clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Oklahoma Sooners Football Preview: Alamo Bowl vs Arizona Wildcats

The Sooners try to close the season with their 11th win as they prepare to head to the SEC.

TCU v Oklahoma Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

What’s good?

What a bowl season it has been. So much to take in and try to factor into this one. When the regular season ends, we have become accustomed to seeing names in the portal immediately, coaches changing hands, seniors sitting out, and much more college football chaos. Feels like the Sooners have a ton of that heading into this game against Arizona. And yet, things appear to be in a healthy spot.

A new quarterback, a new play-caller, and a new offensive line make this thing fun to anticipate. These are the best games for fans. No matter what happens, you just get to be excited for every glimmer of talent you see from the young guys. We all remember Gavin Sawchuck last year against Florida State. That is the part you hold on to. Not the loss at the hands of an eventual undefeated team the following season.

What will I be watching?

  • Let's start with the new kid on the block pulling the trigger. Jackson Arnold comes into a situation that isn’t perfect, but also not all that bad. With his play caller taking a new gig, the offense likely won’t be exactly the same as it was all season. Fortunately for him, there is continuity on the offensive staff with Seth Littrell and Joe Jon Finley now running the show. Arnold has shown some moments that make you believe in the talent promised. He is all the obvious things you think of compared to Gabriel, but for the sake of word count, I will list them out for you. Bringing much more explosive athletic ability to the table, especially in the run game. From the little we have seen this year, it does feel like Aronld has a little of that hyper-efficiency to the table similar to Jalen Hurts. When I think of Hurts, I think that he gets every obvious yard available. It might not be flashy, but he very rarely backtracks or cuts, leading to negative plays. Arnold also brings the big arm, which I am sure will be uncorked at some point. Mostly though, I am excited to see his attitude on the field. How does he act? What his emotion? How does he talk to his teammates? How does he talk to the opponents? Always fun to see the new leadership taking the field for the first time.
  • Littrell will be calling in the plays and taking over for Jeff Lebby. Lots of people on the internet think this in the long run will be an upgrade. I am open to that idea, but also aware that I have been wrong more times than I can count, and easy answers don’t exist in college football coaching evaluations. Simply put though, here is what I am watching for — 3rd and 6, somewhere between the 30s, is there something drawn up/called that looks easy? I have long been a harsh evaluator of playcalling in this one simple factor — do you make it easier on your players in the big spots? Or harder? We have seen a few clunky 3rd and 4th downs recently. Does that go out with the previous coach, or is there something still left to be fixed?
  • Skipping over the obvious rotating door at the offensive line, I will go a little more niche. I want to see this linebacking core, especially some of the young guys more. Arizona has some pop to them, and one of their big contributors is the run game. Can those guys make it tough on Arizona and force the Wildcats to play behind the chains? We will see Danny Stutsman and Jaren Kanak like we have all season, but with a heavy dose of Kip Lewis, Kobie McKenzie and we hope Lewis Carter. Again, this position is one of my personal favorites to watch, and with Venables being one of the best developers of the position, it leads to me always being dialed into the young guys.

Know your opponent: Arizona Wildcats

  • Jonah Coleman is the straw for this offense. The explosion comes from the passing game for Arizona but the down-to-down efficiency lies at the feet of Coleman. He is averaging over 5.5 yards a carry on first down, allowing this offense to play on its front foot. The young sophomore has shown a knack for the explosive as well, breaking off runs and receptions multiple times over 40 yards. Coleman took over the backfield in week 5 and never gave back the reigns after a 180-yard day against USC. In every game in which he has at least 8 carries, he has a run over 12 yards. The Sooners will have their hands full with this Wildcat.
  • Noah Fifita and Tetairoa McMillan are the hammer and nail here. Fifita, the freshman QB, really caught fire in the late part of the year pushing the ball downfield. In every game in which he started, he’s had a completion percentage above 70%, with the exception of their win against Colorado. Fifita’s favorite target is the deep threat McMillan, who has about half the receiving yards of this Arizona passing offense when it’s been led by Fifita. McMillan is one of two Wildcat receivers with double-digit touchdowns. Bowman and the other members of this OU secondary will have to be disciplined against Arizona, as they can and have made teams pay this season for their mistakes.
  • Taylor Upshaw and Jacob Manu are the two linebackers for this defense and the two stars. They lead the team in sacks and are the big playmakers for Arizona. The offense for the Wildcats is scary, this defense though is not. The Sooners will have chances with Jackson Arnold to control possessions and score points. They have to take advantage of that if they want to win this bowl game.

Score Prediction

While transparently I am a little worried that this is the second straight bowl opponent that seems to be coming in close to full strength coming off last season against Florida State, for some reason I am just feeling the Seth Littrell hype train coming down the tracks. A simple offense against the Wildcats should put up some big numbers and get everyone excited for next year. I am feeling points and a lot of them.

Oklahoma - 44

Arizona - 20

Talk to you next season, knuckleheads.