September 3, 2011 – By Scott
As the top ranked Oklahoma Sooners begin their 2011 season, trips to BCS bowl games are something that is expected at the end of the regular seasons. Since arriving at Oklahoma in 1999, Bob Stoops has led the Sooners to eight BCS appearances and they have been in the national title game on four occasions, losing three but winning it all in 2001.
But getting the season started on a high note has been a struggle for Oklahoma the past few years in their opening games. Two years ago, they fell 14-13 to BYU and last year against Utah State in their opener, the Soooners eked out a 31-24 win. With hopes of returning to the national title game again this year, they begin their season with a tough test against Tulsa.
One thing that bodes well for Oklahoma is they return Landry Jones at quarterback and his top receiver Ryan Broyles. Jones, who is considered one of the top favorites to win the Heisman this season, is coming off a year where he passed for 4,718 yards and 38 touchdowns. As for Broyles, he has 35 touchdown receptions in his career to accompany 3,429 yards receiving.
Defensively for the Sooners, they return seven starters from their 12-2 season last year. However, they will be without two key players at linebacker against Tulsa. Austin Box died back in May and Travis Lewis is sidelined with a broken bone in his foot.
It will be key for the Sooners to be focused Saturday and not look toward their September 17 matchup with Florida State in Tallahassee. That game could have national title implications riding on it, but Oklahoma first must take care of business against Tulsa.
The Golden Hurricane enter their 2011 campaign winning their final seven games in 2010. That winning streak gave Tulsa their third 10-win season in four years.
Tulsa will bring a high octane offense against a mildly depleted Sooner defense which is led by quarterback G.J. Kinne. Kinne threw for 3,650 yards and 31 touchdowns last season but he will be without leading receiver Damaris Johnson who has been suspended from the team after he was charged with one count of felony embezzlement on Thursday.
Oklahoma is riding a 36-game home winning streak as they face Tulsa Saturday night. The Sooners have not lost to Tulsa since 1996 and College Football Sportsbooks have Oklahoma as 25 1/2-point favorites on Saturday.