For the third 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.
2015 record: 2-11, 1-7 Sun Belt
Last year vs. OU: N/A
Why this game is dangerous: There’s a lull in the schedule after Oklahoma returns home from Houston and one week before the Ohio State Buckeyes descend upon Norman. Louisiana-Monroe comes with a new coach and one of the worst programs in the nation. This game will be the Warhawks’ Super Bowl. A win would change the program and will likely be considered the greatest win in the school’s history. The Warhawks literally have nothing to lose in Norman. There’s danger in that.
Opponent to watch: The Warhawks are going to keep the ball on the ground for much of the season, but UL-Monroe quarterback Garrett Smith will be a small sample of the kind of mobile quarterback that the Sooners could see the rest of the way. He’ll be just a sophomore after starting 10 games last season prior to a season-ending injury. Last year, Smith threw two interceptions against Alabama, so he won’t torch the Sooners, who pose a similar quality in the secondary. The Warhawks had no rushing attack last season, barely eclipsing 100 yards per game and averaging more than just four other teams in the nation. That attack should be improved and could give Smith a little bit more wiggle room.
Prediction: Oklahoma has one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the entire nation. This game is not one of those reasons. The Sooners runs through the Warhawks. Baker Mayfield barely eclipses 250 passing yards, but the Sooners rush for more than 400 yards. It’s also the first time that Oklahoma fans get to see Austin Kendall in live game action. He should take his first snap midway through the third quarter. By that time, Oklahoma will be four touchdowns ahead and in cruise control: Maybe, 56-13 by the end of the game.