OU Spring Game April 12

Quarterback Jalen Hurts, a transfer from Alabama, will make his first start for the Sooners Sunday night against Houston in Norman. 

IAN MAULE/

Tulsa World file

Houston at No. 4 Oklahoma 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium

TV: ABC

Radio: KRXO-107.9, KTBZ-1430

Online: TuneIn.com

Records (last season):

Houston 8-5; Oklahoma 10-2

Last meeting: Houston beat Oklahoma 33-23 on Sept. 3, 2016 in Houston

All-time series: Oklahoma leads 2-1

James Aydelotte’s weather forecast: Partly cloudy and dry. Kickoff temp in Norman: 87°.

End of game temp: 79°

FOUR DOWNS

First down ¦ Top storyline

Speed D

Oklahoma has possessed a championship offense during the past two seasons. Alex Grinch was hired during the offseason to help OU build a championship defense. All eyes will be on the new defensive coordinator’s unit. Can the Sooners force Houston into turnovers? Will there be three-and-outs? Will tackling be on point? The spring game was a dress rehearsal. Now it’s time for the real thing.

Second down ¦ Key matchup

Houston quarterback D’Eriq King versus the Oklahoma defense

King will be one of the toughest quarterbacks the Sooners will see this season. While many will focus on King’s running ability, it’s his arm that could give Oklahoma some fits. OU will need to maintain discipline and try to contain King as much as possible. Any early turnovers would create confidence for Oklahoma.

Third down ¦ Player to watch

QB Jalen Hurts

The biggest question surrounding Hurts during fall camp has been his passing ability. While it’s possible he may not have the pinpoint accuracy of Baker Mayfield or Kyler Murray (and, to be fair, it’s a high bar), Lincoln Riley will put him in position to make plays against Houston. Hurts’ debut will be important in setting the tone for the rest of the season.

Fourth down ¦ Who wins and why

With run game and defense, OU prevails

From Bill Haisten: Last season, Kyler Murray averaged 27 pass attempts per game. In 2017, Baker Mayfield averaged 29 attempts. If all goes well in the Houston game, Lincoln Riley won’t need more than 18 or 20 pass attempts from Jalen Hurts. The best-case scenario: That the Kennedy Brooks-Trey Sermon run game flourishes all night and that OU doesn’t need anything heroic from Hurts in his Sooner debut. As Alex Grinch’s defense flaunts better-than-expected improvements in tackling and ferocity, OU prevails 49-31.

Eric Bailey

918-581-8391

eric.bailey@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @ericbaileyTW

Sports Writer

Eric covers the University of Oklahoma football and men’s basketball teams. A Haskell Indian Nations University graduate, he has been a member of the Tulsa World sports staff for 12 years. Phone: 918-581-8391