Oklahoma and Tulsa are going to hook up on the gridiron Saturday for the first time since 2015. It’s the first road test of the 2023 season for the 19th ranked Sooners and it comes at a good time with next week’s trip to Cincinnati, to open conference play, looming. Saturday’s game will mark the 29th meeting between Oklahoma and Tulsa. The Sooners own a 20-7-1 series lead and are 7-3 against the Golden Hurricane in Tulsa. Here are a few key storylines to spark some discussions as Saturday approaches.
Tulsa Quarterback Health
Sophomore Braylon Braxton is listed as the starter on this week’s depth chart. He was injured in the opener causing him to give way to redshirt freshman Cardell Williams, who ultimately was injured last week at Washington. This puts junior Roman Fuller in the spotlight. He’s #3 on the quarterback depth chart, but has completed 70% of his passes and has thrown for two touchdowns. He’s the only quarterback for Tulsa who hasn’t thrown an interception, and he appears to be the only quarterback that the Golden Hurricane have that is 100% healthy.
Can We Expect An Oklahoma Blowout?
If there’s one thing that the 2022 season taught us, it was not to take things for granted. That said, this is about as lopsided of a series as you’ll find. The Sooners own a 20-7-1 all-time record against Tulsa and are 14-1 against the Golden Hurricane since 1943. On top of that, Oklahoma has won the last nine games in the series by an average score of 48-13.
Tulsa head coach Kevin Wilson and Oklahoma’s Brent Venables are buddies, but the Sooners slid in the polls after beating SMU 28-11 last weekend. They sure could use some style points on the road this weekend!
Third Downs Are Keying Success For Oklahoma In 2023
Oklahoma wasn’t good on either side of the ball when it came to third down in 2022. The Sooners ranked 49th nationally last season in third-down conversion percentage (.405) and 87th in third-down conversion percentage defense (.409). That’s not been the case through the first two game of the 2023 season, though. The Sooners have converted 18 of their 28 third downs, which gives them the nation’s third-best percentage (.643). On the defensive side of the ball, OU allowed Arkansas State and SMU to convert just six of their 27 combined third-down tries. The Sooner defense has a .222 opponent conversion figure which ranks them eighth in the country.
We Haven’t Seen This Since 1999
The Sooners have allowed just two scores (one touchdown) through two games. The TD came in the fourth quarter by SMU. The last time OU went at least seven quarters without allowing a touchdown to open a season was in 1999 when it beat Indiana State 49-0 and Baylor 41-10. Baylor’s TD was in the fourth quarter.
Protect The Football!
OU has yet to commit a turnover this season and has registered three takeaways on defense (one interception and two fumble recoveries).
Special Teams Are Back
The Sooners have come up with a big special teams play in each of the first two games. Both plays centered around a punt, with Gavin Freeman returning a kick for a score in the season opener, and then Peyton Bowen blocking a punt last week to set up Oklahoma’s first score against SMU.
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