Oklahoma football: What fans need to know about Oklahoma vs. BYU

Sep 5, 2009; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Jermie Calhoun (23) rushes against the Brigham Young Cougars at Cowboys Stadium. The Cougars beat the Sooners 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 5, 2009; Arlington, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Jermie Calhoun (23) rushes against the Brigham Young Cougars at Cowboys Stadium. The Cougars beat the Sooners 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Oklahoma football team makes its first ever trip to Provo, Utah, this weekend to go up against a BYU team that has yet to lose to the Sooners in two previous games.

It will be another early call for OU with the 14th-ranked Sooners and Cougars scheduled for what will be a 10 a.m. kickoff in the Mountain Time Zone (11 a.m. CT). This will be the sixth time this season Oklahoma has been assigned to the early morning TV window.

BYU is 2-0 all-time against the Sooners. BYU won 31-6 in the Copper Bowl in 1994 in Gary Gibbs’ final season as the OU head coach. The most recent game between these two teams was in the season opener in 2009. The Cougars prevailed in 2009 14-13 when OU Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford suffered an injured shoulder right before halftime.

Some Sooner fans are referring to Saturday’s matchup as the Sam Bradford Revenge Game. Bradford played just five more quarters after being injured in the BYU game. He reinjured the shoulder in game six that season against Texas and missed the remainder of the season.

No, 14, 8-2, 5-2. 815. ESPN. Saturday, Nov. 18. 11 a.m. CT. 5-5, 2-5. 861. Sooners -24.0

What’s at stake for Oklahoma is this game is a chance to remain alive in the hunt for a spot in the Big 12 Championship. The Sooners must win their final two games and hope for either Texas or Oklahoma State to stumble in one of their final two regular-season games. BYU also has something to play for in its home finale. The Cougars need one more win to become bowl eligible.

Oklahoma comes into its final road game of the season with an 8-2 mark overall and a 5-2 record in the Big 12, tied with three other teams for second place. BYU sports a 5-5 record and is in a five-way tie for ninth place in the league standings with a 2-5 record.

The game will be televised by ESPN beginning at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday. The announce team will be Mark Jones, Louis Riddick and Quint Kessenich.

What to know about BYU

BYU is in its first season as a member of the Big 12. The Cougars are last in the conference in scoring (21.9) and total offense (300 yards per game) and is next to last in total defense (allowing 414 yards per game). BYU is a different team at home than on the road this season. The Cougars are 4-1 at Lavell Edwards Stadium in 2023. The lone loss came against Iowa State 45-13 last weekend.

The Cougars hope to have starting quarterback Kedon Slovis back for Saturday’s game. Slovis has missed the last two games with an injury. If he is unable to go, Jake Retzlaff will be at quarterback. LJ Martin handles most of the rushing duties, averaging 60 yards a game and nearly 5.0 yards per carry. The top pass-receiving threat is 6-foot, 4-inch Chase Roberts with 534 receiving yards and four touchdowns.

Senior linebacker Max Tooley is arguably BYU’s best player on defense. He has a team-high 74 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and one sack. Defensive back Jakob Robinson may be small in stature (5-foot-10, 170 pounds), but he is a big-time pass defender and a ball thief. He’s among the team leaders in tackles (53) to go along with four interceptions, four pass breakups and 10 passes defended. His four interceptions are tied with OU’s Billy Bowman for second in the Big 12.

BYU’s Ryan Rehkow leads the Big 12 in punting with a 48.8 average.

What to know about Oklahoma

Dillon Gabriel is having his best collegiate season. He leads the Big 12 and ranks in the top-10 nationally in seven major statistical categories, including total offense (340.6 yards per game), passing offense (306.9) and passing TDs (25). Gavin Sawchuk appears to have claimed the lead running back position. The sophomore is coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing games.

Drake Stoops leads the Big 12 with 62 catches and nine receiving touchdowns, and redshirt-freshman Nic Anderson leads the country with 25.7 receiving yards per reception. Eight of his 24 total catches have resulted in touchdowns.

OU leads the Big 12 in scoring offense (41.8), total offense (505.4 yards per game) and passing offense (323.8).

The Oklahoma defense has been the big story this season. The Sooners lead all FBS teams with 17 interceptions. After ranking 98th in scoring defense (30.0 points per game) and 121st in total defense (461.0 yards allowed per game), OU has improved to 27th in scoring defense (19.8) and 68th in total defense (376.8 yards allowed) this season. In addition, the Sooners rank ninth in the nation this season in third-down conversion percentage defense (28.7 percent). That’s down from 87th and 40.9 percent a year ago.

Key matchups

  • Oklahoma’s run game (35th nationally at 181.0 yards per game) vs. BYU’s rush defense (114th nationally with 180.6 yards allowed per game),
  • OU’s third-down offense (15th best success rate in the FBS) vs. BYU’s 112th-ranked third-down conversion percentage defense.

Striking Sooner stat

Oklahoma has outscored its opponents 126 to 44 in the first quarter this season. That is the second-best first-quarter margin in college football this season.


Oklahoma is a 24.0-point favorite in the game, which seems a bit on the high side to me. OU is 6-3 against the spread this season, according to BetSided.com, a betting site affiliated with the FanSided network. BYU is 2-7 ATS. The Sooners have a distinct advantage both in talent and statistically but have been very inconsistent in Big 12 road games this season. And Provo can be a very difficult place to play for visiting teams. The Sooners have more to play for and will win the game but not quite by the margin projected: Oklahoma 45, BYU 24.