After a blowout loss to the Baylor Bears last season, no one gave the Oklahoma Sooners a chance to rebound and make a solid run at a BCS bowl. However, the Sooners did just that and they won the Sugar Bowl 45-31 over a very talented Alabama team that many thought should have played for the national title. Momentum is definitely on Oklahoma’s side.
Just a couple of years ago, the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs owned one of the most potent offenses in the nation and it looked like they could become one of college football’s Cinderella stories. However, with a new coach in place, the Bulldogs have fallen off a bit and are coming off a 4-8 season.
Oklahoma’s dual-threat quarterback, sophomore Trevor Knight, had the performance of his life against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl when he passed for 348 yards and four touchdowns. With five starts of experience, including a huge BCS win, under his belt, Knight will look to build on his epic performance and be the best quarterback since Sam Bradford. Knight will have Sterling Shepard as his main target as he’s the only returning starter at wide out. Shepard finished the 2013 season with 51 catches for 603 yards and seven scores. The running back position will be one to keep an eye on as Keith Ford is the starter as of right now, but don’t sleep on five-star recruit Joe Mixon who is considered the best since DeMarco Murray.
On the other side of things, Louisiana Tech returns seven starters on offense — which should be enough to help them improve from a nightmarish 2013 campaign. Ryan Higgins and Scotty Young both return at quarterback — each made six starts in 2013 — for the Bulldogs and it looks like Higgins will begin the season as the team’s starter. Neither made a significant splash last season as they attempted the third-most passes in the conference but still only averaged about 206 yards per game through the air. Seniors Sterling Griffin and Hunter Lee return to bring some relief to the passing game while LSU Tigers transfer Paul Turner could also make an impact. Junior Kenneth Dixon led the run game with 917 yards in just 10 games last season.
Defensively, the Bulldogs were a mediocre bunch in 2013. Louisiana Tech ranked 61st in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 26.3 points per game, while ranking 69th in total defense by allowing 408.3 yards per contest. Oklahoma, on the other hand, was an upper-tier unit last season, ranking 22nd in scoring defense as well as 20th in total defense.
Louisiana Tech will travel to Oklahoma to take on the Sooners at 7 p.m. EST on Saturday, Aug. 30. The game will be broadcasted local listings.
PREDICTION: Louisiana Tech 13, Oklahoma 34
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.