Andrew Gilman

21 predictions: UTEP-OU

21 predictions: UTEP-OU

(1). You haven’t missed this column at all. I understand. But here we are again heading into a new season, with a new coach and the same, old expectations.

And lame predictions.

Welcome to 2017. Here are 20 more predictions for Saturday’s opener for Oklahoma at home against UTEP. Let’s get weird.

Well, last Monday new coach Lincoln Riley handled his first-game press conference like an old pro. He answered all sorts of questions, talked about the depth chart. Talked about how ready he is for his first season. He didn’t answer a single question about UTEP. None. Oh, he talked up the Miners for a short period of time, but that didn’t exactly create a need for anyone to ask anything about UTEP.

(2) You won’t care, either. After all, this should be a great game right up until about kickoff. After that, (3) when Baker Mayfield throws a touchdown on OU’s first drive, (4) all your attention will be turned north, turned to Ohio State and turned to what could ultimately be an opportunity for the biggest road victory for all of the 2017 season. By the end of the first quarter, (5) after OU has scored at least two touchdowns, (6) the only thing you’ll be paying attention to is whether Austin Kendall, who is redshirting this season, is going to cue up any Ohio State trash talk.

Oh, there will be plenty to see Saturday, it just won’t have anything to do with UTEP (7) considering the Miners won’t have more than a touchdown by halftime. For OU, you’ll see:

(8) Rodney Anderson get the start at running back.

(9) Mark Andrews will catch the first pass of the season.

(10) Mayfield will have three or more touchdown passes in the first half.

(11) The Sooner defense get a first-quarter turnover.

(12) OU lead by at least 24 points at halftime.

By then, everyone’s attention will be turned toward Ohio State. That’s when you’ll hear the person next to you (13) complain that Riley is leaving the starters in for too long and (14) doesn’t he know by now that you can’t go get guys hurt before a big game.

And Riley won’t allow it to happen. (15) Mayfield won’t see a snap after the midway point of the third quarter and (16) Kyler Murray will even give way in the fourth quarter to OU’s third-string quarterback.

No reason to believe Riley isn’t prepping for UTEP, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be doing it with an eye on the Buckeyes, too. For that reason, (17) Mayfield will get his stats (more than 300 yards pass) and not give up any ground in the early season Heisman Trophy race.

(18) Your apprehensions about a defense, an offense and a coaching staff that’s for the most part, unproven will be put aside, at least until next week when OU takes on Ohio State.

(19) OU doesn’t cover the 45-point spread, but (20) does cover a 23-point halftime line.

Sooners win 55-17.

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