Oklahoma football: What fans need to know about Week 3 OU vs. Tulsa

Sep 9, 2023; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Brent Venables walks arm in arm with his team before the game against the Southern Methodist Mustangs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2023; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners head coach Brent Venables walks arm in arm with his team before the game against the Southern Methodist Mustangs at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

Week 3 of the 2023 Oklahoma football schedule features a matchup between the 19th-ranked Sooners and in-state foe the Tulsa Golden Hurricane.

It is the final nonconference game of the season for the Sooners who begin their final run through the Big 12 next weekend with a road game at Cincinnati.

These two teams have played 28 times but not since 2015. The Sooners have won the last nine games played against the Golden Hurricane and have not lost to Tulsa since 1996, a 31-24 loss in the first year of the Big 12.

The Sooners are 7-3 all-time in games played at Tulsa, including wins the last four trips to Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium.

Tulsa enters the game on Saturday having split its first two games of the 2023 season. The Golden Hurricane won handily over Arkansas Pine Bluff 42-7 in Week 1 and fell at Washington last weekend by virtually the same score, 43-10. The Sooners are looking to start the season 3-0 for the 18th time since 1999, or the past 24 seasons.

Oklahoma is a heavy favorite in the game (-28.5). The Golden Hurricane, like the Sooners, suffered through a difficult year last season ending up with a 5-7 overall record and an eighth-place finish in the American Athletic Association. As a result, Phillip Montgomery was fired as head coach. His replacement is former Oklahoma offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. Also on the Tulsa coaching staff is former OU defensive back Dominique Franks.

Brent Venables and Wilson worked together for nine seasons on Bob Stoops’ coaching staff from 2002 to 2010.

Saturday’s game will be televised on ESPN2 with the announcing team of Dave Fleming, Brock Osweiler and Kayla Burton. Kickoff is set for 2:30 CT.

What fans should know about Tulsa

Tulsa is averaging 26.0 points a game through two games and 406 yards of total offense. Problem is, the Golden Hurricane are allowing an average of 417 yards on the defensive side. Washington totaled 563 yards of offense in a 43-10 smackdown of Tulsa last weekend.

Running the football is the team’s offensive strength. Tulsa used five running backs in the season opener and averaged 5.5 yards per carry. The production wasn’t quite as strong in Week 2 at Washington, but Jordan Ford, the team’s leading rusher on the season, Bill Jackson and Anthony Watkins all rushed for at least 50 yards. Marquis Shoulder is the Golden Hurricane’s leading receiver. He has eight catches in two games for 155 yards and a couple of touchdowns.

Tulsa is down to its second- and third-string quarterbacks after an injury to starter Braylon Braxton in the season opener. Cardell Williams and Roman Fuller have shared the QB duties since Braxton went down.

Fifth-year senior safety Kendarin Ray is the key figure on the Tulsa defensive unit. He leads the Golden Hurricane with 17 tackles in the first two games this season and has 239 for his career.

What fans should know about Oklahoma

Through two games, Oklahoma ranks sixth in the country in scoring (averaging 50.5 per game), 29th in passing offense (299.0 yards per game), 34th in rushing offense (204.5 per game) and 16th in total offense (503.5 per game). The Sooners had 15 scoring plays of 10-plus plays in 2022. Already in 2023, they have seven scoring drives of 10-plus plays.

The bigger headline, though, has to do with the defensive improvement after two games. The Sooners ranked 122nd out of 131 FBS teams last season in total defense and 82nd in yards allowed per play. Two games into the 2023 season, Oklahoma ranks 35th in total defense (287.5 yards allowed) and 32nd in yards per play allowed (4.5).

A deep running back and wide receiver corps has given QB Dillon Gabriel and the Sooners multiple offensive weapons to call on. Gabriel has thrown for 31 touchdowns in his two seasons at Oklahoma. He has 101 for his career (which began in 2019 at UCF), second most among FBS teams since the 2019 season (Sam Hartman of Wake Forest and Notre Dame has 104).

The Sooners have not committed a turnover in their first two games this season.

OU’s best quarter this season has been the first quarter. The Sooners have outscored their two opponents 35-3 in the opening 15 minutes. The Sooner defense has not given up a point in either the second or third quarter.

Oklahoma is 85-7 when scoring at least 35 points and has won 84 of the last 85 games in which it has held the opponent to 23 or fewer points.

Striking Sooner stat

Tulsa running backs are averaging over five yards per carry. Through the first two games, the reworked Oklahoma defense is holding its opponents to 2.9 yards per rush.


This is not a good matchup for Tulsa. The Sooners are a much more talented and a deeper team. Similar to Week 1, Oklahoma should be able to go deep in its roster and give a lot of players an opportunity to see action in the game. One thing to watch is if OU keeps its foot on the gas or becomes complacent and plays down to its competition. The latter has become a problem with Sooner teams historically when going against an inferior opponent. Not this week.

Oklahoma 59, Tulsa 10