Setting the Stage: OU vs. Tennessee

Sooners, Volunteers set for Round 2 in Knoxville on Saturday

SoonersIllustrated.com is going to set the stage every week, breaking down Oklahoma’s upcoming game during the 2014 season.

No. 19 Oklahoma (1-0) at No. 23 Tennessee (1-0)

When:

5 p.m.

Biggest question

Will the offensive line be better? For one, it has to be.

For proof that it will be, look at the final three quarters of the season opener against Akron. Jitters gone, adjustments made and the game plan revised to include more quick passes, Oklahoma’s offensive line looked much better. There’s a trust level with Bill Bedenbaugh on the recruiting trail, and there should be one on the field as well.

Five of Oklahoma’s first six drives all ended in fewer than six plays and with a punt. The last of which was the first drive of the second quarter. After that, Oklahoma had just one non-scoring drive last fewer than six plays.

Oklahoma’s offensive line won’t suddenly become the 2014 version. Will it be better? It’ll look better, that’s for sure.

An educated guess

Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield throws for more than 400 yards against Tennessee. This “prediction” comes two-fold.

First comes from the simple statistical comparison: Mayfield threw for 388 passing yards against Akron – most coming in just the second and third quarters. Tennessee allowed more than 400 yards against Akron.

Don’t expect either trend to stop.

Secondly: The Sooners fall behind early and have to throw the ball. Tennessee’s running attack pushes the Volunteers ahead in the first quarter by two scores, and Oklahoma, whose run defense is caught surprised, has to rally back.

Player to watch

Jeffery Mead - OU looked Mead's way a couple of times to try to make it something special happen down field. Didn't quite work out. OU goes to the well again and this time it works. Mead, using his size and ability to stretch the field against a weakened Vol secondary, comes up with a couple of major grabs.

Prediction

Hite - Tennessee’s early lead is erased by halftime as the run game doesn’t wear Oklahoma’s rotating front down. Instead, it has the opposite effect as the Tennessee line begins to falter in the second half. Oklahoma takes the lead for good by the end of the third quarter. Sooners go home happy as 45-27 winners.

Przybylo - Get ready for a showdown. Believe this one is going to live up to the billing of being a tight, contested battle. OU's run game gets going a bit more, allowing Baker Mayfield to come up big in the second half. Ultimately, OU defense withstands a late charge by Vols in a 27-23 victory.


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