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(Jim Ross is a Hall of Fame wrestling announcer, a legendary voice. He also has a great love for Oklahoma football. JR will break down the Sooners‘ games in his own unique style.)
1. Home-Field Advantage: With the nation watching land a storied, college football program coming to town in the Tennessee Volunteers, Saturday night would be a great time to see the OU faithful be in full voice. If every fan isn’t ready to make a full emotional investment in this game, then why did they leave the house? Remember, if it’s too loud, then you’re likely too old.
2. Self-inflicted Wounds: Turnovers have been kept to a minimum thus far this season by the Sooner offense and, hopefully, Saturday night will be the same. Providing a young, but talented, Vols team “hope” is ill-advised and allowing then to hang around because turnovers have kept them in the game is “Pet Coon Goofy.” Hopefully, the SEC officiating crew will be a non-factor.
3. Bill Bedenbaugh’s Boys: The second-year Sooner offensive line coach’s unit has done a terrific job thus far in controlling the line of scrimmage and igniting the OU running game. UT has some of the best, pure defensive line athletes the Sooners will face plus the Vols know the Sooners are going to run the ball frequently and will be ready. The OU OL averages a slice of brisket or two from 330 pounds and their physical play will greatly influence this game. The Vols will bring the heat on Knight.
4. Trevor Knight: No. 9 needs to continue to relax and as he does some of those potential, long TD passes OU missed at Tulsa will be cause for celebration as 2014 progresses. Knight was “this close” to having a monster game last Saturday in the rain as it relates to hitting multiple long balls for six. It’s smart coaching that Knight is being a “facilitator” and not running the ball at will.
5. Linebackers: One should expect Tennessee to attempt to exploit the Sooners’ thin group of inside linebackers now that it’s been established that last year’s leading tackler, LB Frank Shannon, is through for the year. It will be interesting to see the physicality between the tackles.
6. OU Defense Needs Takeaways: Mike Stoops’ unit is due for some takeaways, which can be especially demoralizing to a young team like Tennessee. Let’s set the number at three and see if the Sooner ‘D’ can make it happen. The Sooner defense is special but can it be spectacular?
7. Pay Attention: Tennessee’s Butch Jones is an excellent football coach, who will no doubt be resourceful if the opportunity presents itself on the road being 20.5 point underdogs. Sooner special teams, in particular, must be alert while expecting the unexpected.
Two of college football’s most storied programs meet in the first of a home- and-home series that sees OU travel to Knoxville next fall. My flight from Atlanta on Thursday morning to OKC was loaded with Volunteer fans.
The atmosphere Saturday night should be extraordinary and it’s uneasy to even think that a team who’s primary color is orange could leave Owen Field with their hand raised in victory. Let’s hope that our visitors enjoy their trip … just not the final score.
Prediction: Oklahoma 31 Tennessee 14
You can follow Jim Ross on Twitter @JRsBBQ, listen to him on the Ross Report Podcast, and see him live atRINGSIDE: An Evening with Jim Ross. JR’s products are also available online at wweshop.com,americansoda.co.uk and beyondtheropes.co.uk
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