Houston at No. 4 Oklahoma 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
Radio: KRXO-107.9, KTBZ-1430
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°
First down ¦ Top storyline
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.