Oklahoma football 2017 kickoff preview: Part I

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02: Baker Mayfield
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02: Baker Mayfield /
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September 9 – The Sooners invade The Horseshoe

GLENDALE, AZ – DECEMBER 31: Quarterback J.T. Barrett
GLENDALE, AZ – DECEMBER 31: Quarterback J.T. Barrett /

Last season’s tussle with the Buckeyes in Norman was nothing short of an unmitigated disaster for the Sooners.

Simply put, Ohio State rolled into Norman and put on a clinic before a capacity crowd of Sooner fans aghast at the hometown team’s lackluster performance.

Even though JT Barrett only threw for 152 passing yards, he tossed four TDs against an overwhelmed Sooner secondary that simply could not stop the Buckeye receivers. Baker Mayfield, pressured and rushed all day, threw a couple of interceptions during an otherwise solid performance. The Buckeyes did considerable damage on the ground, pulverizing the Sooner run defense for 291 rushing yards at a 6.1 yards per carry clip. OUch!

There is no doubt that Oklahoma must play much, much better if it hopes to have a chance to beat the Buckeyes in Columbus. Offensively, Ohio State will once again have JT Barrett under center, so the Oklahoma defense will have to figure out a way to get him out of sync.

Mike Weber, who shredded the Sooner defense for 123 rushing yards last season, also returns. If Oklahoma hopes to compete in this one, slowing down the Buckeye running game is paramount.

Defensively, even though the Buckeyes lost some key secondary talent to the NFL (Marson Lattimore, Malik Hooker and Gareon Conley were all selected during the 2017 NFL draft) the defensive line is talented and deep. If the Buckeyes’ front four are able to pressure Baker Mayfield and slow down the Sooners’ rushing attack, it may be a long day in Columbus for Sooner Nation.

Both Oklahoma and Ohio State enter 2017 as contenders for conference championships and possible CFP berths. The contest on Sept. 9 will quickly reveal who is a contender and who is a pretender.

For Oklahoma, winning this football game would be a tremendous confidence booster and springboard for a national championship run. Even a loss in a tight contest would not be a mortal wound for a Sooner squad that has demonstrated considerable resilience in seasons past.

But if the Sooners lose badly in Columbus, such a loss will most likely derail any playoff hopes. Lincoln Riley and the rest of the Sooner coaching staff surely realize this.

Prediction: Buckeyes 24, Sooners 20