(3) Oklahoma Sooners vs (15) Houston Cougars
Oklahoma– The last time we saw Bob Stoops and his Oklahoma Sooners, it was in Miami for the first game of the College Football Playoff and they would lose in embracing fashion to the eventual runner-up, Clemson Tigers and they were just simply outplayed in that game and that’s bound to happen when a guy of Deshaun Watson’s caliber is on the same field as you. Now begins a new season and coming into 2016, the Oklahoma Sooners are the favorites to win the Big-12 once again and make the College Football Playoff for the second straight season. Two of Oklahoma’s top players return on offense and that’s Samaje Perine, the running back whom I feel can have a big season in a sport where guys such as Leonard Fournette, Dalvin Cook, and Nick Chubb have received so much national attention and Baker Mayfield is also back under center as the starting quarterback and as I said during the off-season, he has what it takes to become a Heisman candidate. They kick the 2016 season off with a big game against Tom Herman’s up and coming to Houston Cougars.
Houston– In 2015, they were no slouch at all. They surprised a lot of people, myself included and in coach Tom Herman’s first season as their head coach, he led the Houston Cougars to an 11-1 record, the Western Division title in the AAC and a win in the Peach Bowl over then ninth-ranked Florida State. That’s a really impressive start to begin your tenure as head coach and now, Houston feels they can go up from here. Greg Ward Jr is back under center at quarterback along with running back Duke Catalon and wide receiver Ra’Shaad Samples. This year, they have games against Louisville and their opponent this Saturday against Oklahoma. Five starters will return on defense but the secondary is now the biggest question mark after losing some key guys, William Jackson III included. This will be a true test for Tom Herman and company with a contender first on their schedule. This game will tell us whether Houston can make a believer out of many experts, analysts and college football fans.
Oklahoma’s X-Factor: I have two of them. Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon will both have to be on their a game and really control the tempo of the game. With these two running the football, it will open up the passing game for Baker Mayfield to take those deep shots down the field.
Houston’s X-Factor: Greg Ward Jr. He’s the type of playmaker that can use what he has around him no matter what the Oklahoma defense may bring. He simply needs to play his own game and keep the Sooners defense guessing. I’d be studying the film from last season’s Orange Bowl to see exactly how Clemson’s Deshaun Watson attacked this defense.
Prediction: I see this being a shootout. Lots of points being scored and defenses hardly showing up. Houston has the linebackers to contain Mayfield, Mixon, and Perine, but the defensive line doesn’t have the talent to really battle Oklahoma’s offensive line. I like the Sooners in this one. Oklahoma 45 Houston 28