Did anyone finish the 2014 season stronger than Oklahoma? Well, maybe Florida State, but out of the teams that didn't win the national title the Sooners sure made the loudest splash. After big losses to Texas and Baylor seemingly brought Oklahoma back to earth, the Sooners finished with multiple-score wins over Kansas State (41-31), Oklahoma State (33-24) and Alabama (45-31), with the former two on the road and the latter against Alabama. That strong finish has led to plenty of preseason hype -- much of it deserved, but much of it still left to be shown on the field.
If Louisiana Tech is anything like last year's squad, we probably won't learn much about the Sooners in Week 1. Skip Holtz's first year went miserably, taking a team that went 9-3 and with one of the nation's top offenses and going 4-8. The Bulldogs have been consistently inconsistent, though, and the radical change from Air Raid master Sonny Dykes to Holtz was always going to bring some growing pains.
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Full bowl and Playoff projections for this season
College football's first season with a championship tournament at its highest level is just about here. Here's everything you *need* to know, including the best bets to play in each bowl game.
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How to witness
TV: 7 p.m. ET, PPV. Ron Thulin, Dave Lapham and Chad McKee will be on the call.
Online streaming: Viewers outside of the state of Oklahoma can order the game here.
Rankings and records: Oklahoma is ranked No. 3 in the Coaches Poll and No. 4 in the AP Poll, receiving three first-place votes in the former and one in the latter. Louisiana Tech is not ranked. This is the first game of the season for both teams.
Vegas: Oklahoma is a 38-point favorite, with an over/under of 52.
Weather forecast: 70 degrees, mostly clear.
Three names to know
Trevor Knight, QB, Oklahoma. Perhaps the biggest positive sign (of many) in the Sooners' thrashing of Alabama was Knight's performance against the vaunted Tide defense. He completed 32 of his 44 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns, and could set a potential Heisman candidacy in motion with a similarly strong performance against a sometimes suspect Tech secondary.
Eric Striker, LB, Oklahoma. The Sooners can stake a legitimate claim to having the best linebacking corps in the nation, and it all starts with the junior on the outside. More than 20 percent of Striker's tackles last season went for a loss (10½ out of 50), with 6½ sacks, three passes broken up and a fumble forced.
Kenneth Dixon, RB, Louisiana Tech. Last season, the Bulldogs used a pass-first offense but couldn't pass very well. What they did do well was hand the ball off to Dixon, who averaged 6.1 yards on 151 carries, and Tevin King (5.8 yards on 93 carries).
Two things at stake
Oklahoma finished strong in 2013, but questions remain about their viability as a national contender. Blowing out a weak Bulldogs team would be their first chance to show it.
Conference-USA is not the Big 12, but there are plenty of teams more proven than Louisiana Tech. A strong performance against the Sooners could set them on the right track to bowl eligibility.