For the second year in a row, Sooners Illustrated breaks down Oklahoma’s toughest 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.
The season opener and the first real look at Oklahoma’s new offense. Of the two non-conference games that don’t begin with a flight to Knoxville, the Sooners’ matchup against the Zips is by far more important. It’ll be the first match-ups between the two teams.
2014 record: 5-7
Last year vs. OU: N/A
Why this game is dangerous: A perennial bottom-dweller in the MAC. The Zips had a third-place finish last season in a division that could have been considered as the worst in FBS. It’s a team that should pose no problem to Oklahoma. All those statements accurately describe Akron. But there lies the danger. It’s also the season opener and the first game under a new offense, which still has a quarterback situation to solve.
Players to watch: This game won’t hinge on a single player too much, but there is a player that must be watched. Right now, it’s Baker Mayfield, but by the end of preseason camp, things could change. Whoever the staring quarterback is will have all the eyes on him. It’ll be proving time for Mayfield, Trevor Knight or Cody Thomas.
Prediction: It’s a season opener with a new offense against a team that hasn’t won more than five games in any season since 2005 – but does have back-to-back five win seasons under Terry Bowden. This game can really only go one of two ways – great or disastrous. Either way, it ends up with an Oklahoma win. Let’s say 35-7 with a late touchdown against and a much better second-half showing for the Sooners than the first half.