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Sooners: Previewing Saturday's Matchup With Tulsa

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Oklahoma Memorial Stadium will host the in-state clash between OU and Tulsa on Saturday, with kickoff set at 11 a.m. Here's a preview of what to expect out of the matchup. 

TU’s offense thrives while the defense dives

Remember when Baylor came into Norman last season, and beat up on the Sooners with a merciless score of 48-14? Well the man behind that throttling was Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, and now the head coach at Tulsa, Montgomery has brought that explosive brand of offense with him to Golden Hurricane country.

Tulsa is 2-0 with wins against Florida Atlantic and New Mexico, and the Hurricane aren’t just winning games, they’re winning in style. Montgomery and company are averaging a whopping 609 yards per game, which currently ranks sixth in the country—50 spots ahead of the Sooners.

While the Tulsa offense is busy lighting up the scoreboard, the defense has had some trouble slowing down its opponent from doing the same. The Hurricane rank 111th in the country in total defense while surrendering an average of 32.5 points per game.

What’s alarming for the Hurricane, is they’re having trouble slowing down less than stellar opponents. Against Florida Atlantic, TU allowed the Owls to score 41 points before squeaking by with an overtime win. The next week against New Mexico, the two teams traded the lead four times in the first half before Tulsa finally took control in a 19-point victory.

There’s a good chance the electric Tulsa offense will show up to play in Norman on Saturday, but it will be interesting to see if the defense can play well enough to keep things interesting. 

Dazzling duo of receivers

Tulsa’s offensive game plan has been tremendous so far, but none of that success would be possible if it didn’t have the playmakers to get the job done.

Hurricane receiver Keevan Lucas is one of the better playmakers in the nation, and the senior currently ranks sixth in the country with 258 receiving yards to go with his three touchdown receptions. His running mate, sophomore Keyarris Garrett, ranks fifth in the nation with 265 yards receiving.

These two impact players are the leading candidates to cause matchup problems for OU, but it would be a shame to not mention running backs Zack Langer and D’Angelo Brewer.

Langer is a senior out of Jenks, who’s carried the ball 57 times for 228 yards and four scores. Tulsa uses Brewer in the backfield as well, and the sophomore seems to make plays whenever he touches the ball. Brewer has toted the rock 36 times for 225 yards with an average of 6.3 yards per carry.

OU O-line woes

There’s no debate that the sore thumb of this OU team is the offensive line, and it appears that the anchor of that front group won’t be able to play. Senior center and captain, Ty Darlington suffered a right knee sprain against Tennessee and is out for an indefinite amount of time.

Fellow Sooner captain, Nila Kasitati has also caught a case of the injury bug, and the starting right guard may miss this week’s game due to an ankle injury.

Jonathan Alvarez could move over from guard to replace Darlington, and if that happens, junior college transfer Jammal Danley should fill in at guard. Redshirt freshman Alex Dalton could be a potential fill-in at either center or at guard to replace Kasitati if he sits out.

Alexander vs. Alexander

One interesting storyline of this game will be when two siblings run out on the field sporting different uniforms. Oklahoma linebacker Dominique Alexander and Tulsa defensive end Derrick Alexander will face each other for the third straight season with Dominique clasping a 3-0 record in those meetings.

Dominique is OU’s leading tackler with 19 stops on the season while Derrick has five tackles for Tulsa to go with a sack.

Lincoln Riley familiar with Tulsa

It’s no secret that OU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley held the same role at East Carolina before making the switch, and it just so happens that Riley got the chance to coach against Tulsa each of the last two seasons.

In 2013, Riley’s ECU squad won 58-24 behind 505 yards of total offense. The next year in 2014, the result was very similar, as the Pirates won 49-32 and totaled 510 yards on offense.

Even though Tulsa now has a completely different staff, it’s safe to say that Riley has plenty of experience against the TU defensive personnel. 

Is this a potential trap game for OU?

OU is coming off its biggest victory in years after its comeback win over Tennessee, therefore some people have circled this game as one the Sooners could potentially overlook before they begin conference play.

Yes, Tulsa’s offense could cause some problems early in the game, but the Sooners would need to have a complete breakdown in order for them to lose to an in-state opponent at home.   

Score prediction: OU 51 Tulsa 17 

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