Jenni’s Game Day in Oklahoma: When a Group of Five foe might be tougher than the last Power Five one

Jenni’s Game Day in Oklahoma: When a Group of Five foe might be tougher than the last Power Five one

Whether you’re on your way to the game or getting ready to watch on TV, Jenni Carlson has some Saturday snacks for you to devour. Enjoy these tasty nuggets before OU plays at Tulsa and OSU hosts South Alabama.

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

| Sep 16, 2023, 8:00am CDT

Jenni Carlson

By Jenni Carlson

Sep 16, 2023, 8:00am CDT

OSU returns home for what might end up being a tougher game than its road game last week while OU goes on the road for what will feel like a home game.

Definitely an interesting end to non-conference play.

The Sooners and Cowboys both play in state this week, but OU is headed to Tulsa, where Sooner crimson is likely to outnumber Golden Hurricane blue. OU fans, after all, are as numerous in the northeastern corner of the state as anywhere. Expect a partisan crowd.

(By the way, Tulsa types won’t necessarily be mad about it; the gate will be huge.)

OSU, on the other hand, may find itself in a tussle with South Alabama. The Jaguars have only been an FBS program for a decade, and when they played the Cowboys in back-to-back seasons, 2017-18, OSU rolled, 44-7 and 55-13. 

But a couple of weeks ago, South Alabama hung with Tulane, last season’s Group of Five Cinderella. These Jaguars have started to grow teeth, maybe even more than Arizona State had last week.

So, what can we expect in Stillwater and Tulsa?

Whatever happens, I want to make sure you’re properly fueled for the games, so I offer my weekly pregame snacks. These little lovelies are digestible and packed with goodness. 

Let’s dive in.

Sooner to watch: I’m curious about Gavin Sawchuk. I’ve gone on record as saying I’m on firmly on the Tawee Walker bandwagon. The walk-on tailback has been great through two games, but Sawchuk showed some big flashes a year ago as a freshman. He’s been banged up and limited, though it sounds like this might be the week he gets a little more run. What will that look like? Definitely worth watching.

Cowboy to watch: Until further notice, the correct answer is Alan Bowman/Gunnar Gundy, Garret Rangel. (My Sellout Crowd colleague Ben Hutchens looked at the last time OSU did the three QB weave, full of Clint Chelf’s perspective on starting out as third string). But we literally have no idea how long OSU will continue playing three quarterbacks, so looking elsewhere, I’ll go with Kendal Daniels. South Alabama quarterback Carter Bradley is veteran but a bit interception prone. This may be a chance for Daniels, the free safety, to get his hands on a pass or two.

Newbie Sooner to watch: Yes, it’s Week 3, so newbies aren’t so new anymore, but I still feel like it’s good to keep an eye on newcomers. Watch out for Adepoju Adebawore. The freshman defensive end has only one tackle through two games, but he looked more assertive. Big things could be coming.

Newbie Cowboy to watch: Elijah Collins has run strong in OSU’s first two games, and while I believe Ollie Gordon is cementing himself as the top tailback, Collins, the Michigan State transfer, is big and strong. South Alabama is solid against the run, so having a couple battering-ram options is a good thing. (I wrote about the two women who made Gordon OSU’s most dynamic runner and personality.)

Familiar face in Tulsa: Former OU offensive coordinator and current Tulsa head coach Kevin Wilson will easily be the most familiar face on the Golden Hurricane sideline, but he’s hardly the only one. There are players who played high school football in state, including defensive backs Demarco Jones (Tulsa Booker T. Washington) and NuNu Campbell (Tulsa Holland Hall). There are former OSU Cowboys, including WR Braylin Presley and DL Ben Kopenski. Also on the coaching staff, former OU assistant Steve Spurrier Jr. and former Sooner defender Dom Franks.

Familiar face in Stillwater: A pair of former Sooners are now Jaguars, cornerback Jamarrien Burt and defensive lineman Nathan Rawlins-Kibonge. Neither are on the two deep, but both have played in one of South Alabama’s first two games. I’m

Cool stat going into OU-Tulsa: The Sooners have missed 11 tackles this season. Not perfect. But a year ago, the Sooners missed 33 tackles in their first two games. A dramatic difference for a defense that drastically needs to improve this season.

Cool stat going into OSU-South Alabama: If the Cowboys win, it will be Mike Gundy’s 65th non-conference win. He already has more non-conference wins than any other Cowboy head coach had total wins. Pat Jones won 62 games as OSU coach.

Something to watch in Tulsa: OU hasn’t lost a non-conference road game since 2009 when it lost at Miami (Fla.) 21-20. The Sooners’ defensive coordinator that day? Current OU coach Brent Venables. Their offensive coordinator? Current Tulsa coach Kevin Wilson. (Did I mention my Sellout Crowd colleague Guerin Emig’s terrific story on Wilson’s new perspective?)

Something to watch in Stillwater: OSU is inducting six into its athletics hall of honor Friday night, so expect the inductees to be recognized during the game. Word is, Rickie Fowler can’t stay into Saturday, but Justin Blackmon is likely to be there.

If you go to Tulsa … : Parking might be a challenge. The game is sold out, and this is only the third sellout of H.A. Chapman Stadium since it was renovated in 2008. Plan accordingly.

If you go Stillwater … : Highway 51 is still under construction and narrowed to one lane each way. But with an extra lane opened heading toward Stillwater before the game, then flipped to give outbound traffic an extra lane after the game, traffic flow should be OK.

If you don’t go … : You’ll be missing the first nice day of the season. Temperatures were set on broil the first two weeks. Saturday, highs are supposed to be in the low 80s. Aaaaahhhh. 

If I could be in two places: Non-conference play hasn’t been great this season. Very few top-25 matchups. Not a lot of heavyweight prize fights. Lacking one of those this week, I’d love to be in Boulder. Colorado vs. Colorado State. First night game for Deion and Co. Bet the whole scene will be electric. (Pssst. I talked to a Buffs insider about the Coach Prime craze this week on the Jenni Carlson Show.)

Playing favorites: Jason White was on Bob Stoops’ show on Sellout Crowd earlier this week, and seeing the OU quarterback got me thinking — I want another Heisman candidate around here again soon. There’s a lot that’s wrong with the Heisman, and there’s a lot of work for reporters that comes with having a candidate. But having a player of that caliber who makes the watch lists and gets attention is so much fun. Even when the player doesn’t win, it’s grand when we get to watch someone like White every week.

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Jenni Carlson is a columnist with the Sellout Crowd network. Follow her on Twitter at @JenniCarlson_OK. Email [email protected].

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