(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. The Spread: Tulsa won’t play in any bowl game this season that means more to their fans than Saturday’s OU game in T-Town. Lots of former Oklahoma high school talent will be battling for pride for the home team that likely won’t even have the home field advantage (The game isn’t a sellout as of Thursday . Nonetheless, beware of the home ‘dog at +24.5.
2. Focus: Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship, who was a Spiro, Ok, high school QB when I was officiating back in the day, will have no issue reaching into his bag of tricks when it comes to gimmick plays — fake field goals/punts — to attempt to level an unbalanced playing field. Non-contact penalties are an indication of a team not concentrating. Those types of penalties were few and far between for the Sooners last week and let’s hope that trend continues.
3. Tight Ends Returned from Witness Protection: Anyone else anxious to see TE Black Bell catch some passes? I’m hopeful that OU has a package ready and that they use it in the red zone, featuring Bell. Adding a threat at tight end, especially in the play action passing game, which is the perfect compliment to the Sooners run offense, can loom large at this season moves forward.
4. Big BBQ Eaters Dominate: Impressed with both the offensive and defensive lines for the Sooners against the Duck Dynasty guys last Saturday and I’m anxious to see their improvement Saturday. Competition for playing time is keen so don’t expect any noticeable drop off. OU’s newest coaches Bill Bedenbaugh (offensive line) and Jerry Montgomery (defensive line), along with special teams guru Jay Boulware, are the equivalent of five star recruits. Great hires by the HBC.
5. OU in the Air: Would like to see Sooners get the ball down field a little more. Anxious to see what receivers step up behind Sterling Shepherd. There are many viable candidates within Coach Jay Novell’s unit. Don’t sing it … bring it.
6. Cody Thomas: The talented, redshirt freshman QB needs game reps and let’s hope that he’s able to see some action on Saturday. Backup quarterback and the inside linebacker group have depth issues that have to be addressed. Thomas is now healthy, which he wasn’t last week.
7. Tulsa Time: Love that this game is in Tulsa and hope that this series can continue in the future. It’s good for the state, is a nice boost to the economy, is travel friendly, unlike the Lewis and Clark-like expedition to WVU coming up soon, and gives many Oklahoma kids a bucket list game that they will never forget. Plus, for OU, and Tulsa for that matter, it’s a nice recruiting card to play.
Tulsa has to defend the multiple-headed, potent running attack of the Sooners, which may lead to some big plays for OU via Trevor Knight’s arm. Speaking of quarterback, it wouldn’t bother me if the QB lead option only made a cameo Saturday for Stoops Troops. Could OU have two, 100-yard rushers in this one?
Got a feeling that Tulsa’s QB will be introduced to a variety of OU defenders in Chapman Stadium, which I can confirm is not named for Dwayne “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman. Tulsa QB Dane Evans will likely try and get rid of the ball quickly, which puts the onus on the Sooner secondary to tackle well.
A solid running game, a stifling, intense defense and immaculate special teams (Michael Hunnicutt is a legit star) sans any major injures equates to a viable chance at a final four run for this team, whichoklah still has to improve each week and take nothing for granted especially when the Sooners are the target of every team that they play.
Prediction: Oklahoma 42 Tulsa 19
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