Berry’s college football picks: OU in Tulsa is good for both programs

Berry’s college football picks: OU in Tulsa is good for both programs

For three quarters of a century, Tulsans and Oklahomans in the northeastern part of the state have been drawn to Sooner football. And every seven or eight years, OU football is drawn to them.

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Sep 14, 2023, 1:00pm CDT

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Sep 14, 2023, 1:00pm CDT

(This story has been updated to correct the street where Tulsa’s football stadium is located.)

OU plays at Tulsa on Saturday. Getting the Sooners in Green Country is a special event.

For three quarters of a century, Tulsans and Oklahomans in the northeastern part of the state have been drawn to Sooner football. And every seven or eight years, OU football is drawn to them.

Tulsa ticket sales zoom. OU’s public relations soars. TU’s Chapman Stadium comes alive.

It’s certainly a great opportunity for us to play on the road,” OU coach Brent Venables said. “At least we’re playing in-state, so a lot of people that love the Sooners have an opportunity to watch us play.

“I like the familiarity that the players will have with one another. Again, half their team is from the state of Oklahoma or the Dallas Metroplex. I think it’s great for them and their program.”

The OU-Tulsa rivalry isn’t annual. The schools haven’t played since 2015. They aren’t scheduled to play again until 2030. But the Sooners periodically agree to play in Tulsa. 2014. 2007. 2002. 1987. Now 2023.

OU at Tulsa is a rare example of a major power playing an in-state road game against a mid-major.

Michigan doesn’t play at Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan or Central Michigan.

Alabama never has played Alabama-Birmingham or South Alabama anywhere.

Southern Cal never has played at Fresno State and last played at San Diego State in 1992.

Louisiana State never plays at Louisiana-Lafayette or Louisiana Tech; LSU went home-and-home with Tulane for seemingly forever, but that agreement ended in 1992. Since then, LSU has played at Tulane twice, in 1994 and 2007.

Ohio State doesn’t take its show to Bowling Green or Toledo or Kent State. The Buckeyes played at Cincinnati in 2002, when the Bearcats were a mid-major.

Texas never goes to North Texas, but the Longhorns did play at Rice in 1997, two years after the final Southwest Conference season, and UT played at Texas-El Paso in 2009.

Maybe the closest thing to OU-Tulsa is Penn State-Temple. The Nittany Lions played at Temple in 2015, 2007, 1994, 1991, 1988, 1986 and 1983. And Penn State returns in 2026. But since 1978, Temple has played at the off-campus Veterans Stadium or Lincoln Financial Field.

In Tulsa, OU goes to Chapman Stadium, right on campus and hard by East 11st Street.

“We want to see everybody in-state have some level of success,” Venables said. “So, it gives us both an opportunity for people to pitch their flag, if you will, and show their loyalty.

“It’s good for the pageantry of college football, you know, playing each other in-state as they build their program and we’re building ours. I think we all win through it all.”

The Sooners have lost just once to Tulsa since the series resumed in 1979 — a 31-24 upset in 1996.

Let’s get to the predictions:

Oklahoma at Tulsa: Sooners 41-13. OU’s all-time record vs. the Golden Hurricane is just 20-7-1. But TU’s only series win since World War II came in 1996, 31-24.

South Alabama at Oklahoma State: Cowboys 35-17. Jaguars have come a long way since losing to OSU 44-7 in 2017 and 55-13 in 2018.

Texas Christian at Houston: Horned Frogs 29-19. Winner leads the Big 12. The Cougars’ 43-41, double-overtime loss at Rice was a potential season-killer. 

Brigham Young at Arkansas: Razorbacks 24-13. Arkansas’ 52-35 win last year in Provo, Utah, was the first meeting in the series.

Pittsburgh at West Virginia: Panthers 24-23. The Backyard Brawl was won by Pitt in dramatic fashion a year ago and sent the Mountaineers on a rapid descent. Could the same thing happen?

Kansas State at Missouri: Wildcats 27-20. This old rivalry, from Missouri Valley days, was renewed last season, with K-State rolling 40-12 in the rain at Manhattan.

Wyoming at Texas: Longhorns 34-14. Forty-seven years ago, UT went to Laramie and hired away Fred Akers to coach the ‘Horns. The Cowboys aren’t likely to extract revenge anytime soon.

Miami-Ohio at Cincinnati: Bearcats 39-14. Big 12 fans soon will learn that the UC-Miami rivalry is tradition-rich. The game has been staged 126 times, with Cincinnati leading 60-59-7.

Iowa State at Ohio: Bobcats 17-13. Upset special. The Cyclones put a lot into upsetting Iowa, then fell short, 20-13. Now ISU goes onto the road against a solid mid-major that rarely gets a Power Five opponent on campus. Recipe for disaster.

Kansas at Nevada: Jayhawks 56-19. KU looked for real against Illinois. Really real.

Long Island at Baylor: Bears 50-7. Long Island? Seriously?

Villanova at Central Florida: Knights 42-7. Big and clutch win for UCF at Boise State, 18-16. But Knights quarterback John Rhys Plumlee was injured late and will miss several weeks, including the Big 12 opener at Kansas State next week.

Tarleton State at Texas Tech: Red Raiders 58-13. Tech is 0-2, with two tight losses. Few saw that coming.

Tennessee at Florida: Gators 26-24. National upset special. Seems premature to assume that the Volunteers are automatically back as an annual force. Florida looked awful against Utah, but this is a vintage rivalry from the 1990s. Here’s saying the Gators find a way to spring the surprise.

Louisiana State at Mississippi State: Tigers 42-13. Trips to Starkville generally aren’t easy, but the Bulldogs were at home last week and needed overtime to survive Arizona.

South Carolina at Georgia: Bulldogs 38-14. Georgia will be napping until December.

Georgia Tech at Ole Miss: Rebels 33-20. Mississippi backup quarterback Spencer Sanders, late of OSU, got in for one play last week against Tulane. And that was because starter Jaxson Dart’s helmet came off. 

Vanderbilt at Nevada-Las Vegas: Commodores 25-21. Nashville vs. Vegas. The entertainment debate would be better than any football encounter between these teams.

Akron at Kentucky: Wildcats 31-12. Kentucky has been taking its time to vanquish overmatched foes. But that’s nothing new.

Alabama at South Florida: Crimson Tide 62-10. Just USF’s luck. Bama loses (to Texas) the week before its trip to Tampa.

Louisiana-Monroe at Texas A&M: Aggies 55-12. In a 48-33 loss at Miami, A&M allowed seven first-quarter points, then double-digit scoring each of the next three periods.

Samford at Auburn: Tigers 51-14. Samford is the school that begat Bobby Bowden. If somebody has something else interesting to say, I tip my cap.

Minnesota at North Carolina: Tar Heels 23-20. Fascinating matchup. Gophers seem stout defensively; UNC has quarterback star Drake Maye.

Washington at Michigan State: Huskies 41-14. Three months ago, no one could believe that either Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald, Michigan’s Jim Harbaugh or Michigan State’s Mel Tucker would not be coaching Week 3. But now, all three are gone. Harbaugh is expected back soon.

Penn State at Illinois: Nittany Lions 26-20. The Illini didn’t look good much of their game at Kansas, but Illinois picked up steam as the game went on.

Syracuse at Purdue: Boilermakers 28-25. The Orange made its season a year ago with a stirring rally against Purdue. The Boilermakers aren’t likely to let another one slip away.

Louisville vs. Indiana in Indianapolis: Cardinals 30-15. Strange matchup for a neutral-site game. 

Virginia Tech at Rutgers: Scarlet Knights 23-20. Rutgers could be 3-0 when it goes to Michigan next week.

Virginia at Maryland: Terrapins 38-10. Do you have trouble remembering that Maryland no longer is in the Atlantic Coast Conference? Me, too.

Northwestern at Duke: Blue Devils 29-7. Not so long ago, the Wildcats had the upper hand in this academic-bowl showdown. Not anymore.

Northern Illinois at Nebraska: Cornhuskers 44-14. Matt Rhule finally gets his first win at Nebraska. They are hard to come by these days. The Huskers are 23-49 in their last 72 games.

Georgia Southern at Wisconsin: Badgers 38-15. The Luke Fickell transformation will take awhile, as Washington State showed last week.

Western Michigan at Iowa: Hawkeyes 42-8. Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz needs the Hawkeyes to average 25 points a game, else he could be fired. Iowa is averaging 22 points through two games, but the Broncos gave up 49 to Syracuse, so Ferentz should build up a cushion.

Bowling Green at Michigan: Wolverines 41-3. With suspended Jim Harbaugh sitting out a third (and final) game, Michigan’s interim coach this week is Sherrone Moore, an OU guard in 2006 and 2007.

Western Kentucky at Ohio State: Buckeyes 48-7. Something seems amiss in Columbus, but I’m not sure what.

Colorado State at Colorado: Buffaloes 51-20. Both ESPN and Fox are taking their morning pregame shows to Boulder, even though kickoff is at 9 p.m. Oklahoma time. The Deion Sanders hype knows no bounds.

San Diego State at Oregon State: Beavers 38-14. Seems likely that the Aztecs and Beavers will be in the Mountain West Conference together next season.

Fresno State at Arizona State: Sun Devils 22-21. Interesting game from OSU’s perspective. Fresno State is a solid mid-major; will the Bulldogs handle the Sun Devils, too?

Hawaii at Oregon: Ducks 37-11. Oregon quarterback Bo Nix was marvelous vs. Texas Tech, completing 32 of 44 passes for 359 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Texas-El Paso at Arizona: Wildcats 41-14. We’ve spent a lot of time paying attention to Colorado, Utah and Arizona State. Better start getting serious about Arizona. The Wildcats are Big 12-bound, too.

Sacramento State at Stanford: Cardinal 30-20. Stanford hired away Sacramento State coach Troy Taylor last off-season. Wonder if he’s glad he took the job?

Idaho at California: Golden Bears 41-21. Cal dang near knocked off Auburn last week. The Bears might do some damage in the ACC.

Weber State at Utah: Utes 31-3. Utah deserves a breather, having opened with Florida and Baylor.

Northern Colorado at Washington State: Cougars 29-14. WSU’s win over Wisconsin last week gave the Cougars a sweep of the two-game series.

North Carolina Central at UCLA: Bruins 55-16. Not that long ago, UCLA never had played a Division I-AA foe. But when the Bruins jump into easy scheduling, they go cannonball.

Florida State at Boston College: Seminoles 48-14. BC squeaked by Holy Cross 31-28 last week. The end is in sight for Eagles coach Jeff Hafley.

Wake Forest at Old Dominion: Demon Deacons 29-28. In his 10th season as the Wake head coach, Dave Clawson is 61-53, a remarkably solid record for the Deacons.

Florida Atlantic at Clemson: Tigers 31-20. FAU quarterback Casey Thompson vs. the struggling Tigers, who led Charleston Southern just 24-17 at halftime last Saturday. 

Bethune-Cookman at Miami: Hurricanes 37-7. Miami quarterback Tyler Van Dyke is off to a monster start — 73.1 percent completions, with six TD passes and one interception.

Virginia Military at North Carolina State: Wolfpack 49-6. VMI sounded like such a regal name when I heard it as a kid on the Prudential College Scoreboard.

Central Michigan at Notre Dame: Fighting Irish 35-3. Warmup for Notre Dame’s big game at Ohio State next week.

Army at Texas-San Antonio: Roadrunners 32-21. Army comes to an Air Force town. 

Florida International at Connecticut: Huskies 20-19. UConn came perilously close to a Big 12 invitation. That would not have been pretty. 

Utah State at Air Force: Falcons 26-24. The Mountain West has scrapped divisions this season. The winner takes the conference lead.

New Mexico State at New Mexico: Lobos 24-23. The in-state rivalry I’d least like to see.

San Jose State at Toledo: Rockets 29-21. Excellent mid-major game. Both sport solid teams.

North Dakota at Boise State: Broncos 34-16. Boise State ranks with Baylor and Texas Tech as the nation’s best 0-2 teams.

Navy at Memphis: Tigers 31-12. Thursday night game that’s neither must-see or must-miss TV.

Tulane at Southern Mississippi: Green Wave 28-20. Last week against Ole Miss, Tulane put up a valiant fight without injured star quarterback Michael Pratt.

East Carolina at Appalachian State: Mountaineers 42-30. Why is it “East” Carolina but “Western” Carolina?

Louisiana at Alabama-Birmingham: Ragin’ Cajuns 33-24. New UAB coach Trent Dilfer suffered a 49-35 loss to Georgia Southern last week in his first real test as head coach.

North Texas at Louisiana Tech: Bulldogs 25-21. Each played Florida International. Tech won at home 22-17; North Texas lost 46-39. 

James Madison at Troy: Trojans 23-20. Early Sun Belt Conference showdown.

Last week: 61-11. Season: 118-20.

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Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

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