SoonersIllustrated.com is going to set the stage every week, breaking down Oklahoma’s upcoming game during the 2016 season.
No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners (0-0) vs. No. 15 Houston Cougars (0-0)
When: 11 a.m.
Biggest question - - Does Oklahoma’s defense stop Houston enough?
It’s not about stopping the Cougars entirely. It’s about doing just enough so that the Oklahoma offense can outshine Houston’s. The Cougars are without their top receiving target, so the attack could look a little more like Ohio State than Baylor.
Oklahoma might actually prefer the passing attack because of where the Sooners experience is.
The play of Oklahoma’s linebackers will be a major factor.
An educated guess: It’s good to have football season back. It’s just an exciting time of year, filled with optimism and excitement. If you like offense, this game should keep both of those feelings rolling well into Saturday afternoon. Now, if you like defense, it’s another story entirely.
This game has the makings to be record setting. Baker Mayfield should have a field day against the Houston secondary, and because of the Cougars’ offense, he should have a field day long enough to set a new career-high in passing yards. His 487-yard performance against Tulsa was his previous best. He could eclipse 500 against Houston.
Player to watch:
Przybylo - The secondary is going to be huge in this one for OU. It's the strength of the defense and someone like Jordan Thomas has so, so much to prove to all those questioning his decisions off the field. Add in the fact Thomas is coming home (from nearby Klein, Texas) and Thomas is certainly one to circle for the Sooners in the season opener.
Hite – There’s a real chance that this game is a blowout in Oklahoma’s favor. Things just set up favorably for the Sooners. But don’t count on it. Houston will victimize Oklahoma early with underneath routes and expose the Sooners’ linebackers in coverage, even enough to take a touchdown lead in the second quarter. But Oklahoma’s offense never stalls and leads going into the second half. A scoring drive to open the second half kicks things off and a turnover helps Oklahoma out to a 17-point lead. Houston chips away a bit but never pulls within double digits because of some adjustments by the coaching staff. Final: Oklahoma 48, Houston 35.
Przybylo - If OU's defense can create some turnovers, this could turn into a nice early statement-making game against a real quality foe in the Cougars. If not, be ready for a battle with Greg Ward and Baker Mayfield taking turns one after another. OU's inexperienced front seven on defense is going to have to answer some questions about itself, but the Sooners prevail and set the tone for what they're hoping is a memorable 2016 season. OU 38, Houston 30.