The Oklahoma Sooners rarely tangle with the Army West Point Black Knights and other service academies. That makes Saturday’s matchup an intriguing anomaly in an otherwise cookie-cutter annual schedule.
After sustaining a loss to Duke in their season opener, the Black Knights are rolling in their last two games, wins over Liberty and Hawaii. Army is getting heady play from quarterback Kelvin Hopkins to ignite its option-oriented offense.
OU is coming off a slugfest at Iowa State last week, raising legitimate questions about whether they’ll be in the right frame of mind to handle the triple option.
Army at Oklahoma
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. ET
Spread: Oklahoma -31.5
Three Things to Watch
1. OU’s tackling
The Sooners’ tackling deficiencies came to the fore versus Iowa State, allowing the Cyclones to pile up yards after contact. The defensive backs were the most egregious offenders, and they will be called upon this week to clean up against Army’s triple option.
2. Army’s aerial attack
The Black Knights threw a total of 65 passes in 13 games during the 2017 season. They have already attempted 39 this year through three contests, bumping their per-game average up from five to 13. Those aren’t Texas Tech numbers, but OU still has to prepare for a team that is more willing to put the ball in the air than would normally be expected.
3. OU’s depth at running back
The Sooners played their first game without Rodney Anderson last week, and the rushing performance was mixed. Trey Sermon’s workmanlike 74 rushing yards on 13 carries showed he’s still the No. 1 option in the backfield, but the Sooners could stand to get more work for T.J. Pledger and Kennedy Brooks to challenge Sermon and Marcelias Sutton, OU’s change-up back, for more touches.
Despite the physical mismatch in this game, it should surprise no one if Army has early success moving the ball against OU’s up-and-down D. The size of the Black Knights on defense will be a different story, though, as they will have to contend with OU’s maulers on the offensive line.
Army can run with the Sooners for a quarter or so, but look for OU to pull away before halftime and not look back.
Prediction: Oklahoma 42, Army 17
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.