Associated Press preseason poll No. 5 Oklahoma takes on Missouri State in Norman Saturday evening in its first and only non-conference game of the 2020 season.
Here's what The Daily's sports desk predicts:
Caleb McCourry, sports editor: Sooners 52, Bears 14
Naturally, I'm going with the Sooners to rack up points on the scoreboard against an FCS opponent, highlighted most recently by OU putting up 70 points on South Dakota in 2019.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler's debut as a starter will be full of highlights. I also expect big plays from junior running back T.J. Pledger and sophomore H-back Austin Stogner, and we'll get some first looks at some of the new faces OU has on its roster later in the game as well.
One big concern: team health. On Friday, the Springfield News-Leader’s Wyatt Wheeler reported that Missouri State President Clif Smart found out the Sooners were in "serious jeopardy" of not being able to play due to their testing results this week. I still think OU will run up the score, but we'll see who takes the field and who doesn't in tonight's game. The report also said all of the players from Missouri State who boarded a plane to travel to Norman tested negative. Regardless of who plays for the Sooners, this is still OU's game to get its first feel of the 2020 season.
Mason Young, assistant sports editor: Sooners 55, Bears 17
As OU head coach Lincoln Riley told reporters on Tuesday, a Bobby Petrino-coached team never goes down easily. However, there’s a significant talent gap between any FCS school and a perennial College Football Playoff contender.
I expect Sooner redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler to come out firing, putting points on the board with ease. I’ll place a bet for roughly 300 passing yards and four touchdown passes from Rattler on the evening. Expect redshirt sophomore Tanner Mordecai to take over for Rattler around the middle of the third quarter. We might even see true freshman Chandler Morris at some point in this contest thanks to the new eligibility waiver.
On defense, I’d wager the Sooners will snag at least two turnovers to satisfy Alex Grinch’s hunger. Senior defensive tackle LaRon Stokes should pose a big problem for Missouri State quarterback Jaden Johnson in the absence of redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jalen Redmond. This is a game OU could easily dominate on both sides of the ball.
Chandler Engelbrecht, senior sports reporter: Sooners 63, Bears 13
Even without COVID-19 precautions, Gaylord Memorial Stadium would’ve likely been at 25 percent capacity by the third quarter of this game anyway.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler will do nothing but impress in his first start for Oklahoma, though it may just last two quarters. I’d look for him to throw for well over 200 yards and at least three scores in whatever minutes he gets. Expect junior running back T.J. Pledger to also have a big performance behind an offensive line that’s thought to be one of the best in the country.
As for the other side of the ball, junior defensive lineman Perrion Winfrey will make the Sooners defense look good all night. Winfrey’s disruption of Missouri State redshirt freshman quarterback Jaden Johnson should allow the Sooners’ defense to pick up around three turnovers. I predict the only points that the Bears score against Alex Grinch’s defensive unit will come in garbage time.