At long last, here we are folks: it’s football time in Oklahoma!
The off-season was a brutal one too: the Thunder took an early hammer to their roster, the last season of Game of Thrones sucked, and I graduated into a cold, unforgiving world.
But thankfully, football season is here to make everything right again*! And for Oklahoma, what a cooler way to start than with a Sunday Night Primetime game against a good opponent?
Meet the Cougars
After a brief two year hiatus from relevance, the Houston Cougars are looking to make another run at a New Year’s Six bowl. Former West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorson is aiming to turn the program around after the massively disappointing Major Applewhite era.
Much like 2016, this Houston team is an offensively scary team entering Norman with upset potential. All eyes will be on this game, as it is the only one on Labor Day Sunday. Once again, the Sooners must be ready to go from the first snap. No easing into this one.
Who to Watch For:
#4 D’Eriq King, QB
Talk about a tough first task for Alex Grinch’s newly implemented Speed D. D’Eriq King is coming into 2019 with Dark Horse Heisman hype, and it’s easy to see why. King is a duel threat QB with plenty of speed and arm strength to make this a long day for the Sooners. This is the perfect stage for a player like King to get placed directly on the college football map.
As we have noted many times on both this blog and The Schooner Pod, OU is historically awful against mobile quarterbacks and King might be one of the best we see all year.
Why You Should Be Excited
Other than the obvious “it’s game one!”, this is an incredibly intriguing first game for the Sooners.
Houston is a great first opponent and one that shouldn’t be a total pushover like most game ones tend to be. Add in the debuts of Jalen Hurts, Speed D and the fantastic New Wave ‘19 recruiting class, there is plenty of good football to be thrilled about.
As for the atmosphere, the energy will be next-level stuff. From the ultra-rare Sunday game, to the White Out, to the debut of in-stadium alcohol and of course, A LATE KICKOFF, there is no reason this atmosphere shouldn’t be an all-timer.
Series History (OU Leads 2-1)
Despite being pretty close in proximity, OU and Houston have a very limited history. While the Sooners two wins in the series are relatively uninteresting, the one loss still is pretty fresh.
That game of course was the 2016 season opener loss at the extremely cursed NRG Stadium. Fresh off a Playoff appearance the year before, Baker Mayfield and the Sooners came out flat with the offense never quite clicking.
Houston and then-head coach Tom Herman seemingly got every break at every turn, while OU couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot. The turning point came when the Cougars brought back a kick-six in the third quarter. Immediately after, the Sooners coughed up the ball within their own 50 to give Houston prime field position for a score.
OU got it together and made a small rally toward the end of the 4th quarter, but it was too little too late. This loss, along with the Ohio State L two weeks later, would lock the Sooners out of the Playoff despite going undefeated in conference. While Ohio State was a game that went decisively to the Buckeyes, this loss lingered as a major “what if?” as Houston would prove to be just mediocre at best.
Tom Herman, Ed Oliver and Greg Ward Jr. might be gone, but this is a retooling, dangerous team. And while Dana Holgorson has yet to beat Oklahoma as a head coach, he’s gotten closer than most. The Sooners will need to show up if they want to avoid repeating history.