OU football 2011 opponent breakdown: Tulsa Golden Hurricane
The 2011 college football season is still weeks away, but excitement surrounding Norman is nearly overflowing.
And while the Sooners have their eyes on winning the university's eighth national title, there are 12 games that must be played before the preseason No. 1 team can earn its place in the BCS national championship game in New Orleans.
Leading up to the first day of classes, The Daily will publish a breakdown of each opponent OU will face this year.
Up first: Tulsa
SEPT. 3 IN NORMAN
(Previous meeting: W, 45-0, in 2009)
The Sooners kick off 2011 with an in-state rivalry, albeit a less-than-competitive one.
However, Tulsa enters this season with one of the nation's best offenses, ranking in the top 15 nationally in rushing and passing. The team is led by quarterback G.J. Kinne and wide receiver Damaris Johnson.
New Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship recently made headlines when he proclaimed Kinne as the best college quarterback in the state of Oklahoma. That comment might rile up OU and Oklahoma State fans, but to be fair, the reigning Conference USA offensive player of the year is coming off a season where he amassed statistics equal to or better than OU's Landry Jones and OSU's Brandon Weeden.
But as good as the Golden Hurricane is on offense, the other side of the ball will hold this team back.
Heading into 2011, Tulsa is searching at depth at defensive tackle after new coordinator Brent Guy switched the base defense from a three-man front to a four-man front. Guy has indicated that he may experiment with moving a couple ends into the interior, saying his goal is to get the best linemen on the field regardless of position.
Although Tulsa led the nation with 24 interceptions last season, it also was the nation's worst pass defense (319 yards per game). And the total defense wasn't much better. Tulsa was 111th (out of 120 teams) in the country, allowing 450.85 yards per game.
Defensive figures like this must have Josh Heupel eager to start his first full season as OU's new offensive coordinator.
Eight starters are back for Tulsa, so expect the defense to progress — but not enough to slow down the Sooners. The Golden Hurricane will be a contender in C-USA, but Norman won't be a kind start to Tulsa's season.
Prediction: W, 49-13
Confidence: 95 percent
Returning starters: 10 offense, eight defense
Golden Hurricane to know: QB G.J. Kinne, WR Damaris Johnson, LB Curnelius Arnick
Prediction, too: Landry Jones throws a touchdown pass to four different receivers