After an embarrassing 40-6 loss in the 2014 Russell Athletic bowl, Bob Stoops' Oklahoma Sooners are looking get back to being the best of the Big XII. That journey starts with a game against Terry Bowden's Akron Zips. After two consecutive 5-7 seasons, Bowden realizes that it's time to make Akron a winner again. A win in Norman would be the biggest of the Bowden Ball era at Akron, and possibly one of the biggest upsets in MAC football history.
The 2015 Sooners will have a new look offense led by new offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, who spent five years in the same position at East Carolina. Riley's air raid offense will be led by transfer quarterback Baker Mayfield, who was previously at Texas Tech. Mayfield hasn't taken a snap since 2013, so don't be surprised if it takes the Sooners a few drives to get into the swing of thing. The downside to this new offensive philosophy is that running back Samaje Perine may get fewer carries. Perine set the single game rushing record with 427 yards in a game against Kansas last year.
The Zips will also look different from what they've looked like previously in the Bowden era. This offseason, it has been stressed that Akron needs to be better at running the ball, and the offense could look very different from the 2012-2014 offense. Defensively, there is confidence that the defense can, once again, be one of the best units in the MAC. Two first team All-MAC defenders, plus four Power Five transfers make this the best unit going into the season.
Quick Game Info
Game time, date: Saturday, September 5 at 7 p.m. EST, 6 p.m. CST
Location: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma
Online Streaming: $$$ Order the Pay-Per-View from SoonerSports.tv for $54.99 $$$
Radio: The game can be heard in Akron on 1350 WARF, which is available on iHeartRadio.
ODDS: Oklahoma -31.5
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield: Mayfield hasn't seen a snap since he was a walk-on at Texas Tech in 2013. It could take him time to get used to the air raid offense that Riley is using at Oklahoma.
Akron QB Kyle Pohl / Tra'Von Chapman: We won't know who it will be against the Sooners until game time. Pohl has played well in games against the Power Five conferences since he's been at Akron, and Tra'Von Chapman adds the running dynamic that Pohl doesn't have. Akron's hopes for a huge upset will be heavily impacted by quarterback play.
Akron WR Jerome Lane: Just a few weeks ago, safety/linebacker/defensive end Jerome Lane Jr. switched over to wide receiver. According to George Thomas of the Akron Beacon Journal, Lane has been impressive in his short time on offense. In fact, he's been good enough to take over as a starting receiver in the latest depth chart.
Oklahoma RB Samaje Perine: In just his freshman season, Perine rushed for 1,713 yards on 263 carries and 21 touchdowns. Oklahoma's new offense may not run the ball as much as last year, but when he does get touches Perine is the biggest game-changer on the field.