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Louisiana Tech (0-0) at (4) Oklahoma (0-0)



Saturday, August 30, 7 p.m. (ET)

The Sports Network

GAME NOTES: The fourth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners open what they hope is a season for the ages, as they entertain the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs at Gaylord Family- Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.

Skip Holtz was hired prior to last season to try and take Louisiana Tech to the next level, but his first campaign in Ruston was a disappointment as the Bulldogs went just 4-8, winning only three of their eight Conference USA clashes.

Weak play on both sides of the ball contributed to the team's woes, and while clearly an underdog in this contest, winning more than the one non-conference game it did last season (27-14 versus FCS foe Lamar) will be paramount to building up some momentum heading into league play.

Louisiana Tech, which opens the season with three road games in 13 days, is 0-20 against AP Top-25 foes dating back to 2000.

In the decade and a half that Bob Stoops has been in charge of the football program at the University of Oklahoma, the Sooners have been perennial powers not only in the Big 12 Conference, but on the national scene as well.

Last season was no different, as OU streaked out to a 5-0 start before suffering its first loss in a 36-20 setback to rival Texas. An embarrassing 41-12 loss to eventual Big 12 champ Baylor came a little later, but the Sooners bounced back to win their final three games of the regular season. As a result, Stoops' troops were rewarded with a Sugar Bowl showdown with Alabama, and the Sooners prevailed in that contest, 45-31.

This game marks the 200th of Stoops' tenure in Norman, and it also marks the first-ever meeting between Louisiana Tech and Oklahoma on the football field.

The Bulldogs really struggled on offense in 2013, scoring more than 20 points just four times, all of which resulted in victory. On the flip side, they were held to 16 points or fewer in each loss.

Iowa transfer Cody Sokol gets the nod at quarterback for this opener. Sokol, who actually began his college career at Scottsdale Community College where he broke several passing records held by for LA Tech standout Tim Rattay, will need plenty of help from his teammates if the Bulldogs are going to enjoy any kind of offensive success this season.

The problem is the receiving corps is pretty thin in terms of returning talent, with only Sterling Griffin having logged any meaningful stats last season (33 receptions, 357 yards, two TDs).

At least Louisiana Tech will have some experience coming out of the backfield, with Kenneth Dixon (917 yards, four TDs) back for another go as he tries to make himself into a more of a household name.

"Kenneth Dixon is going to be one of the best running backs in our league," said offensive coordinator Tony Petersen at the conclusion of the team's final summer scrimmage.

A total of seven starters return to a defense that put forth several disappointing efforts last season. Leading tackler Daniel Cobb is no longer around, but several productive guys are, including free safety Thomas McDonald, who was second on the squad last season with 70 tackles to go with five pass breakups and three interceptions.

Strong safety Xavier Woods (61 tackles) is hoping to elevate his game, as are corners Adarius Barnes, Le'Vander Liggins and Bryson Abraham.

Mitch Villemez and Tony Johnson highlight the linebacking corps, while veterans Devon McKinney and Houston Bates anchor the line. Considering the defense allowed nearly half of third downs to be converted successfully, and almost 200 rushing yards per game last season, the Bulldogs absolutely need to tighten the reins up front.

They will know right away how they stack up as Oklahoma's strong suit last season was running the football (223.9 ypg). The loss of several standout performers means Stoops will need to rely on some talented, if unproven backs this year. Sophomores Alex Ross and Keith Ford will likely hear their number called most, particularly in the wake of highly-touted recruit Joe Mixon's year-long suspension for his alleged involvement in a July incident that resulted in an assault charge being filed against him.

Sophomore Trevor Knight cemented his role as the team's starting quarterback after lighting up Alabama in the Sugar Bowl (348 yards, four touchdown passes). Knight doesn't have the most inexperienced crop of pass catchers at his disposal, but there is talent there, led by junior Sterling Shepard (51 receptions, 603 yards, seven TDs) and former quarterback, now tight end Blake Bell.

The Sooners were hopeful that the NCAA would rule in favor of allowing talented, but troubled Missouri transfer Dorial Green-Beckham to suit up this season, but that isn't going to happen as his appeal was denied.

The Sooners were an exceptional defensive team last season, yielding just 22.1 points and 350.2 yards per game, the former ranking them second in the Big 12, and the latter first.

The unit returns a slew of starters, although leading tackler Frank Shannon (92) has been suspended for the season for his apparent involvement in an off- the-field issue this past spring. Dominique Alexander (80) and Quentin Hayes (75) highlight the eligible returnees, with Alexander and Eric Striker (team- high 6.5 sacks last season) helping form one of the better linebacking corps in the conference. Junior defensive end Charles Tapper (5.5 sacks) is expected to be the anchor along what should be a very good defensive line as well.

The loss of former standouts Gabe Lynn and Aaron Colvin means the secondary could be an area of concern, although seniors Hayes and Julian Wilson will be there to provide veteran leadership. Despite the secondary being a bit suspect, Stoops has done a nice job recruiting and believes his guys will be up to the task.

"We really like some of our young freshmen that just got in. So there's talent there. Those guys, we're just going to see who is the most consistent and making the most plays."

Louisiana Tech may climb a rung or two up the C-USA ladder this season, but the Bulldogs are undermanned and outclassed in this matchup. Oklahoma is 14-1 in home openers under Stoops, and another tally in the win column is almost a forgone conclusion.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Oklahoma 41, Louisiana Tech 10

08/29 15:14:47 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
2nd
UNC 78
OSU 70
 
4:00pm Today
MVSU
NCCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCW
ECU
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NYR
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
UTA
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
NCSU
4th
NYK 82
PHO 85
 
7:00pm Tonight
NOP
POR
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
UTA
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
ATL
8:30pm Tonight
DAL
SAN
9:00pm Tonight
DEN
IND
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
MIL
Final
LALAF 16
NEV 3
 
2nd
UTEP 3
UTST 7
 
3:30pm Today
COLST
UTAH
5:45pm Tonight
AFA
WMICH
9:15pm Tonight
BGU
SALABAMA
Final
GEOR 81
CHAR 78
Final
WKENT 67
LOU 76
Final
MICH 51
SMU 62
 
Final
CIN 47
VCU 68
Final
BSU 77
ABCHRIST 33
 
Final
PROV 85
UMASS 65
 
Final
AMER 46
MNTER 45
 
2nd
UNC 78
OSU 70
 
1st OT
IUPUI 63
SALA 59
 
2nd
VILL 57
SYR 61
 
Final
VT 64
CITA 61
 
Final
DUQ 79
MLOWELL 63
 
2nd
FAIR 56
BEL 66
 
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YALE 35
GTDNS 33
 
Half
FD 36
DEL 38
 
2nd
PSU 38
DREX 31
 
Half
UNCG 29
ELON 35
 
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ILL 32
MIZZ 30
 
Half
CAMP 44
MONT 23
 
Half
LONG 51
PSUBEAVER 34
 
2nd
HOU 30
SCST 34
 
Half
FSU 34
SFLA 28
 
2nd
BING 27
BONA 34
 
Half
RUTG 39
RFLSH 34
 
2nd
MCNST 49
TOL 56
 
Half
JVU 38
TRUETT 23
 
2nd
GT 33
VANDY 37
 
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INDST 20
EILL 23
 
1st
BUT 25
IND 33
 
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STEPH 3
ARTCH 3
 
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DELST
 
3:00pm Today
Terriers
FATL
 
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TXARL 2
HPYN 0
 
1st
KU 0
LAF 2
 
3:00pm Today
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MARS
1st
MEM 0
ORU 0
 
1st
KNST 4
UMBC 3
 
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NW 0
WMICH 0
 
3:05pm Today
MIZST
EMICH
 
3:05pm Today
CHIST
STJOE
 
3:30pm Today
KENT
UCLA
4:00pm Today
COC
DAVID
4:00pm Today
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DET
4:00pm Today
UCR
HOUB
 
4:00pm Today
MURST
ILLST
 
4:00pm Today
NWST
LALAF
 
4:00pm Today
WAGN
MON
 
4:00pm Today
MVSU
NCCU
 
4:00pm Today
PITT
OU
4:00pm Today
TENNM
PBY
 
4:00pm Today
WYO
SOUTH
 
4:00pm Today
AFA
UCD
4:00pm Today
MSST
USCU
 
5:00pm Tonight
JMU
HIGH
 
5:00pm Tonight
TXST
HTILL
 
5:00pm Tonight
DRAK
ISU
5:00pm Tonight
SHU
UNH
 
5:00pm Tonight
SCU
NE
 
5:00pm Tonight
MSU
TXSOU
5:00pm Tonight
UF
WAKE
5:15pm Tonight
ND
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5:30pm Tonight
SHSU
PVU
 
6:00pm Tonight
AUB
XAV
7:00pm Tonight
AKR
BLUFFTON
 
7:00pm Tonight
DAY
BU
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCW
ECU
7:00pm Tonight
CLMB
HOF
 
7:00pm Tonight
GMAS
IONA
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TOWS
LAS
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MAN
MRGST
 
7:00pm Tonight
CCST
YALE
 
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MAR
STJOE
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KYST
TEXAM
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MAST
VALPO
 
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UMKC
INCWORD
 
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7:30pm Tonight
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IOWA
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UWMIL
 
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TCU
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8:30pm Tonight
ARK
SEMIZ
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JVST
 
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LEH
 
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NMST
NMU
 
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OKLA
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GRCN
STED
 
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WEBER
WLVRN
 
9:30pm Tonight
WVU
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SDST
BST
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GONZ
CPSL
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PAC
FRES
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PORT
MNTST
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSNO
TAMCC
 
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UTST
SDKST
 
11:00pm Tonight
BYU
STAN
11:30pm Tonight
UNLV
UTAH
4:00pm Today
LOS
ARI
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
CHI
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
COL
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
FLA
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
NYR
7:00pm Tonight
MON
OTT
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
PHI
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
TAM
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
WAS
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
NAS
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
CAL
10:30pm Tonight
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STL
4:30pm Today
WAS
PHI
8:25pm Tonight
SFX
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