Game 1: Vs. Chattanooga (OU Record: 0-0)
Lets be honest, Chattanooga is a pretty good cupcake game, but it is a game that will hopefully set the season out on the right foot, so it will be very important that the Sooners come out of the gate swinging. The ‘Mocs' will be converting from a 3-4 to a 4-3 defense, so there will be a definite adjustment to be made with personal and schemes, and running in to one of the most veteran offensive lines in college football. OU will be able to have their way.
Outcome: Win, OU 59 - Chattanooga 7
Game 2: Vs. Cincinnati (OU Record: 1-0)
This is a huge game for Cincinnati and you can bet your bottom dollar that Brian Kelly, who is one of the brightest young coaches in the game, will have his squad prepared from a schematic standpoint. One aspect that many casual observers overlooked is their speed on defense. They are quick off the edge and put pressure on most of the offenses they matched up with in 2007. In the end OU should be too strong up front on both sides of the ball for a Bearcat squad to come in and pull the road upset. OU should pick up a lot of believers after this win.
Outcome: Win, OU 34 – Cincinnati 17
Game 3: At Washington (OU Record: 2-0)
To SI this may be the biggest game of the season, because it could establish the tempo for the rest of the year. OU had some struggles on the road in 2007, so they will need to establish a different identity in 2008. It will also give OU their first shot to play against the type of quarterback in Jake Locker that is a dual-threat type of player who could exploit a possible weakness at linebacker. To have a successful season OU will have to be able to slow a plethora of major arms in Big 12 play as well, so this game will give us a good look at how the season could play out. Washington will be well tested coming off of games against solid teams in Oregon and BYU. This one could come down to a number of invariables (Cough…. Pac 10 officiating), but the Sooners should be able to hold on to make it 3-0.
Outcome: Win, OU 24 – Washington 20
Game 4: Vs. TCU (OU Record: 3-0)
Oklahoma will round out their non-conference schedule on September 27th against TCU, and if this story follows its traditional script we will see a Horned Frogs squad that will be looking to upset the Sooners, but I just do not see them coming close to having enough talent to match-up. Especially up-front in the trenches. They do feature another feisty quarterback in Andy Dalton, but it would take a Herculean effort for him to move the ball effectively against the pressure that the defense should apply.
Outcome: Win, OU 38 – TCU 13
Game 5: At Baylor (OU Record: 4-0)
OU will open up its conference schedule with a road game against a Baylor squad that will most likely still be making some adjustments under Art Briles, but it would be more than a disappointment if they were to get beaten by the Bears. It may not be the typical take them out to the woodshed beating, because the talent level in Waco is actually on the rise, but it will be yet another confidence building road win.
Outcome: Win, OU 47 – Baylor 21
Game 6: Vs. Texas (OU Record: 5-0)
We have predicted some big offensive numbers in the first five games and the Red River Rivalry game usually has its fair share of fireworks, and this game entering the season is being debated to be a toss-up, but OU will just to be physical at the point of contact and to smooth on offense to get knocked off at this point in the year. If people (nationally) did not take notice after the first five wins, they will when OU pulls out in front early with a big defensive play and rolls right through this game.
Outcome: Win, OU 31 – Texas 17
That will make OU 6-0 and in a good spot to make a run at a Big 12 Title and a possible National Title. The second part of the schedule will present some tougher road games, but they are all winnable. In Part II we will try to pin down how the team will finish down the stretch.