Time: 11 AM CT

Location: NRG Stadium, Houston, TX

Network: ABC

Line: Oklahoma -12

Over/Under: 68 via OddShark

Oklahoma

  • Offense: With QB Baker Mayfield, reigning Big 12 POTY, at the helm and a pair of star RB’s rounding out the backfield, Oklahoma’s offense looks to be in good shape. The young Offensive Line has another year of experience under its belt, and has every reason to improve from a season ago. Transfer WR Geno Lewis should be a welcome addition to a receiving corps in need of a boost.
  • Defense: The secondary is full of talent, and would create problems for any QB. CB Jordan Thomas and SS Steven Parker are both potential All-Americans. The linebackers are a concern, however, as Oklahoma last 5 of its 6 top LB’s from last season. The Defensive Line looks to have effectively reloaded.
  • Special TeamsSophomore Austin Seibert is set to handle the place-kicking and punting duties. He performed well last year, especially for a true freshman.

Houston

  • Offense: QB Greg Ward Jr is the very definition of a dual-threat QB. Last year his passing numbers were very pretty, but his rushing numbers blew them out of the water. Ward racked up 1114 rushing yards last year, in addition to 2827 yards through the air. He leads a very powerful Houston rushing attack.
  • Defense: Houston’s DL and LB will likely improve from last season, after picking up some huge recruits. Houston’s secondary is another story. The Cougars graduated four Defensive backs this offseason, which spells disaster for this Houston defense. The Cougars will hope to reload their secondary effectively.
  • Special Teams: Houston is hurting badly at punter and kicker. Their return man, Brandon Wilson, is a very legitimate threat to bring one back. He has great speed and explosiveness.

Keys to Victory

  • Oklahoma: Mayfield and DeDe Westbrook should be able to team up and shred a very inexperienced secondary. If he can find success through the air, that will open up more opportunities to burn Houston on the ground. On defense, the Linebackers need to be on point in order to effectively shut down, or at least slow down, Ward.
  • Houston: Greg Ward will need to be very sharp to nab Houston a win. He is talented enough to out-duel the Sooners linebackers, but he needs to bring his A-game. The secondary will need to limit Mayfield’s opportunities for big gains downfield. Houston may also need a big special teams play or two in order to pull of the upset.

Prediction

After a very tight first half, Oklahoma manages to create some breathing room in the third quarter. Mayfield executes well down the stretch to seal the deal, in a very hard-fought game.

Oklahoma defeats Houston, 35-31.

Photo Credit: OU Football Twitter/@OU_Football

 

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