FAU and Oklahoma both enter the 2018 season with a ton of hype after each finished 2017 with a conference title and 10-plus wins. Both teams have the talent to reach a New Year’s Six bowl this year. A loss to open the season would be devastating. With Lincoln Riley and Lane Kiffin both perceived as terrific play-callers, we should see a lot of points in Norman.
Our friends at Crimson and Cream Machine join us to dig deeper into the matchup and answers some questions on whether this week’s upcoming game between the Owls and the Sooners will result in a lot of points.
Cyrus Smith: This time last year, Lincoln Riley was the new kid on the block. After guiding the Sooners to the College Football Playoff, the general perception appears to be that Riley will be the next great Sooners head coach. How do OU fans feel about the Lincoln Riley era after Year 1? Any concerns?
Crimson & Cream Machine: Fans also feel that he is the next great coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, and there are a few reasons for that. For starters, the guy just carries himself so well. He has this quiet confidence about him that just instills trust. Despite being 34 years old, no one questions his capability of leading a program of this size.
His age also serves as an advantage, as Oklahoma’s recruiting efforts have been fruitful since he took the reins. The guy doesn’t have any issue relating to young people. Additionally, he’s put together a great support staff, so he has it running like a well-oiled recruiting machine from top to bottom.
Finally, the guy is an offensive wunderkind. The majority of NFL franchises have tried to pick the guy’s brain this offseason, which tells you a lot. He’s also willing to take a lot of risks as a play-caller (still his responsibility), and that tends to endear someone to a fan base.
Cyrus Smith: What are expectations for the 2018 season?
Crimson & Cream Machine: I’m not expecting a national championship because I don’t think the defense is quite where it needs to be from a talent standpoint at this point. I also don’t fully trust Mike Stoops as a defensive coordinator. However, most of us are expecting another Big 12 title and another run at a College Football Playoff berth.
Baker Mayfield is gone, but OU could still be dominant without him. This is arguably the most QB-friendly offense in college football, which can sort of mask some of the shortcomings (no pun intended) that Kyler Murray -- generously listed at 5’10” -- may have. Also this defense should be better than it was a year ago.
Cyrus Smith: With Baker Mayfield now in the NFL, some believe that the Sooners could take some huge steps back offensively this season. Who should FAU fans be aware of on that side of the ball?
Crimson & Cream Machine: The first person is Murray, who will try to fill those big shoes for a season. He’s one of the fastest players on this team (which is saying something) and will undoubtedly give this offense a different look. At running back, Rodney Anderson is a dark horse Heisman candidate who probably shouldn’t be a dark horse. He’s an incredible athlete who can do it all, as is his backup, Trey Sermon.
At receiver, Marquise “Hollywood” Brown is a 4.3-4.35 guy who can make a big play at any moment. Then there’s CeeDee Lamb, who is more of a well-rounded target. Mark Andrews is gone, but sophomore Grant Calcaterra prevents there from being much of a drop-off in that regard. Finally, Oklahoma has an elite offensive line led by the likes of Bobby Evans and Ben Powers.
Cyrus Smith: Despite another shaky season as defensive coordinator, Mike Stoops is back as the DC. Which position unit concerns you the most on defense?
Crimson & Cream Machine: I’d say safety just because of the uncertainty. As I write this, a starter has still not been named at the free or strong safety positions. There’s potential there, but the guys are largely unproven.
Cyrus Smith: A few years ago OU opened the season against Houston and the game resulted in a surprise upset. Is there any sense of concern among the fan base that OU could lose to the Owls?
Crimson & Cream Machine: Oh yeah, a lot of people are concerned. Few are expecting OU to blow this team out – nor should they. I think a lot of us are expecting a barn-burner, and I don’t think any of us are looking forward to the amount of stress that would accompany it.
Cyrus Smith: What are you most confident about this game? Least confident?
Crimson & Cream Machine: I think OU will have a good amount of success on the ground, which I believe will put them over the top in this one. I’m far less confident in this defense’s ability to consistently get off the field on third down.
Cyrus Smith: What’s your prediction for the game?
Crimson & Cream Machine: I’m predicting a 45-31 win for Oklahoma, but the outcome will be in doubt at certain points.
Cyrus Smith: For the FAU fans that are heading to Norman, can you offer up any food recommendations and things to do in the city?
Crimson & Cream Machine: There are actually a ton of options, and that can partially be attributed to the fact that a lot of the fans will likely be staying in Oklahoma City. I created this list for Ohio State fans a few years ago, but there are a few amendments that need to be made. First of all, the tailgating on Lindsey Street is gone because our past president found it prudent to build luxury student housing (currently at 28 percent capacity) in that spot. Also, OKC is constantly evolving, so plenty of quality spots have popped up, including Hall’s Pizza Kitchen, Nonesuch (named America’s best new restaurant by Bon Appétit) and Jones Assembly.
As far as Norman is concerned, Ryan Broyles has opened The Porch on Campus Corner, and I’ve heard good things about the upstairs patio. Finally, that archaic 3.2% percent ABV thing for domestics is still in effect, but only until Oct. 1. So I’d still tell you not to drink domestics if you’re usually into that kind of thing. Also, I would still avoid bringing up Kevin Durant.