Oklahoma is taking its Heisman Trophy candidate and speed defense out west for a Big 12/Pac 12 showdown with UCLA. The Sooners are returning to the Rose Bowl for the first time since losing the College Football Playoff semifinal game against Georgia on January 1, 2018.
Here’s 10 things you need to know about Saturday’s matchup with the Bruins
1. Chasing History
Oklahoma’s 20-game true road game winning streak is the longest in the nation (next longest is 10 by UCF). The Sooners haven’t lost a true road contest in almost five years years (Oct. 4, 2014). If OU beats UCLA it would tie as the second-longest such streak nationally in the post-World War II era. The Sooners won 25 consecutive true road games from 1953-58 under Bud Wilkinson, and Alabama won 21 in a row from 1970-75. OU’s current 20-game streak is tied with Miami, Fla. (1984-88) and Ohio State (2012-16).
2. Not Something To Brag About
UCLA will be looking for its first win over a ranked opponent since 2015 (17-9 win at No. 18 Utah) and its first over a top-10 ranked opponent since a 2010 win (34-12) at No. 7 Texas. The Bruins’ last non-conference win was a 2017 victory over Hawai’i in the Rose Bowl. It has dropped its last seven contests against non-conference opponents.
3. Yes, We’ve Been Acquainted
Saturday’s game will mark the sixth meeting between Oklahoma and UCLA, with the Sooners leading the series 4-1 (1-1 in Pasadena).
4. Steady Improvement
UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson completed .686 of his passes vs. SDSU (24-35 att) for 199 yards … It was the sixth time in his career he has exceeded the .600 threshold in a game. His 13-for-15 effort (.866) at Cal last season was the third-best mark by a Bruin since 1980 (with at least 15 attempts).
5. Standing Alone
Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts is the only player in the country with more than 500 passing yards (591) and more than 200 rushing yards (223). He leads the nation with his 252.3 passing efficiency rating (next highest is 219.1 by LSU’s Joe Burrow) and paces all quarterbacks in rushing yards.
6. Playing The Big 12
UCLA is 17-15 all-time vs. teams in the current Big 12 Conference — Baylor (0-1), Iowa State (1-1), Kansas (5-2), Kansas State (2-2), Oklahoma (1-4), Oklahoma State (1-1), Texas (4-3), TCU (3-1), Texas Tech (0-0), West Virginia (0-0).
7. Leading The Way
Oklahoma ranks first nationally with its 14.0 yards per pass attempt (next highest average is 11.5) and ranks second with its 8.7 yards per rush (South Carolina averages 9.0).
8. That’s A Lot Of Players!
After using 48 players in the opener at Cincinnati, 52 UCLA players saw action vs. San Diego State last week — 2 grad students, 9 seniors, 12 juniors, 15 soph., 10 redshirt freshmen, 4 true freshmen.
9. The Defensive Remodel Seems To Be Working
Under the direction of first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch, OU has forced three turnovers, two turnovers on downs, and 11 punts through two games, while also registering 16 tackles for loss and five sacks. Houston (5 for 13) and South Dakota (1 for 11) combined to convert just 6 of 24 (25%) third down attempts.
10. The Guys Tasked With Defending The Sooners
Linebacker Khrys Barnes leads UCLA with 16 tackles, which include 3.0 tackles for loss and a sack, and has a pass breakup and a QB hurry. Defensive lineman Osa Odighizuwa has collected 11 stops, including a team-high 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Defensive back Jay Shaw has the team’s lone interception, which he returned 66 yards against Cincinnati.
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