Strength of Schedule: Tulsa

Oklahoma's in-state opponent should provide little resistance for Sooners in non-conference

For the second year in a row, Sooners Illustrated breaks down Oklahoma’s most important games for the upcoming season. The rating system is based on the importance of a win, the strength of the opponent and a general idea of how key the game will be in terms of scheduling and performance.

It starts with the easiest game and ends up with the toughest.

1. Tulsa

It’s not the Sooners’ opener, but it still comes in as the least important game for Oklahoma, which made easy work of the Golden Hurricane last season. This time around the game will be played in Norman, where Oklahoma hasn’t lost to Tulsa since 1996 and just once in the 21-game history of the rivalry.

2014 record: 2-10

Last year vs. OU: 52-7, Oklahoma.

Why this game is dangerous: At some point, Tulsa will finally win a game in Norman. This one falls on the schedule just three games into the season, and there’s still a chance for the Sooners’ offense to be finding its form. Just one week after a road matchup with Tennessee, there’s also a chance for a hangover in victory or defeat.

Player(s) to watch: Rising-junior quarterback Dane Evans will be entering his second full season as a starter for the Golden Hurricane, and he’s returning every single pass catcher from last year’s team. Tulsa did not graduate a single reception off last year’s team. It’ll be a great chance for nickelback Steven Parker to show off just how much he has improved. At times, Parker looked lost in coverage last year, and this season, he’ll be heavily relied upon. He’s got a chance to prove his potential early in the 2015 season.

Prediction: There won’t be many games this season that don’t come without question marks about the Sooners’ chances. This is one of those games that Oklahoma is the heavy favorite and should remain that way. Oklahoma, 62-13, wins behind a dominant offensive performance – and maybe a defensive touchdown.

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