3. Talent discrepancy
Let's face it. There are a number of things working in the Sooners' favor here. The Tulsa Golden Hurricane are a mid-major team that plays in the Conference USA, and OU has already lost to one mid-major team this year in Brigham Young, who plays in the Mountain West Conference. So, OU will certainly not overlook the in-state squad. The fact that they're a mid-major team in itself means they have less talented players, not to knock Tulsa and its program. The Golden Hurricane have a great program, but in terms of talent, they are at an obvious disadvantage coming into a matchup with a team that's won seven national championships, 42 conference titles and boasts five Heisman Trophy winners. So, that's one of the obvious advantages the Sooners have going into Saturday's game.
2. Stifling defense
It's the flip side of the No. 1 reason why Tulsa could keep it close until late in the fourth quarter. If the Tulsa offense gets the best of the OU defense, it could be a barn burner, and the Golden Hurricane could even win. But it figures to be the opposite of that. The Sooner defense, with big bruisers up front in guys like junior defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and senior Auston English, hard hitting linebackers such as seniors Ryan Reynolds and Keenan Clayton and sophomore Travis Lewis and veteran defensive backs in junior Brian Jackson and senior Dominique Franks, is clearly stifling. They will bring all types of blitzes for the Tulsa offensive line to deal with, and the Golden Hurricane will have more trouble with the Sooner defense as opposed to some of the other defenses they've faced in the last couple of years.
1. Home field
We'll give the crowd some love. OU head coach Bob Stoops called out the crowd last year before the Texas Tech game, and they responded big time. Now, it's not going to be that big of a game in terms of the national coverage and implications for both teams. But it's still a huge game that the Sooners desperately need to win if they still hope to climb up in the ranks for a possible chance at a national championship. The home crowd knows that, and they'll be ready to make some noise. And Tulsa doesn't play in very many loud environments, so it will be difficult for them to handle.
This part features the three reasons why the Tulsa Golden Hurricane could win the game.
3. No Gresham for the Sooners
When the diagnosis of senior tight end Jermaine Gresham came out, and the Sooners realized they would be without him for the rest of the season, it had huge implications. Gresham was quarterback Sam Bradford's go-to-guy, so to speak, after the graduation of last year's senior wide receivers, Manny Johnson and Juaquin Iglesias, and OU lost him. They lost a safety net in Gresham, a guy that could come up big for the Sooners in big situations. His absence is most felt in third down and red zone situations, where his big frame and talented skills to catch near the boundary provided OU with a huge advantage. Like OU's previous two opponents, the Golden Hurricane won't have to worry about guarding a tremendous athlete and leader in Gresham.
2. Bradford's out another week
This is no slight against redshirt freshman quarterback Landry Jones. He was brilliant last week in his first career start, going 18-for-32 with 286 yards and three touchdowns, with a meaningless interception mixed in, but he's still no Sam Bradford, and that's an obvious statement. The Sooners lost a lot when Bradford went down with an AC sprain in his right shoulder. Besides the fact of losing their Heisman quarterback, the Sooners lost a great leader and a guy that just makes the offense flow by easing things for the guys working around him. He's a tough-minded athlete that inspires the rest of the team to play at the highest level. With Bradford out of the lineup for yet another week, Tulsa won't have to worry about him sitting back in the pocket and picking apart their secondary.
1. Tulsa's high powered offense
Well, so far, it appears the Sooners' defense is much better than in the previous couple of years. But there's no evidence that the Tulsa offense is slipping any since the last couple of years, even with the loss of a talented quarterback in David Johnson a year ago. They feature a variety of formations and looks and spread the ball around really well, something that will be tough for OU to match up against. Certainly, the Golden Hurricane have enough fire power offensively to hang around.