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Oklahoma Game Preview
Posted: Thursday, September 11th, 2014, 7:29 PM
by Josh
Personally this is a game I've been wanting to see for a very long time. When this game was announced back in 2005 I was very excited. You see, I am someone that really loves and appreciates the historical aspect of college football. When I first started getting into football in the early 1990s, Oklahoma was one of those schools I read about that had great history and tradition. They were down at the time, much like Tennessee has been the past several years. They were coming off of a very successful run, just as Tennessee did before this downturn. Oklahoma has been one of the teams I somewhat follow nationally since Bob Stoops got there. I always wanted him to beat Texas every year. Tony Basilio is great at what he does. He is by far the best radio personality in Knoxville and it's not even close. And I'm not just saying that because I blog on his site. I have listened to him since the 2001 season but he is wrong about buying out of this game in my opinion. I will attempt to explain why and I hope that I can do it justice. Bear with me.

In many ways, Tennessee and Oklahoma are very similar. When Tennessee has been at its best it has went into the state of Georgia and got great talent out of there. When Oklahoma has been great, it has gone into Texas and gotten great talent out of there. Neither state has historically been talent rich, although they have both produced quite a few great players. To the south of both Tennessee and Oklahoma lie states that are supposed to have all of the advantages of great instate talent and supposedly and easier path to championships in Georgia and Texas respectively. Texas and Georgia have historically been the 2 most overrated programs in the entire country while the states to their north have enjoyed more success on the football field. Oklahoma claims 7 national championships compared to 4 claimed by Texas. Tennessee claims 6 national championships compared to 2 claimed by Georgia. Oklahoma has had 75 consensus All-Americans compared to 53 by Texas. Tennessee has had 38 consensus All-Americans compared to 24 by Georgia. Oklahoma claims 44 conference titles to 32 by Texas. Tennessee claims 16 conference titles to 14 by Georgia. Oklahoma has a (.720) winning percentage all time compared to (.715) by Texas. Tennessee has a (.682) winning percentage all time compared to (.647) by Georgia. So for all of the hype for Texas and Georgia, the schools to the north of them have had more success. Also, Oklahoma is 6th all time with 844 wins while Tennessee is 8th all time with 806 wins. Tennessee was actually ahead of Oklahoma in all time wins until the early 2000's.

So for all of the reasons I just stated, it is a great thing that Tennessee didn't buy out of this game. Not to mention the fact that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Tennessee fans to be able to see the Vols play in one of college footballs most hallowed venues in Norman. And then next year we get to see one of the all time great programs play in our Neyland Stadium. And vice versa for the Oklahoma fans that appreciate tradition and history. This is a rare and precious event that may never happen again.

Tennessee and Oklahoma have met twice previously. Tennessee capped off an 11-0 national championship 1938 by beating previously unbeaten Oklahoma 17-0 in the 1939 Orange Bowl. This was Tennessee's 8th shutout win of the season. In the 1968 Orange Bowl, Tennessee and Oklahoma met once again. Already crowned national champions in 1967 by Litkenhouse, Tennessee lost a thrilling game to the Sooners 26-24. It is important to note that in those days, bowl games were considered a reward and didn't count towards the national championship.

So there is the historical perspective. Now for just a little background on the Bob Stoops era before I get to this year's game. Stoops is 88-5 in Norman during his tenure. I will quickly go through the losses. In 2001 Stoops was defeated in Bedlam by a 4-7 Oklahoma State team led by Les Miles in his first year with the Cowboys. The score was 16-13. His second home loss came in 2005 in the season opener to Gary Patterson's TCU team that would go on to an 11-1 record. The score was 17-10. Oklahoma wouldn't lose another home game until 2011. In his 2nd year at Texas Tech, Tommy Tubberville came into Norman and won 41-38. Oklahoma lost 2 home games for the first time in the Bob Stoops era in 2012. First a very good Kansas State team beat them 24-19 on their way to an 11-2 record. Then a Notre Dame team that would play for the national championship came into Norman and gave Oklahoma their worst home loss of the Stoops era 30-13.

If there is any hope for Tennessee from an historic perspective, it's that 3 of Oklahoma's 5 home losses have came since 2011. The Sooners are 13-3 in their past 16 home games, which is still very good.

As for what will happen Saturday night, pulling the upset would be a huge challenge for Tennessee. The offensive line has looked really bad at times. Other times they have held their own, but against much weaker competition than they will face Saturday. In just about every other area, Tennessee is vastly improved from last year and I think they can hold their own against just about anyone. The defense has been a lot better than I thought they would have. They did give up some yards to Arkansas State, but they didn't play with the same intensity as they did against Utah State. I think the short week with the early kickoff had a lot to do with it. I think they will be ready to go against the Sooners. The offense struggled at times against Arkansas State but again, it was a short week with an early kickoff and two valuable players went down with injury. Getting Ethan Wolf back for this game is huge because if Tennessee wants to make a game of it, they will need really good tight end play. They will need to play well at every position but it's good to have such a talented player available to you.

Tennessee's offense will have to create a running threat to be competitive in this game. They will also need to be able to hit on a deep pass or two, which they haven't done to this point. I think the short pass game will continue to be Tennessee's bread and butter but you have to be more varied against a team like Oklahoma.

Defensively I think Tennessee can hang with the Sooners. I think they will keep Tennessee in the game, at least until deep in the 3rd quarter. I will be interested to see how the Vols try to slow down Oklahoma's running game, as well as how well the secondary will fare against OU's receivers. I think at the end of the game, when we are looking for positive signs, we will find them in the effort of the defense.

Tennessee will have a lot of players making their first road trip. This won't be an easy task. Winning in Norman isn't impossible. It's just highly unlikely. If the game was in Knoxville I would give the Vols a much better chance. I do think Tennessee will make its fans proud though and I think they will leave it all on the field. In the end, they just aren't quite ready to win a game like this.

Oklahoma 28
Tennessee 17

In other games....

South Carolina 27
Georgia 23

Florida 35
Kentucky 24

Arkansas 31
Texas Tech 30

Texas 17

Louisville 38
Virginia 21

That's all I have for now. As always, I appreciate all of you that took the time to read this. For those who want, you can follow me on Twitter @Joshes_Blog

Have a great and safe football weekend. Go Vols and God Bless!

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