Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, September 11, 2015 at 11:00 AM
One of the most annoying things about college football over the past decade or so…is how Oklahoma always gets a ton of Preseason hype before they go out and prove that the “pundits” had overrated them again. You’d think people would learn!
This happened in dramatic fashion last season. Athlon had them #4 in the country in their summer publication previewing the 2014 campaign. NUMBER FOUR! Oklahoma would finish the season 8-5, capped off by a 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. They were supposed to be better than Baylor in the Big 12 race. Baylor beat them 48-14 in Norman. What a joke.
To his credit, Bob Stoops did some housecleaning in the offseason. He recognized his job was on the line because the sarcastically named “Big Game Bob” was getting embarrassed too often in high profile situations. New offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley will run a fast-paced spread attack. Quarterback Baker Mayfield, who played this offense in his time at Texas Tech, will run the show out of the gate.
The returns were pretty good in the season opener last week vs. Akron. Oklahoma started slowly, but then pulled away to a 41-3 blowout win that saw stellar stats for the offense. The problem is:
*Akron isn’t very good
*Akron faded badly in the Oklahoma heat
*Akron isn’t the kind of team that’s going to force mistakes from fast-paced athletes
Basically…if you want an easy tune-up for your new offense, invite Akron to town! Things could be much tougher this week when Oklahoma visits Tennessee in a game that will be nationally televised late in the afternoon by ESPN. Because of my Texas roots…I follow the Big 12 very closely. I know that the national media is hyping games like Oregon/Michigan State and LSU/Mississippi State more this weekend. For my money, OU/Tennessee is the most interesting game on the board. We’ll learn a lot about whether or not Oklahoma will be a force in the Big 12 race this season in a way that could scare TCU and Baylor…and a lot about whether Tennessee has a shot to unseat Missouri in the SEC East.
Let’s take those three bullet points I just mentioned for the Akron game, and apply them to Tennessee…
*Tennessee is much better than Akron. The current AP poll has Oklahoma at #19, Tennessee at #23. Las Vegas has the game very close to pick-em. This is a true litmus test vs. a quality opponent. Even if Tennessee turns out to be overrated at #23…they’re good enough to compete with ranked teams in Rocky Top. If Oklahoma wins this game by double digits, THEN I’ll be impressed.
*Tennessee isn’t going to fade if heat and humidity are a factor. Both teams have been practicing in the heat for weeks. Both teams have depth. Akron was outdone in the second half because they couldn’t hack the conditions. Tennessee will be fine in that regard. In fact, it might be Oklahoma’s defense that fades in an up-tempo game. They’re not facing an inept rookie quarterback this week.
*Tennessee in front of a rabid crowd will at least have a chance to force mistakes if Oklahoma’s players aren’t quite up to speed with their new offensive schematic. I have to admit that I’m a bit concerned for Tennessee in this area. They let Bowling Green pass for 29-50-0-433 last week! That’s no interceptions in 50 passes. Play passive like that…and Oklahoma will put up a big number. Let’s assume Tennessee will be more aggressive…and that the crowd will be a bigger factor in a showcase TV spot. Oklahoma is likely to have at least two turnovers.
Last week I mentioned that I was thinking about the Under in Texas/Notre Dame. This week, it may be an Over that makes more sense in my featured game because Oklahoma wants to play shootouts and Tennessee may go along with that flow. You’ll have to sign up for service to find out if I played the team side here…and to get the final word for my full weekend of college and pro action.
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Next week I’m going to focus on an NFL game here in my weekly web article. The Dallas Cowboys will face the Philadelphia Eagles in a huge divisional and conference matchup. There’s already a lot of debate here in Vegas about which of those two is really the better team. You know the most famous gambler from Texas will have something to say about the 2015 Cowboys!
Let’s go make some money over this huge football weekend. You’ll always GET THE BEST OF IT WITH TONY SALINAS!