Quarterback Baker Mayfield, head coach Lincoln Riley and the rest of the team have been the talk of the college football world after handily dispatching Ohio State at the Horseshoe last weekend. How much thought have they even given to Tulane?
The Green Wave nearly upset Navy last week and are packing a funky option offense for their trip to Norman. Tulane hasn’t beaten a team ranked in the top 25 since 1983, but if the Sooners plan on coasting, they could be in for a slog.
Tulane at Oklahoma
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 16 at 6 p.m. ET
TV Channel: Pay-per-view
Spread: Oklahoma -34
Three Things to Watch
1. Tulane’s QB situation
Green Wave starting QB Jonathan Banks left the Navy game in the first half with a chest injury, putting his availability for OU in doubt.
Head coach Willie Fritz turned to backup Johnathan Brantley in Banks’ absence versus Navy. The sophomore signal-caller responded with 73 yards and a touchdown on nine rushing attempts while completing five of eight passes for 58 yards.
Staying afloat against the Midshipmen is a different task for a second-string QB than asking him to do it against the Sooners, though.
2. Who’s playing free safety for OU?
Free safety Will Johnson left early in the Sooners’ tilt with the Buckeyes, and the sketchy details of his injury strongly hint that he won’t play on Saturday. That probably means true freshman Robert Barnes will fill in again for the veteran defensive back.
Whether or not Johnson’s injury sidelines him for a long stretch this year, getting Barnes some snaps now can only help for the future.
3. Sooners’ rotation at running back
Following an early fumble by sophomore running back Abdul Adams versus Ohio State, Riley and OU running backs coach Jay Boulware rode freshman Trey Sermon and sophomore Rodney Anderson for most of the game. Sermon, in particular, shined with 62 yards on the ground and a touchdown catch.
The rookie will likely get the first snaps against Tulane, but Boulware will likely want to help build up any lost confidence by Adams by giving him some carries in this game. Adams actually ran the ball well against the Buckeyes defense prior to the fumble.
Given Lincoln Riley’s two-game record as a head coach, we don’t have much to go on regarding how his teams usually perform coming off a big win. In that scenario, the Oklahomas of the world don’t always bring their A game when they see a Tulane up next.
Willie Fritz’s team appears to have taken a step forward this season, and the Tulane offense could give OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops a little heartburn. But not enough to pull off what would be a stunning upset.
The Green Wave might fool the Sooners into giving up a few big plays in the first half. They won’t keep OU from being in position to empty the bench after halftime.
Prediction: Oklahoma 41, Tulane 14
— 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.