Oklahoma vs. Tulsa Complete Game Preview
The Oklahoma Sooners are hoping this Saturday’s contest against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane will be a perfect opportunity to build some momentum heading into a key September showdown.
If there was any doubt that the Sooners were true national title contenders, they certainly put that talk to rest following their win in the season opener. Conversely, the team’s opponent—the Golden Hurricane—also proved they’re a tough out, rallying from a two-touchdown deficit to win in two overtimes.
Although a pivotal matchup against Tennessee on September 13 awaits Oklahoma, this is no time to look ahead.
Here’s everything you need to know about Saturday’s matchup.
Where: Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, Oklahoma
When: Saturday, September 6 at noon ET
Live Stream: Sooner Sports
Listen: Sooner Sports Radio Network
Betting Line: Oklahoma (-24), per Vegas Insider
Oklahoma's Keys to Victory
Pressure Dane Evans, Force Turnovers
The sophomore quarterback shined for the Golden Hurricane last weekend, throwing for 438 yards and four touchdowns.
However, Evans does have a tendency to struggle with his accuracy. The Sanger, Texas, product completed just 58.5 percent of his passes and tossed two interceptions during last Saturday’s contest. He was even worse in eight appearances last season, completing just 43.1 percent of his passes and throwing 10 interceptions to just four touchdowns.
The Sooners did a great job getting pressure on the Louisiana Tech quarterback last week—the team racked up 2.0 sacks in the process—and there’s no reason why they can’t have that same kind of success against Tulsa.
Exploit Weak Rush Defense
Last season, the Golden Hurricane didn’t fare well against the run, ranking No. 97 in the nation (199.8 YPG) while conceding 21 touchdowns on 4.6 yards per carry. On Saturday, they didn’t fare any better—Tulane ran for 254 yards on just 30 carries.
That’s only bound to get worse when going up against the talented rushing attack of Oklahoma.
Sophomore Keith Ford and Alex Ross both showed off against Louisiana Tech, finding the end zone twice a piece. But the surprise story was freshman running back Samaje Perine, who led the team in rushing with 77 yards on 13 carries.
Each running back possesses a different running style and should cause headaches for the Tulsa defense.
Tulsa's Keys to Victory
Keep Momentum in Passing Attack Going
After finishing an abysmal No. 101 in passing offense last season, the Golden Hurricane seem to be on the right track in 2014.
Sophomore Dane Evans put on a career showing, throwing for 438 yards and four touchdowns on 31-of-53 passing. That includes 13 passes that found sophomore wide receiver Keevan Lucas, who went for 233 yards and three touchdowns. Not surprisingly, Tulsa currently ranks No. 4 in the nation in the category.
If the team can keep up the high-octane attack, then it very well could find itself with a good chance to upset the Sooners in front of the home fans.
Force Trevor Knight to Win with His Arm
Following a spectacular showing in the Sugar Bowl, the entire nation awaited which Knight would be leading Oklahoma’s offense in 2014.
After last Saturday’s performance, the jury is still out.
Although the Sooners won rather comfortably over Louisiana Tech, that was more a credit to their stifling defense and talented running attack. While Knight remained calm in the pocket, his numbers weren’t all that impressive. He threw for 253 yards, one touchdown and an interception on 19-of-34 passing while completing just two of seven passes on third down.
Shutting down the run and forcing Knight to throw is imperative for the Golden Hurricane.
Oklahoma Players to Watch
RB Samaje Perine (Fr.)
Perine was awfully impressive in his debut for the Sooners.
A 4-star recruit coming out of Hendrickson High, Perine has the build (243 pounds) and power that make him one of the most bruising backs in the Big 12. Last Saturday, he put his vision and tackle breaking ability on display, racking up 77 yards on 13 carries, including a seven-yard scamper for a touchdown in the third quarter.
After a hard-fought offseason, Perine has worked his way up the depth chart and has the opportunity to secure himself as Oklahoma’s No. 2 running back with another impressive performance.
RB Alex Ross (So.)
In the past, off-the-field issues have hindered Ross’ chances to shine in Norman. But last Saturday, it was his on-the-field performance that has him in hot water.
Although the Jenks, Oklahoma, native found the end zone twice, he struggled to shake free all game long. He only went for 36 yards on 11 carries while failing to put together a run longer than eight yards.
Ross’ potential is there, as he showcased his ability on an 80-yard kick return and caught two passes for 30 yards. But if he wants to continue to see playing time, he needs to show up in the run game.
Tulsa Players to Watch
QB Dane Evans (So.)
Evans finally gave the Golden Hurricane the quarterback play they were looking for.
The sophomore lit up the stat sheet, hurling four touchdown passes while racking up 438 yards through the air. His play was critical in Tulsa’s rally from being down 21-7 late in the first half.
Given the Sooners' superior defensive line, Evans will need to do his best to try to torch the secondary and help open up the holes for the rushing attack.
WR Keevan Lucas (So.)
If you’re looking for a big threat in the passing attack, it’s Lucas.
The Abilene, Texas, native caught 13 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns. That includes an 84-yard strike with under a minute remaining in the first half that could easily be considered the game’s turning point. Lucas averaged 17.9 yards per catch and also ran the ball three times for 36 yards, showing off his open-field talent.
This is one guy who has the ability to dramatically alter the outcome of Saturday’s game.
What They're Saying
Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops had this to say about playing Tulsa:
I don’t know about benefiting the program as much as it’s great for the state for our people, for Tulsa hopefully and you have a game that’s close so the travel expenses for both teams wherever you’re playing. It just works. It’s close for fans in this area and again. I know we’re always rooting for them, I know I do whenever they’re playing somebody else and I want to see them do well. I think there’s a lot of respect that goes both ways with these two teams.
Quarterback Trevor Knight on Tulsa's defense:
They are a solid defense. They don’t do a whole lot conceptually but they do what they do and they do it well. I’m ready to go up there. I didn’t get to play against them last year. I was sick and banged up a little bit but I’m excited to get my first game against Tulsa and go up to their place and hopefully have a good game.
Linebacker Eric Striker on Tulsa's wide receivers:
Oh, they’re athletic. I watched some of the Tulane game and saw that they can go deep down the field. They had a whole lot of explosive plays in that game and their quarterback can throw it. I think it’s the same guy as last year. He can definitely throw it and they have the receivers that can take it downfield.
All quotes are courtesy of SoonerSports.com.
Home-field advantage could have a bigger effect on this game than one could think. That would especially be the case if the Golden Hurricane could cash in with a quick store and a defensive stop or two.
However, the Sooners have the overall talent edge. Not to mention, the team is stacked on both sides of the ball while Tulsa leaves a lot to be desired defensively.
Don't be surprised to see the Golden Hurricane hang around early. But come the third quarter, Oklahoma should turn on the jets and leave the opposition in the dust.
Prediction: Oklahoma 54, Tulsa 21
For complete coverage and everything Oklahoma football, you can reach Sebastian on Twitter and via email at Sebastian.LenaBR@gmail.com.
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