Strength of Schedule: Texas Tech

Sooners begin string of easy non-conference games with a home matchup vs. Red Raiders

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.

5. Texas Tech

Outside of TCU, a late-October matchup with the Red Raiders is the toughest home game that Oklahoma will have all season. It’s not a good thing that all but one home game falls at the bottom of this list (hint for No. 6). The Red Raiders have actually had the most success against Oklahoma of all the lower-tier conference teams, having split much of the last decade with the Sooners – including a win in Norman in 2001.

2014 record: 4-8

Last year vs. OU: 42-30, Oklahoma

Why this game is dangerous: The Red Raiders can score, and against a secondary that still hasn’t proven much of anything, that’s not a pleasant thought. Texas Tech has scored at least 20 in all but one game against Oklahoma since 2005. Without five touchdowns in the final 27 minutes of the game last year, Oklahoma could have left Lubbock with a loss. It’s a matter of stopping the offense because there’s no one player to key on – well, maybe running back Deandre Washington.

Players to watch: Should Baker Mayfield be the starting quarterback, this will be his first game against his former team. He didn’t get to play in last year’s trip down to Texas Tech, although he received plenty of razzing from the crowd. With a possibility of coming into this game at 3-3, Mayfield will need to have a big performance. But don’t be surprised to see a big game out of cornerback Zack Sanchez or receiver Dede Westbrook, either.

Prediction: While this starts a string of easy games for Oklahoma, it’s the end of an easy run for Texas Tech, which will be coming off games against Iowa State and Kansas. There’s no telling exactly what kind of a role that will play in the game, but it’s a fact. As for the game itself, three of the past four games haven’t been decided until the fourth quarter and all were in doubt at halftime. It’s been three-straight wins for the Sooners but none were completely comfortable. This one won’t be easy, either. Wait until the fourth quarter before Oklahoma pulls away by two touchdowns. Ultimately, it gets to a 17-point margin – Oklahoma wins 41-24.


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