Norman, Okla. will be rocking as the Oklahoma Sooners faithful will be waiting for the upset-minded Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks on Saturday, Aug. 31. The college football season will open with a bang for one team and a flutter for the other.
The Sooners are ranked No. 16 in the ESPN preseason poll, while the Warhawks are looking for another early-season statement win, much like the one the program earned in 2012 against the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Here's how you can watch, as well as information on the spread.
When: Saturday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. ET
TV Info: Fox Sports
Spread info via Bovada:
Spread: Oklahoma -21.5
Injury Report (Via USA Today):
Jake Reed, OL, Out Indefinitely (Suspension)
Cortez Johnson, DB, Out (Suspension)
Chuka Ndule, DE, Out (Suspension)
Jordan Smallwood, WR, Out Indefinitely (Foot)
DJ Ward, DE, Out (Stomach)
Kendal Thompson, QB, Out Indefinitely (Foot)
Key Storylines to Watch
Can Louisiana-Monroe Stay In it Early?
When the Warhawks knocked off the Razorbacks in the season opener in 2012, they came back from a 14-point deficit two times. They can't hope to make that type of run against the Sooners in Norman.
If this is going to be anything more than the blowout the oddsmakers predict, the Warhawks must stay close early.
The onus will fall on senior QB Kolton Browning to engineer productive drives in the first five possessions. Three-and-outs and turnovers will allow this game to get out of hand quickly.
The Sooners' QB Play
Per News Channel 4 in Oklahoma City, sources say Sooners head coach Bob Stoops will name redshirt quarterback Trevor Knight as the starter. Knight would reportedly be the winner of a tough competition over the spring with junior Blake Bell.
Knight is the more athletic of the two signal-callers, but it will be interesting to see if his leash is short considering Bell was Landry Jones' backup the last two seasons in Norman.
Can the Warhawks Establish Anything on the Ground?
In 2012, the Warhawks were led in rushing by Browning, who mustered a modest 488 yards and seven touchdowns. If the Warhawks are to have a chance at defeating the Sooners, they need to be at least respectable on the ground.
Senior running back Jyruss Edwards needs to have a breakout season. Kicking off the year with a strong performance against a tough team like Oklahoma would be ideal.
The Sooners were ranked 95th in the nation against the run, per CFBStats.com. This is the area of the Sooners' defense that could be most vulnerable.
Will the Sooners Defense Show Improvement from 2012?
If Oklahoma is going to make this a special season, the run defense has to improve. While the team will get far stiffer challenges the rest of the way, it must get off to a good start against the Warhawks.
Louisiana-Monroe is devoid of a playmaker in the running game. The Sooners' defense must build their confidence but snuffing out the ground game, thus allowing their defensive line to concentrate on putting pressure on Browning.
This game could serve as a confidence builder for a unit that has to be feeling a little beat up after allowing 23 runs of 20 yards or more in 2012, per CFBStats.
Healthy Damien Williams Spells Trouble for Warhawks
After an ankle injury hampered the Sooners senior running back in 2012, he is back and healthy for the 2013 season. Williams is a sleeper candidate for the Heisman after rushing for 946 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.
He's a terror in the open field and he could be a part of the play(s) that breaks this game open.
Oklahoma won't be caught off guard like the Razorback. The team isn't experiencing the distractions Arkansas dealt with in 2012, either. The Warhawks are too one-dimensional on offense and defensively they will have a terrible time trying to contain the Sooners.
Look for this one to get out of hand by halftime. The Sooners will win 40-18.
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