The Oklahoma Sooners opened as 26.5 point road favorites against Tulane in week one per Tipico betting odds. However, with the game now in Norman due to the destruction of Hurrican Ida, that line has ballooned to 31.5. And rightfully so, OU boasts a combination of depth, talent, and experience that has forced all of college football to acknowledge its legitimacy as a national title contender.
But if the college football playoff has taught us anything, it’s that winning the games you’re expected to win is not enough. It’s also about winning those games how others expect you to win them.
With one of the Big 12’s weakest non-conference schedules, it’s imperative that the Sooners are in midseason form as quickly as possible.
Saturday’s contest arrives under unusual circumstances. On the one hand, the Sooners now receive the benefit of an extra home game. On the other, many of the Green Wave are Lousiana natives who have spent days worrying about their homes and loved ones.
While it’s difficult to predict how emotions unfold at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium this weekend, Tulane would certainly enjoy playing the role of spoiler in the Sooners’ own backyard.
Here are the Green Wave best poised to make things interesting in Norman.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Jha’quan Jackson, WR
While the young pass-catcher didn’t lead the Green Wave in receiving yards last season, he made a name for himself in his first full season of collegiate play. Jackson led the team with 788 all-purpose yards and was the team’s best receiving weapon with a team-high eight touchdown grabs.
His breakout performance came against UCF when he gutted the Knights for 180 total yards and two touchdowns. Look for Willie Fritz to further capitalize on Jackson’s versatility this season. He rushed the ball just twice in 2020 but averaged 15.5 yards per carry. Additional opportunities in the ground game could be how Jackson takes the next step in 2021.
James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Michael Pratt, QB
While the modern offense asks quarterbacks to throw for more than 180 yards per game, it’s difficult to discount what Michael Pratt accomplished last season. His 20 touchdown passes were the most among any true freshman in the country, and his eight rushing touchdowns were second on the team.
The Green Wave like what they’ve found in the young quarterback and believe new offensive coordinator Chip Long can maximize his potential. Tulane lost four one-possession games last year, a trend Pratt could help them buck in 2021.
The Sooners are no strangers to dual-threat quarterbacks. However, Pratt’s legs are something defensive coordinator Alex Grinch must account for this weekend.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Larry Brooks, CB
The Sooners have too many weapons at receiver for Brooks to shut down OU’s passing game. However, the veteran corner has what it takes to be in the right place at the right time. Brooks led the Green Wave in pass breakups (3), interceptions (3), and fumble recoveries (2) in 2020.
A complete corner that can do more than cover, Larry Brooks also forced a fumble and logged 58 tackles last year. He’s a cog in the Tulane defense and a player who could stand out on Saturday.
Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
Cameron Carroll, RB
At 225 pounds, Cameron Carroll has the frame needed to run against punishing defensive linemen. He totaled 789 rush yards last season and led the Green Wave with 12 rushing touchdowns. Carroll is part of a three-headed rushing attack that also features Pratt and running back Stephon Huderson.