No. 16 Oklahoma faces improved Tulsa squad
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma has rolled past Tulsa by an average of 38 points in their past eight meetings.
This Tulsa team looks different. With former Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery running the show, the Golden Hurricane (2-0) have already matched last year's win total. They look to take a giant leap forward on Saturday when they face the 16th-ranked Sooners (2-0) at Memorial Stadium.
Mongomery's Baylor offenses led the nation in total offense and scoring offense the past two years. He's getting similar results already at Tulsa - the Golden Hurricane have averaged 609 yards in their first two games, wins over Florida Atlantic and New Mexico.
''I think those guys, they're gaining confidence as we're going through,'' Montgomery said. ''And I think that's one of the biggest keys. I think the belief part of it's there. I think we're continuing to gain confidence, and we've got to continue to take steps.''
Tulsa quarterback Dane Evans ranks fourth nationally with 372.5 yards per game and leads the nation with more than 20 yards per completion.
The Golden Hurricane also average 236.5 yards rushing.
''No question, they'll wear you out running the football if you try and get extravagant in your coverage,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said.
Oklahoma, led by linebacker Eric Striker, rank 10th nationally in total defense. Tulsa also must deal with the crowd in Norman.
''You know, when you talk about going to different venues, this is one you like to go to because it is going to be exciting, and it'll be loud, and it'll be a great opportunity for our guys to go and have an opportunity to prove themselves,'' Montgomery said.
Here are some things to watch on Saturday:
SOONER STARTS: Oklahoma has struggled early in both of its games. The Sooners didn't score their first touchdown against Akron until 5:32 remained in the first half, and until 8:20 remained in the fourth quarter against Tennessee. Oklahoma has scored 20 points in the first half and 52 after halftime this season.
TWO-HEADED MONSTERS: Both teams feature a pair of talented backs. Oklahoma's Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon are off to solid starts for the Sooners, even though they haven't been superstars behind their young, improving offensive line. Perine has one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown, and Mixon had 115 yards receiving in his Oklahoma debut against Akron. The Golden Hurricane counter with Zack Langer and D'Angelo Brewer. Langer has rushed for 234 yards while Brewer has churned out 225.
STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH: Tulsa will test the Sooners with Keyarris Garrett and Keevan Lucas, who rank sixth and seventh nationally in yards receiving per game. Oklahoma is sixth nationally, allowing just 106 yards passing per contest. Cornerback Zack Sanchez pulled in a game-clinching interception last week against Tennessee, the ninth pick of his career.
STERLING SHEPARD: Oklahoma's top receiver has torched the Golden Hurricane the past two years. He caught eight passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns in 2013, then had eight catches for 177 yards and another score last year.
BROTHERS BATTLE: Oklahoma linebacker Dominique Alexander and Tulsa defensive end Derrick Alexander, are brothers. Dominique, a junior, leads Oklahoma with 19 tackles and is tied for the team lead with three tackles for loss. Derrick, a senior, has a sack and five tackles this season.
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