OK, you’re tired of waiting and guessing and suggesting and anticipating.
By now, you’ve read all the prognostications, memorized depth charts and pre-gamed for your pre-game.
Kickoff at 11 Saturday morning, but let’s get weird now.
Every week in this spot I’ll give you 25 predictions you can use as currency around the office water cooler. Be smarter than your co-workers and take these predictions as your own. Use them as academic currency. Be brilliant.
And if you’re an Oklahoma fan, you’re hoping the Sooners will be, too, because under coach Bob Stoops his teams – for the most part – have been. OU is 15-2 in openers under Stoops and his teams are 30-15 when both the Sooners and their opponent are ranked in the top 15.
Houston comes in No. 13 and its quarterback Greg Ward comes in as the best player in all of the football land, or so it would seem. By kickoff 1. you will have already heard how Ward is a Heisman candidate at least 10 times. Yeah, we know. He’s good. We get it. However, by the end of the first quarter 2. Ward will have at least one turnover and 3. you will have seen highlights of Houston’s BCS win over Florida State too many times. It’s fine. Just pacify yourself with the knowledge 4. Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield will throw a touchdown pass on Oklahoma’s first possession.
Oh, sure, Ward will have some success . 5. He’ll rush for more than 75 yards, but 6. he’ll also be sacked more than four times. 7. and be responsible for at least two turnovers. You’ve been reminded Houston went 13-1 last season and also reminded the Cougars return 23 starters from the team that beat Florida State 38-24 in the Peach Bowl. They scored 40.4 points per game last year, but 8. won’t get there on Saturday. 9. Houston will score two touchdowns in the first half, 10. but will be behind by more than a touchdown at the break.
That doesn’t mean everything will go perfectly. After all, OU has its issues, too. 11. You’ll hear Sterling Shepard’s name at least three times before the end of the first quarter, which would be fine if he was actually still playing for the Sooners, but in this context it will all be about the fact OU doesn’t have a go-to receiver. 12. Count on at least three really bad drops by Sooner receivers in the first half. And you’ll be worried. And that’s a legit worry. 13. But also count on catches from six players in the first half. 14. Including a touchdown by Mark Andrews.
Ultimately, this game will be about what Ward does, what the Sooner defense does against the Houston quarterback and
Whether Ward tries to do too much himself.
Not that you didn’t know this already, 15. so the announcers will certainly remind you early and often there is no Eric Striker and no Charles Tapper and no Zack Sanchez. You know OU has plenty of questions and people to replace on defense so don’t be surprised when 16. Ward escapes for a run of 20 or more yards during the Cougars’ first possession. He’s going to get loose so that means you 17. won’t be able to start looking ahead to the Ohio State until a bit later.
Ward will have his moments, but so will Oklahoma running backs Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine. 18. Both will score touchdowns. 19. Both will rush for more than 99 yards. 20. Both will ease your mind. The OU offense is not going to be an issue this season. 21. And it won’t be an issue Saturday in Houston, either. 22. OU will have more than 440 yards of offense and 23. this game will be out of reach by the third quarter.
Vegas says the line is OU favored by 12. 24. Give the points. 25. OU covers easily, 48-24, and you can start worrying about Ohio State by Saturday afternoon.