It’s time for conference play! On Saturday, the Big 12 will welcome Cincinnati to its first ever game as a member of the conference, and the Sooners will serve as the welcoming committee. Oklahoma currently sits as a 14-point favorite, and ESPN’s Matchup Predictor gives OU an 86.7% chance of winning. Here are a few key storylines to keep an eye on as the Sooners open up their final slate of Big 12 conference games.
– Saturday’s game will feature one of the best road performers in the country over the last nine seasons in Oklahoma and a program with one of the best home records since the start of the 2019 campaign in Cincinnati. Going back to the 2014 season, the Sooners are 31-7 (.816) in true road contests, good for the fifth-best winning percentage in the country over the span. The Bearcats, meanwhile, are 26-2 at home since the beginning of the 2019 season. The .929 home winning percentage is tied for fifth best over the past four-plus years. Cincinnati’s only two home losses over the period have come in its last three games at Nippert Stadium — 27-24 to Tulane in last year’s regular season finale and 31-24 in overtime to Miami (Ohio) on Saturday.
– Dillon Gabriel ranks in the top 10 nationally in several categories. He leads the country in pass completion percentage and ranks second in passing efficiency rating and points responsible for per game (24.0), fourth in passing touchdowns (11) and sixth in yards per pass attempt (11.3). Gabriel also ranks 11th in passing offense (301.7 ypg) and 17th in total offense (313.3 ypg) despite only playing in nine of OU’s 12 quarters this season.
– Through three games, as the Sooners are tied for second nationally by allowing just 0.3 sacks per contest (the lone opponent sack was by SMU). Cincinnati has racked up 10 sacks (3.3 per outing) to rank 16th nationally.
– The Sooners have allowed just five scores (three touchdowns and two field goals for 28 total points) on 37 possessions through three contests. They didn’t permit a touchdown until the fourth quarter by SMU in the second game. The last time OU went at least seven quarters without allowing a touchdown to open a season was in 1999. OU’s 28 points allowed are its second fewest over the first three games of the season since the start of the 2010 campaign (gave up 27 in 2013).
– OU ranks fourth nationally with its +2.0 turnover margin per game. The Sooners have registered eight takeaways to rank sixth in the country and have committed two turnovers (both on Saturday at Tulsa; one on the opening kickoff return and a second-quarter interception).