Setting the stage: OU-Tulsa

It's Week 3 for the Sooners. Some questions have been answered and a lot more still remain heading into OU's game against Tulsa.

SoonersIllustrated.com is going to set the stage every week breaking down Oklahoma's game during the 2013 season.

Tulsa (1-1) at OU (2-0)

When: 11 a.m. CST Saturday

OU's biggest question going into the game

Will OU be forced to throw the ball? Not can because that's a different thing. But will Tulsa load up the box and make the Sooners air it out?

If you listen to Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship, he understands one of the biggest reasons OU has had success on the ground.

"I think they have three really good running backs," Blankenship said. "I think the key to everything is 33 (Trey Millard). He can do a little bit of everything. Great blocker, he can catch the ball. Every formation – when they're really serious about running the football – they're going to kind work their way to him."

A lot of people are speculating the Sooners won't need to have success through the air in order to win this game. That has happened in the past, most notably against Tulsa in 2005 when OU didn't throw a pass in the second half.

So there's no telling how much we'll really learn about junior quarterback Blake Bell in his first start if Tulsa can't find some way to slow down the rushing attack.

Tulsa's biggest question going into the game

Is being the top wide receiver a jinx for Golden Hurricane? Seriously, for the third straight season, Tulsa is having to navigate its way without a vital component of its offense.

The Golden Hurricane beat Colorado State with a field goal as time expired last week but lost No. 1 receiver target Keyarris Garrett for the season. Garrett broke his leg on what turned out to be the game-winning drive.

"We're learning to deal with it by experience, I guess," Blankenship said. "Every good team that I've been a part of has to have a next-man-up attitude at every position. Unfortunately, in those cases, the No. 1 receiver has been a guy who went down early in the season."

There were passing lanes for West Virginia last week against the Sooners secondary, especially in the second half. The Mountaineers simply couldn't capitalize. With Garrett out, nobody stands out for Tulsa in terms of being a difference maker outside of Trey Watts.

Conventional wisdom would dictate OU stops Watts, and it will be a long day for Tulsa.

Quotable

"Because our quarterbacks are really young. Some of them had not played any college game or started, because Landry (Jones) was here last year. I am blaming us because we should be able to get more open, create more space for them to throw us the ball. I had a couple drops the first game; in the past game we kind of went off cue on some reads. That was our fault, also. As we watched the film I saw it so I blame it on us." OU wide receiver Jalen Saunders talking about wide receivers taking responsibility for OU's lack of passing success

Breakout player

Would it be too easy to say Blake Bell? Do believe Bell will have a quality game but going to go in another direction this week. As the defense continues to get more comfortable, starting to see just how good defensive end Charles Tapper can be. He has played well in the first two games but this one will be an even better showcase for the sophomore as he records his first multi-sack game of his career. It won't be his last.

Prediction

OU 34, Tulsa 10. OU only has three points in the first quarter this season so it will be interesting to see if the Sooners start with a little more sense of urgency. Bell doesn't set the world on fire with his passing game but throws one and runs for two more in looking comfortable and poised in his first start. The running game will lead the way again, and the defense will look good until letting off the gas in the fourth quarter.


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