ability. For Oklahoma, baseball star Archie Bradley is very capable waiting in the wings if needed. Both Thompson and Bradley were participants in the prestigious Elite 11 camp along with Frazier so it is clear that there's no shortage of capable arms.
Though the quarterback position allows both teams the opportunity to win the game, it's hard not to give the edge to Frazier and Arkansas in that department. Frazier is one of the most highly touted passers to come out of Arkansas in some time and his success on the field backs up that hype.
The competence that each state possesses at the quarterback position is crucial because neither team looks like it would have a major run game threat. Frazier would likely operate out of the shotgun, distributing the ball to several big, physical targets such as Davyon McKinney, Kyle Coleman and Arkansas tight end commit Demetrius Dean.
Perhaps the best option for Arkansas at running back would be Treyvon Daniels out of Pine Bluff (Ark.) Dollarway Senior. Daniels may even be better classified as a fullback than a running back but he has great pass-catching skills out of the backfield and would certainly be valuable as an extra pass-protector in the backfield.
The weapons at Thompson's disposal for Oklahoma also don't offer major big-play threats in the way of running backs but Tulsa commit Zack Langer and Enid's Jonathan Burton would be capable of controlling the football and maintaining the time of possession.
In Oklahoma's receiving corps players like Tyrequek Zimmerman and David Glidden are less of the possession receivers than the big targets on the Arkansas side as much as they are players that make plays after the catch and like to turn short completions into big gains with their elusiveness.
On the offensive line, Oklahoma boasts tremendous depth with players such as Stanford commit Garrett Gladd, Arkansas commit Austin Beck and Oklahoma commit Dylan Dismuke but it's hard to argue that there is more all-around talent on the line for Oklahoma than that of the Arkansas line.
Arkansas is led by Brey Cook, a Rivals100 prospect that offers the complete offensive tackle package. Fellow Arkansas commit Mitch Smothers is not far behind Cook, evidenced by his extensive offer list. Marcus Danenhauer adds a third Arkansas commit to the offensive line while Ole Miss commit Mitch Hall and Kansas commit Travis Bodenstein round out the first five.
With great size and great pass-blocking ability, it is hard to see the Arkansas line making things too tough on their already talented quarterback to execute.
Another advantage that Arkansas would enjoy is that its strong offensive line would be facing a thin defensive front four for Oklahoma. Three-star Hunter Davis is a highly regarded Tulsa commit at defensive end but the remaining three prospects - Connor Myers, Davion Pearson and Brentom Todd - all maintain more of a sleeper label than anything else.
Fortunately for Oklahoma, its linebacking group behind those four is one of its real strengths. Led by four-star Dominique Petties, Oklahoma will have three Big 12 level defenders hunting down the football including Kentrell Brothers and Kansas commit Jake Love.
Conversely for Arkansas, a relatively strong defensive line that includes Arkansas commit Grady Ollison and powerful Kansas State interior lineman Samuel Harvill would need to compensate for a linebacking group that is unheralded and under the radar.
The strength of those Oklahoma linebackers combined with the overachieving play of some of its interior players like Connor Myers may give it the edge in the front seven and possibly the defense overall.
In the secondary, Arkansas has at least one impact player in Ole Miss commit Artez Brown but he doesn't quite cancel out the impact that Texas commit Josh Turner can make on a football field for Oklahoma. Turner would have Tulsa commit Dwight Dobbins along side him as well, along with Shevin Patton at safety.
All of that talent on the defensive side of the ball for Oklahoma just might not be enough. Kiehl Frazier's big-play ability and confidence on offense along with the big targets he has to work with and his dominating offensive line would likely be enough to keep that sporadic Arkansas defense on the sideline for much of the game.
Steady ball-movement on offense for Arkansas would keep the Oklahoma squad playing catch-up. Though Thompson, Zimmerman and Glidden would be capable of some big plays, that Arkansas consistency would help it hold onto the lead and take home a 6-point victory.