With almost every top-25 team set to play an unranked opponent this weekend, No.19 Oklahoma vs. No.23 Tennessee is among the most intriguing matchups of the Week 2 college football schedule. The Sooners visit the Volunteers at Neyland Stadium on Saturday in the most important nonconference game for either school this season.
Both teams got off to strong starts in their openers, winning by large margins. Oklahoma nearly shut out Akron, winning 41-3. Tennessee’s offense had little trouble against Bowling Green, 59-30.
Even though Oklahoma is on the road, they are slight favorites, according to vegasinsider.com. Las Vegas casinos have the Sooners giving the Volunteers 1.5 points. ESPN will broadcast the game at 6 p.m. ET, and a free live stream will be available online with WatchESPN.
Tennessee Seeks Revenge
Tennessee is looking for a measure of revenge after they were blown out by Oklahoma, 34-10, a year ago. The Sooners handed the Volunteers their first loss of the season, sending Tennessee into a skid that would see them lose five of six contests.
With Justin Worley taking every snap at quarterback, Tennessee had trouble moving the ball. Worley completed less than 50 percent of his passes for 201 yards, throwing one touchdown and two interceptions. Oklahoma returned one interception for a touchdown, and a 308-yard performance by Trevor Knight was more than enough for the Sooners.
Star Running Backs
Jalen Hurd and Samaje Perine were just freshmen in 2014, but they made an immediate impact. Both teams will rely heavily on their respective running backs when they meet on Saturday.
Perine was Oklahoma’s best player last season, carrying the ball 263 times for 1,713 yards and 21 touchdowns. The running back wasn’t used much until conference play began, but he started to put up eye-popping numbers when given the chance. Perine even broke the all-time record by rushing for 427 yards in one game, averaging 12.6 yards per carry. He’s hoping to improve after a slow start, totaling just 33 yards on 11 attempts against Akron.
Hurd’s numbers weren’t as impressive as Perine’s last year, as he rushed for 899 yards. But he looks poised to have a big sophomore campaign after rushing 23 times for 123 yards and three scores last week, and he wasn’t even the team’s leading rusher. Alvin Kamara totaled 144 yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries, and the two sophomores form one of college football’s best backfields.
Saturday’s game isn’t expected to be a defensive struggle, and the over/under of 63 points is one of the highest on the schedule. After Tennessee and Oklahoma combined to score 100 points last week, both teams could find themselves making several trips to the end zone again.
Quarterback Joshua Dobbs is much improved from a year ago when he didn’t begin the year as the starter. But the junior led Tennessee to four wins in their last five games in 2014, and his 68.5 percent completion rate and 89 rushing yards helped the Volunteers score 59 points in the 2015 opener. His ability to run, combined with Tennessee’s deep backfield, will be a difficult combination to contain.
Baker Mayfield played in a college football game for the first time since 2013 when he started for Oklahoma last week, and he looked like a quarterback that can help the Sooners compete with the nation’s top teams. Mayfield went 23-of-33 for 388 yards and three touchdowns, and he could take advantage of a questionable Tennessee defense that gave up 30 points to Bowling Green.
Both teams have the ability to put up a lot of points, and the game could come down to who has the ball last. But with the contest set to be played in front of over 105,000 fans in Knoxville, the Vols may have the advantage.
Tennessee 38, Oklahoma 37