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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
Final
ROC 8
DUR 2
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR
 
Final
TEX 3
CLE 12
Final
COL 6
CIN 4
Final
MIA 2
PIT 5
Final
CWS 5
TOR 3
Final
KAN 2
NYY 4
Final
BOS 4
MIN 6
Final
PHI 0
NYM 7
Final
SEA 3
TAM 0
Final
SFG 3
MIL 1
Final
DET 3
OAK 2
9th
HOU 4
BAL 5
 
8:05pm Tonight
WAS
CHC
8:15pm Tonight
ARI
STL
10:05pm Tonight
SDP
ANA
10:10pm Tonight
ATL
LOS
1:05pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
4:35pm Thursday
CWS
BAL
 
8:05pm Thursday
BOS
TEX
 
10:05pm Thursday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Thursday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Thursday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Thursday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Thursday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Friday
KAN
CHC
 
7:05pm Friday
COL
PHI
 
7:05pm Friday
TAM
BAL
 
7:10pm Friday
MIA
NYM
 
7:10pm Friday
WAS
CIN
 
8:05pm Friday
BOS
TEX
 
8:10pm Friday
ARI
MIL
 
8:10pm Friday
CWS
HOU
 
8:10pm Friday
TOR
MIN
 
8:15pm Friday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Friday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Friday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Friday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Friday
PIT
SDP
 
10:15pm Friday
ATL
SFG
 
2:10pm Saturday
TOR
MIN
 
3:05pm Saturday
COL
PHI
 
4:05pm Saturday
TAM
BAL
 
4:10pm Saturday
ARI
MIL
 
4:10pm Saturday
CWS
HOU
 
4:10pm Saturday
MIA
NYM
 
4:10pm Saturday
WAS
CIN
 
7:15pm Saturday
BOS
TEX
 
7:15pm Saturday
KAN
CHC
 
7:15pm Saturday
LOS
STL
 
10:05pm Saturday
ATL
SFG
 
10:05pm Saturday
DET
ANA
 
10:05pm Saturday
NYY
OAK
 
10:10pm Saturday
CLE
SEA
 
10:10pm Saturday
PIT
SDP
 
1:10pm Sunday
MIA
NYM
 
1:10pm Sunday
WAS
CIN
 
1:35pm Sunday
COL
PHI
 
1:35pm Sunday
TAM
BAL
 
2:10pm Sunday
ARI
MIL
 
2:10pm Sunday
CWS
HOU
 
2:10pm Sunday
TOR
MIN
 
2:15pm Sunday
LOS
STL
 
2:20pm Sunday
KAN
CHC
 
3:05pm Sunday
BOS
TEX
 
4:05pm Sunday
ATL
SFG
 
4:05pm Sunday
NYY
OAK
 
4:10pm Sunday
CLE
SEA
 
8:05pm Sunday
DET
ANA
 
9:10pm Sunday
PIT
SDP
 
9:00pm Tonight
HOU
GSW
9:00pm Friday
GSW
HOU
 
9:00pm Sunday
HOU
GSW
 
8:00pm Tonight
ANA
CHI
8:00pm Friday
TAM
NYR
 
8:00pm Saturday
CHI
ANA
 
12:00pm Friday
AUBURN
CHARLESTON
 
1:00pm Friday
CALIFORNIA
CCAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
COLUMBIA
ECAROLINA
 
1:00pm Friday
ORALROBRTS
ARKANSAS
 
1:00pm Friday
OREGON
IOWA
 
1:00pm Friday
SFLORIDA
FAU
 
1:00pm Friday
WRIGHTST
NOTREDAME
 
2:00pm Friday
MICHIGAN
BRADLEY
 
2:30pm Friday
STONYBROOK
NCSTATE
 
2:30pm Friday
TEXAS
OREGONST
 
3:00pm Friday
INDIANA
RADFORD
 
3:30pm Friday
ULLAFAYETE
RICE
 
4:00pm Friday
LEHIGH
LSU
 
6:00pm Friday
CANISIUS
SWMISSOURI
 
6:00pm Friday
CLEMSON
ARIZONAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MERCER
FLORIDAST
 
6:00pm Friday
MOREHEADST
LOUISVILLE
 
6:00pm Friday
VIRGINIA
USC
 
7:00pm Friday
FIU
MIAFLA
 
7:00pm Friday
FLAAM
FLORIDA
 
7:00pm Friday
MARYLAND
MISS
 
7:00pm Friday
SACREDHART
TCU
 
7:00pm Friday
STJOHNS
OKLAHOMAST
 
7:00pm Friday
TSOUTHERN
TEXASAM
 
7:00pm Friday
VCU
DALLASBAPT
 
8:00pm Friday
HSTNBAPT
HOUSTON
 
8:00pm Friday
LIPSCOMB
VANDERBILT
 
8:00pm Friday
OHIO
ILLINOIS
 
8:00pm Friday
TULANE
NWILMINGTN
 
10:00pm Friday
PEPPERDINE
FULLERTON
 
10:00pm Friday
SANDIEGOST
CSANTABAR
 
11:00pm Friday
CSBAKER
UCLA
 
Final
ROC 8
DUR 2
 
7:05pm Friday
SYR
DUR
 
6:35pm Saturday
SYR
DUR
 
5:05pm Sunday
SYR
DUR