2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - Tulsa at Oklahoma
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Sept. 3 at Oklahoma 47 … Tulsa 14
CFN Analysis: It’s like OU fell out of bed and decided to put up a bazillion yards. Landry Jones got time, and he used it to pick apart the Tulsa secondary throwing for 375 yards and a touchdown. Ryan Broyles was his terrific self with 14 catches for 158 yards and a score, and 11 different receivers caught passes, but even with all the fun through the air it was Dominique Whaley’s game. The junior walk-on slipped and scooted his way to 131 yards and four scores averaging 7.3 yards per carry. The defense could’ve been a little tighter against the Tulsa passing game, but that’s nitpicking; this was an easy blowout with the Sooners looking every bit the No. 1 team in the nation.
Tulsa was going to struggle defensively against Oklahoma – everyone will – but the offense didn’t get going until it was too late and couldn’t make up for the inability of the defense to get off the field. G.J. Kinne was pressured for most of the game, and while he was able to scramble his way to 46 yards on the ground and came up with 271 yards through the air, it wasn’t nearly enough. The defense might have struggled, but Curnelius Arnick came up with a strong statistical game with 18 tackles. Up next is a road trip to Tulane before dealing with Oklahoma State and Boise State; basically, the Golden Hurricane will be 0-4 if it can’t come out of New Orleans with a win.
NORMAN, Okla. -- Tom Wort held back his tears and charged out onto Owen Field with the kind of reckless abandon his friend, Austin Box, always had when he played the game.
Wearing Box's No. 12 jersey, Wort thrust his arms into the air to elicit a cheer from the student section, ran to the end zone and dropped onto one knee to ask his departed teammate to help guide him.
Box would surely have been proud with his performance.
Wort earned the first game ball of his college career and the top-ranked Sooners backed the prolific combination of Landry Jones and All-America receiver Ryan Broyles with a sturdy brand of defense to beat Tulsa 47-14 on Saturday night.
"A special moment to see the crowd react like that, wearing my friend's jersey," said Wort, Box's replacement as Oklahoma's starting middle linebacker. "It was a special moment. I got to run out there, go to midfield and just see the crowd go nuts.
"I just looked up to the sky, thought of Austin. Went to the end zone thought of Austin, prayed that maybe he'd help me out with this one."
The Sooners (1-0) took the field for the first time since Box overdosed on painkillers in May, allowing Wort to become the first in a series of defenders that will wear his number as a tribute this season.
Jones, who feels new meaning with the No. 12 he wears on offense, went 35 for 47 for 375 yards and Broyles came up just shy of his own school receptions record with 14 for 158 yards. Dominique Whaley ran for 131 yards and four TDs as the Sooners extended the nation's longest home winning streak to 37.
Broyles' 4-yard touchdown catch put Oklahoma up 30-0 with 4:23 left before halftime, and Tulsa (0-1) never mounted a challenge in Bill Blankenship's first game as head coach.
"The bottom line is we can't control what they do," said quarterback G.J. Kinne, who had 271 yards on 18 of 33 passing. "We have to execute and we didn't do that very well tonight."
The Sooners opened at No. 1 for the first time since 2003, after holding the top spot for only two weeks over the past seven seasons. They were selected as the preseason favorite after a solid finish to last season that included the end of a five-game losing streak in BCS bowl games.
Jones got in a groove early by hooking up with Broyles -- the nation's leader last season with 131 receptions -- seven times for 120 yards in the first quarter, then everyone else got involved.
"I feel like after he got going, he started spreading the ball out," Broyles said. "When I'm playing a game, I don't think he's just looking at me."
One of the stars ended up being someone who, until recently, had been mostly off the radar as the Sooners sought a replacement for DeMarco Murray, who was drafted into the NFL after setting the school's record for career touchdowns.
Whaley, a walk-on who formerly played at Langston University of the NAIA, emerged in a tie with Brennan Clay for the starting spot at running back this week. He had three short touchdown runs in the first half and then ran through three potential tackles on a 32-yarder that pushed the Sooners lead to 44-7 late in the third quarter.
An inspired Sooners defense never gave Tulsa much of a chance, even with an offense that was the most productive in the nation two of the last four years and in the top five last season.
The Golden Hurricane were without top receiver Damaris Johnson, a second-team All-American last season and the NCAA's career record holder in all-purpose yardage and kickoff returns. He was charged this week with felony embezzlement and is suspended indefinitely with games against No. 9 Oklahoma State and No. 5 Boise State looming this month.
Tulsa went three-and-out three times in the first half and turned it over twice before finally getting on the board when Bryan Burnham caught a quick pass from Kinne against broken coverage and raced 56 yards to make it 30-7.
"It was difficult. He's one of our best players, but we don't make excuses around here," Kinne said. "We have some great guys behind him and I have to build a relationship with those guys. That will come over time and make the team better."
A couple other long pass plays after the game was out of hand provided most of the Golden Hurricane's offense. Willie Carter had receptions of 69 and 44 yards and ended up with 135 yards on five catches.
Trey Watts, the son of former Sooners quarterback J.C. Watts, scored on a 24-yard catch and run in the fourth quarter.
Wort helped cause one of the turnovers, knocking his own wind out in the process of getting the ball away from Ja'Terian Douglas.
"I'm a little disappointed about that, and I know (Box would) be giving me a hard time if he was here," Wort said.
The Sooners hadn't been No. 1 since a two-week stretch in October 2008 that ended when fifth-ranked Texas pulled off the upset in the Red River Rivalry. Oklahoma went on to lose to Florida in the national championship game, but never got back on top of the rankings.
"We always talk about '08 and how hard they worked. We show clips of it all the time," Broyles said. "So, we definitely feel like we have the team that can do those same things, and we just have to keep plugging away."
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Tulsa (0-0) at Oklahoma (0-0) Sept. 3, 8:00, FX
Here’s The Deal … Purely from a fireworks perspective, Saturday night’s game in Norman just might be the most entertaining one of the opening weekend. Oklahoma and Tulsa will both keep scorekeepers busy, returning a mess of skill position talent from teams that piled up the points in 2010. The Sooners will begin the new campaign as one of a small handful of programs expected to compete for a national championship. Loaded on offense and capable on D, OU must overcome a preseason tor injury to star LB Travis Lewis and prove it can handle enormous expectations. Bob Stoops’ kids are ranked No. 1 in both major polls, with a big ‘ole target adorning their chest. The Golden Hurricane is coming off a terrific season, the final one with Todd Graham in charge. Graham is now in Pittsburgh, and former assistant Bill Blankenship has taken his place. Tulsa rode a seven-game winning streak to the finish line a year ago, including critical road upsets of Notre Dame and Hawaii. It’ll begin the year as one of the favorites in a hotly-contested Conference USA West Division.
Why Tulsa Might Win: The Hurricane offense is potent enough to keep up with just about anyone in America, including Oklahoma. In Tulsa, versatility is king. Accurate passer G.J. Kinne also led the team with 561 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. And record-setting WR Damaris Johnson does a little bit of everything for the program, like take handoffs and dominate on special teams. Blankenship maintains continuity on a unit that’s going to have success against the Sooners D. Sure, OU always features talented players, but the tackles are average, the secondary is young and Lewis will leave a gaping hole until he returns from injury.
Why Oklahoma Might Win: While Tulsa is opportunistic on defense, it’s also vulnerable and inconsistent. The Hurricane yields too many big plays through the air, a particular concern when the Sooners are next on the schedule. Oklahoma will be high-powered once again, riding the arm of QB Landry Jones and a dynamite receiving corps featuring All-American Ryan Broyles and rising star Kenny Stills. Defensively, OU will enjoy an edge over a pedestrian Tulsa O-line. Even if Ronnell Lewis remains in academic limbo, the combination of Frank Alexander on the outside and Jamarkus McFarland and Stacy McGee inside is going to give Kinne fits.
What To Watch Out For: So now that DeMarco Murray is a Dallas Cowboy, who carries the ground game for the Sooners? Stoops will certainly have options, including blue-chip recruit Brandon Williams and sophomores Roy Finch and Brennan Clay. A committee is likely to be employed, though Clay has performed in August as if he plans to earn the most touches early on. Jones might be surprised by the amount of pressure he feels in the pocket on Saturday night. Tulsa is aggressive, and isn’t afraid to turn loose athletic linebackers Curnelius Arnick and Shawn Jackson, and safeties Marco Nelson and Dexter McCoil.
What Will Happen: The nation’s No. 1 team will come out a little flat and might even trail early in the second quarter before thoughts of a monumental upset are squelched. Oklahoma will go on a tear before halftime, creating breathing room behind the passing of Jones. He’ll not only spread the ball around through the air, but also feed his backs as well. The Hurricane will put up a valiant effort in Blankenship’s debut, but won’t have enough firepower to eclipse the Sooners.
CFN Prediction: Oklahoma 44 … Tulsa 24
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Oklahoma -21.5 O/U: 64-
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