Well, here we finally are. I was going for just the right amount of hyperbole on that subhead…success? I certainly can’t remember a bigger opening weekend of college football. But with the playoff system now in place and more and more teams not afraid to schedule big contests early, this is likely to be the opening weekend norm for years to come. But alas the wait is over, and the night before has finally arrived. We’ve led you all the way up to this point as we sit just a matter of hours away from Kickoff 2016. So here are just the last few pressing thoughts on my mind before Saturday...
I won’t get too in-depth here, but couple things...
1) How disciplined does OU start against Houston? We’ve seen it all over the years, and my big concerns are drive-killing penalties and/or drops from the two main question marks coming in on the offense (offensive line, receiving core) will certainly keep a winnable game closer than need be. I expect Herman (and Applewhite) to mix in some tricks, but discipline on OU’s D-Line and especially the young LBs knowing and keeping their assignments will determine much on defense. And of course, “T” is for “TACKLE!”
2) OU Run Game vs. UH Defensive Front: The key matchup to watch especially early for the Sooners on offense, as Houston’s defensive strength is their front, as they bring in a much less experienced secondary than the one that picked off Florida State four times. If the Sooners O-line can come together and block effectively for at least an early big run or two, then despite the stunts and blitzes Herman likes to bring, the Cougars will have to play honest. And when the field opens up OU will have a clear advantage.
3) Who steps up as Baker’s go-to receiver? Westbrook? Andrews? Mixon? Committee? It’d be great to see the run get going early, so as things wear on, Baker can establish rhythm with one or more of the guys.
4) On defense, this is fairly obvious, as we’re now familiar with Greg Ward, Jr. The defensive line and backers are on high alert from the get-go. Ward and Co. will attack this part of the defense early and often.
I do expect things to be close early. But as long as OU doesn’t sleepwalk into NRG and establishes the run at least by the second or early third quarter, the talent and size advantage will eventually win out. My score prediction: 44-24 OU.
The preseason No. 3 Sooners will undoubtedly be pushed by some foes this season. As the staff shared our predictions on how this season will fare for the Sooners, here are my thoughts on how The Others fare in the Big XII:
- A road test against a tough and tested TCU team is the obvious top in-conference hurdle for the Sooners. Although Kenny Trill© is a step up than Boykin’s backups last season, there’s no Josh Doctson to just throw the ball to. This game could go either way, and I hope the Sooners still have a shot to win the conference and make the CFP if with a loss in Fort Worth. So I’m picking the ‘horns to upset the ‘Frogs to end the season.
- Texas will beat Notre Dame this weekend, gain some momentum but lose to OSU and OU back-to-back, then two weeks later to K-State. The young QB and offense show promise but go flat in Manhattan before rebounding and closing the season with an upset win over TCU in Austin.
- OSU loses @ Baylor, @OU and @TCU, but beats Texas in Stillwater. I’m glad we have the Pokes at home for Bedlam. I expect a healthy Rudolph and his WRs to make noise all season.
- Baylor starts the season 6-0 but loses to Texas, TCU and OU...then to Texas Tech in Lubbock.
- Kansas will continue to play friendlies and looks forward to attending every opponent’s Homecoming this season.
- And Memphis is out as far as joining the Big XII.
You can enjoy Sooner Sports Gameday Central’s coverage to lead you up to the game. And for everything you else you need we’ve got you covered. All systems are go, Sooner Nation. Party hard. Rest well. Get hyped. It’s time. Boomer....!