The response came unsolicited just a few minutes after Urban Meyer led Ohio State to a convincing 45-3 victory against Tulsa. His team had just dismantled an Oklahoma-based program, and he quickly turned his attention to the long-time king of the state: The Oklahoma Sooners.
“The challenge of challenges comes next week against a very good team, and we’re going to jump on that one early and get ready to go,” Meyer said to reporters after his team’s victory against Tulsa on Saturday.
He wasn’t the only one looking ahead to this Saturday’s showdown.
“We made far too many mistakes and didn’t play well enough a week ago,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “This time we did, but we understand the level of competition is quite different.”
The players felt it, too.
“Obviously, they are a good program. Everybody knows that,” Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “I feel confident in what we’re doing right now, and I think we’re going to keep progressing. I think it will be a good matchup. We just need to have a good week of practice and treat it like another game.”
But it’s hardly like any other game. It’s one of the biggest non-conference games in Oklahoma history and especially under Stoops, and it’s for good reason.
Ohio State (2-0) won the national championship two years ago, nearly made the College Football Playoff last season and has lost just one game the past two seasons. The Buckeyes lost a 12 players to the NFL Draft last year, all in the top four rounds, and five players in the first round.
Through two games this season, they have a combined margin of victory of 125-13.
“Ohio State has tremendous players, and they execute very well,” Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “They’re well coached. We’re going to have to match it with a great performance defensively, better than we played against Houston.”
Led by returning quarterback J.T. Barrett and just five other returning starters, Ohio State is the favorite to win the Big Ten Conference and make the College Football Playoff yet again. The Buckeyes have replaced all of their skills players on offense and return just three players on defense.
The Sooners were without a handful of players against Louisiana-Monroe, but they’ll need all hands on deck against Ohio State.
“We’re going to need everybody next week,” Mike Stoops said. “It’s going to be a very physical game. And the more players we have that have some experience, it’s going to be valuable next week.”