Strength of Schedule: Tennessee

Oklahoma has its first major challenge against the young Volunteers on a national stage.

This game will be a proving time for Oklahoma. Almost guaranteed to be 2-0 heading into their nationally televised game against Tennessee, the Sooners will have the chance they want to declare themselves as a national title contender.

8. Tennessee

2013 record: 5-7

Last year vs. OU: N/A

Why this game is dangerous: Any game against an SEC opponent is dangerous, simply because it’s against an SEC opponent. Whether it’s Alabama or Kentucky, an SEC foe is an SEC foe. The SEC is the SEC. This will be the biggest game of the weekend, and both team will be preparing for it – at least in some way – from the time fall camp kicks off nearly a month before Week 1. In the middle of one of its worst four-year stretches in school history, Tennessee might seem down. But that would be fool-hardy to believe. Now in his second year, Butch Jones is known for making huge strides in Year 2.

However, the Volunteers are still very young. They will be replacing six starters on the offense and the defense, although the entire secondary returns. The young players sprinkled throughout the Tennessee depth chart are supremely talented, as Jones has put together multiple top classes. A victory against a national-title contender on a national stage would be a massive jumping off point for Jones and the Volunteers. That alone makes Tennessee very dangerous.

Players to watch: Oklahoma brings in a loaded, experienced offensive line. There are two juniors and three seniors on the line, who each have double digit games played and multiple games started. They’ll have a chance to become a dominant unit in this game. Tennessee is replacing six of its seven starters up front, and while they’ll have plenty of young players with talent, there’s a lacking amount of experience. The Volunteers might be relying on true freshman, who will be giving up plenty of pounds on the inside. This game could start a great final season for tackle Daryl Williams.

Prediction: This will be a big statement game for Oklahoma. Tennessee is down, but a down team in the SEC is still strong. Any victory against the conference itself speaks loudly, in the battle for recruits and for a spot in the four-team playoff. A win here will validate the belief that the Sooners are a national-championship caliber team. On national television, Oklahoma stands up tall – 31-14.

Sooners Illustrated Top Stories