Over half of the players traveling for the Volunteers will be playing in their first-ever road game. Too much to ask of a freshmen- and sophomore-laden roster?
See what Sooners Illustrated publisher Bob Przybylo and InsideTennessee managing editor Danny Parker said about the non-conference matchup with five questions posed for one another:
Przybylo on Oklahoma
1. How bad does Bob Stoops want to send a message to the country by punishing an SEC team coming to Norman?
Przybylo: He wants to send a huge message. Even though he has downplayed it all season about the SEC, there is no doubt OU is looking to prove another point against the Vols.
The Alabama performance made OU “cool” again. The Sooners had dropped off considerably. They were considered boring. Tradition equaled boring. Baylor was the new kid on the block getting all the recruits. Texas A&M was leaving the conference and landing all the top Texas high school kids.
It felt like maybe the game was passing Stoops by. He seemed rejuvenated again before the Bama game, and he hasn’t let up since.
2. How do you slow down the Trevor Knight-led Sooners offense?
Przybylo: It’s a good question and absolutely not trying to sound like a homer. It used to be just make Knight beat you from the pocket. But so far this season, that hasn’t been an issue as Knight has been solid in all phases of the game.
OU has been using a three-headed approach at running back where Alex Ross, Keith Ford and Samaje Perine all bring something different to the table. None of them get more than 15 carries per game meaning all three of them are fresh throughout.
The best thing to do is to take away wide receiver Sterling Shepard. He is clearly OU’s best target, most reliable target. If the Vols can make Shepard a non-factor, the game could get interesting.
3. Tennessee has lost 41 games in its last six seasons. Beyond being an SEC team, does the Oklahoma roster and fan base have much respect for the Volunteers?
Przybylo: Absolutely. Most fans are not happy about the 21-point favorite spread right now because they do believe Tennessee is a much better team than that.
Fans, coaches and players came away impressed with what the Vols did against Utah State on a national stage.
Stoops said it often Monday about the respect he has for Butch Jones and how much you can tell the program has improved in every way possible in Year No. 2.
On the flip side, this is a huge recruiting opportunity for OU to make an impression. A whopping 14 recruits have confirmed official visits for the game so far to go along with major unofficial visits as well.
4. The Big Orange has question marks aplenty along its offensive front. Just how great are the Sooners that they're assigned to block?
Przybylo: OU is talented at defensive end and outside linebacker. It wouldn’t be irrational to say OU’s three best players are at those positions on defense.
Defensive end Charles Tapper is somebody a lot of people believed should have been All-Big 12 in the preseason. Senior Chuka Ndulue has made huge strides this season, while Eric Striker and Geneo Grissom are so versatile and so athletic as outside linebackers.
Striker had his coming out party against the Crimson Tide with three sacks and a forced fumble, and defenses still haven’t found the answer. Grissom is arguably the most athletic player on the team.
5. The Orange & White opened up as a three-touchdown underdog. Is it even remotely possible for Tennessee to beat this Oklahoma team?
Przybylo: If OU executes like it has been, no way. The Sooners have been on a roll with fast starts, putting the game away early. If Tennessee can cause some turnovers and actually give OU some adversity to deal with, it could get interesting.
The Sooners have not been tested at all. Both games were over by halftime, heck, even the end of the first quarter. Nobody is expecting that this weekend.
Learn more about the matchup from the Tennessee perspective by clicking play on video interviews with Volunteers this week in Knoxville:
Jalen Reeves-Maybin video interview
Justin Worley video interview