College Football

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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
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
STL
 
Final
ORL 100
MIL 115
Final
IND 103
NYK 82
Final
MEM 99
DEN 69
Final
LAL 123
CHI 118
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
MIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
HOU
 
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
POR
 
7:30pm Tonight
CLE
SAC
 
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIA
DAL
 
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
LAC
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
GSW
 
10:30pm Tonight
PHO
CHI
 
Final
PROV 83
DEP 72
Final
RUTG 51
MSU 71
Final
ARMY 71
BU 67
 
Final
RFLSH 75
BRY 68
 
Final
MERC 75
CHAT 72
 
Final
LIU 67
CCST 55
 
Final
TOWS 74
COC 70
 
Final
UMASS 66
DAY 64
Final
FUR 59
ETST 55
 
Final
ODU 71
FIU 56
Final
RMU 87
FD 65
 
Final
CHAR 86
FATL 61
Final
LIB 53
HIGH 72
 
Final
UNF 86
KNST 67
 
Final
FLGC 78
LIP 62
 
Final
OSU 80
MD 56
Final
Terriers 73
MNTER 67
 
Final
STET 85
NKENTUCKY 75
 
Final
WAGN 75
SHU 64
 
Final
GMAS 68
STLU 60
Final
JVU 65
USCU 78
 
Final
VMI 70
WCU 85
 
Final
LATU 69
WKENT 56
Final
UNCG 42
WOFF 58
 
Final
DET 93
YOUNG 87
 
Final
GSOUT 83
APP 46
 
Final
TENNM 81
EILL 51
 
Final
GHND 64
HC 54
 
Final
CIN 70
UCONN 58
Final
NDST 61
DEN 54
 
Final
SD 55
MAST 66
 
Final
UWMIL 71
ILLCH 65
 
Final
BEL 103
JVST 82
 
Final
SMISS 54
MARS 69
Final
TXSA 69
MTST 58
Final
PETE 49
RIDE 58
 
Final
SEMIZ 61
SIUE 75
 
Final
TENST 64
TENT 56
 
Final
NDAK 60
WEBER 67
 
Final
SALA 89
LALAF 85
 
Final
ARKST 65
ARKLR 75
 
Final
TROY 55
LAMON 58
 
Final
TXARL 74
UGST 88
 
Final
MURST 85
EKENT 78
 
Final
NCOL 79
IDST 76
 
Final
MIZZ 53
KENT 69
Final
GONZ 64
PORT 46
Final
UTEP 71
UAB 69
Final
GRCN 78
UMKC 57
 
Final
WLVRN 78
CHIST 62
 
Final
USC 94
COL 98
Final
UCI 67
CPSL 57
 
Final
CSNO 73
HAW 84
 
Final
PAC 43
PEPP 50
 
Final
SDU 69
SCU 64
 
Final
UCD 70
UCSB 64
 
Final
UCLA 69
UTAH 59
Final
PORST 54
MONT 73
 
Final
SACST 75
MNTST 59
 
Final
CSFU 85
LBSU 91
 
Final
GAELS 68
LMU 54
 
Final
WASU 67
CAL 76
Final
BYU 78
USF 74
 
6:00pm Tonight
PRIN
HARV
 
7:00pm Tonight
CORN
BRO
 
7:00pm Tonight
PENN
DART
 
7:00pm Tonight
NIAG
MAR
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAN
QUIN
 
7:00pm Tonight
MAN
SIENA
 
8:00pm Tonight
WILL
IUPUI
 
8:00pm Tonight
FAIR
MON
 
8:00pm Tonight
ARST
OREG
 
8:00pm Tonight
CLMB
YALE
 
10:00pm Tonight
BUF
KSU
 
10:00pm Tonight
ARZ
ORST
 
Final
NYI 2
BOS 5
Final
NYR 0
MON 1
Final
PHI 5
WIN 2
Final
TOR 1
ARI 3
Final
FLA 3
CLB 2
Final
TAM 5
DET 1
Final
STL 5
NAS 4
Final
CAL 0
MIN 1
Final
EDM 3
BUF 2
Final
SJS 6
ANA 3
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
PIT
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
STL
 
9:00pm Tonight
COL
NAS
 
10:00pm Tonight
VAN
BUF
 
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
CHI