v. Oklahoma (2008: 12-2 / National Title Game runner-up)
Player to Watch: Junior QB Sam Bradford
The reigning Heisman Trophy winner returns for his junior campaign and will look to succeed despite losing four lettermen on the offensive line. However, weapons are plentiful for Bradford who has the nation's best tight end in Jermaine Gresham to throw to and a group of young wide outs looking to make an impact. The offense in 2008 was unstoppable. Four games of over 600 yards of total offense, ten games of 500 yards or more, all of which, Bradford was the catalyst for. In 2007, his first season under center, Bradford became a national name at the hands of the Hurricanes when he toasted Miami's defensive backfield for FIVE touchdowns in a 51-13 thumping.
The offensive machine looks to keep running without stopping in 2009. Despite losing four-fifths of the offensive line, the Sooner return most of their playmakers, including the double edged sword that is their backfield of DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown. The tandem ran for a combined 2200 yards last season and look to trump that number going forward. Beware of Jermaine Greshem. The tight end is a future top ten NFL draft pick and is the best tight end in college football. He has the ability to take over a football game and is a mismatch against any defender. He is athletic enough and too big for cornerbacks and too athletic for linebackers and safeties. Trent Williams is the lone returning linemen and a future high round NFL Draft pick.
The defense returns some of the nation's best players, including All-American defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. A former top recruit, McCoy burst on to the scene late last year and had a very impressive National Title game. McCoy will look to take his game to the next level and is a sure fire high end first round draft pick. He will be flanked by Auston English and Jeremy Beal on the outside and Ryan Reynolds and super fluid Travis Lewis at linebacker to form one of the nation's best front seven units that will look to improve upon the 20th ranked rushing defense. The unit had 42 total sacks, good for fourth in the nation. The defensive backs will look to improve upon the nation's 99th best unit, albeit in the pass happy Big 12.
What to Expect:
An evaluation of talent. This game will be a good barometer for the Hurricanes young talent. When these players look to their future in the game of football, it'll be here where they gauge themselves as they will face a who's who of future NFL draft picks. Expect a closer game than 2007's 51-13 drumming, and maybe a game that is closer than the experts think.