Tennessee @ Oklahoma
Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, Oklahoma
1am Irish Time (Saturday night) September 14th 2014 (ABC Network)
It hasn’t taken much effort for the #4 ranked Oklahoma Sooners to start 2-0 this season and that might have some people close to the program worried heading into this Week 3 matchup against an SEC foe. However, the Sooners are gelling as a team before they hit the tough part of their schedule. This could be the year Butch Jones leads the Tennessee Volunteers to the distinction of “contender” in the SEC. It has been quite a few years since the Volunteers have actually earned the right to be called a contender, but the new head coach has the team headed in the right direction and a win against Oklahoma would be quite the program-builder.
Bob Stoops could possibly have his most talented Oklahoma team ever in 2014. There really is no ceiling for this team as he has put together quite the unit and the offense is stronger than it has been in quite some time. Sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight leads the way for the offense with his 552 yards and three touchdowns through the air as well as his 52 yards and a score on the ground. Sterling Shepard has stepped up to give the young starter some help in the passing game by grabbing 12 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns while Durron Neal hasn’t exactly been a slouch, either, catching eight passes for 112 yards. Don’t sleep on the 42nd-ranked rushing attack behind Keith Ford and his 138 yards and four touchdowns on 7.3 yards per carry. Alex Ross has given the Sooners a solid one-two punch with his 126 yards and three scores on the ground.
Oklahoma will be Tennessee’s first true test of the season and that is exactly what the Volunteers need heading into conference play in two weeks. Senior quarterback Justin Worley has basically gotten two warm-up games to prepare for the Sooners and he has looked much improved from a season ago. Worley has passed for 520 yards and five touchdowns after throwing just 10 touchdowns all of last season. Marquez North has been Worley’s top target, catching eight passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns while Von Pearson has been hot on his heels with seven catches for 98 yards and a score. The run game, however, has not been nearly as impressive, ranking 91st in the nation in terms of yards per game. Jalen Hurd leads all rushers with 112 yards and a score on 34 carries – just a 3.3 yards per carry average – while Marlin Lane has 95 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries.
Defensively, the Volunteers have allowed just an average of 13 points per game this season, but haven’t quite played an opponent with a potent offense until now. The Volunteers have allowed an average of just 288 total yards per game through the first two, including an average of just 120 on the ground. Oklahoma has also been quite stingy, allowing just 11.5 points per game as well as just about 286 total yards per contest. Neither team has been truly tested yet.
PREDICTION: Tennessee 24, Oklahoma 41