By Arnie Leshin
If you are checking the Saturday college football odds for this weekend, don’t look for the University of Oklahoma. The 4th ranked Sooners open at home, expect the usual packed house at Owens Field, but they will play on Sunday, with the University of Houston paying a visit.
It’s unusual, Oklahoma almost always takes the field on Saturday, but because Labor Day falls on Monday, it became a Sunday contest.
No quarterback Baker Mayfield, no quarterback Kylee Murray, the dynamic duo who back-to-back carried off the prized Heisman Trophy, and were
back-to-back the No.1 overall picks in the college draft.
Those two were transfers, and so is the new starting quarterback, Jalen Hurts, who led Alabama to an SEC title and two appearances in the college football playoffs. In 2016, he was the SEC Freshman of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year. But after being benched at halftime of the 2018 national championship game, he lost his starting job to Tua Tagovailoa, then a freshman.
Rather than ride the bench again for the 2019 season, Hurts opted to transfer, and has joined the program that breeds success and has turned out the likes of signal-callers Sam Bradford, Landry Jones, Mayfield and Murray in recent years, and many more before that.
Hurts goes 6-foot-2, a shade taller than Mayfield and Murray, and weighs in at about 215 pounds. He has a strong arm, excellent leadership ability, but does not possess Murray’s speed, breakaways, and his strength is not in the option. But he’s smart, is accurate, and can go deep.
And the Sooners have adopted to him. He has gotten their respect, works hard in practice, is one of the team captains, and is all business.
Sunday, he will get his chance at showing off his skills and leadership against Houston, which has been a quality program in recent years.
The other team captains are all seniors, offensive lineman R.J. Proctor, wide receiver A.D. Miller, defensive lineman Dillon Faamatao.
The key running backs are sophomores, Kennedy Brooks, Michael Anderson and Isaiah Harris. Miller is a good receiver, but 6-2, 190 pound Cee Dee Lamb is the main go-to man. The key tight end target is 6-6, 260 freshman Austin Slogner.
On defense, head coach Lincoln Riley and his staff expect a lot from 6-5, 270 freshman lineman Marcus Hicks. There’s also 6-3, 230 sophomore linebacker Nick Bonitto, was a high school All-America at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale. He was heavily recruited from the school of the Oklahoma director of athletics.
If the team dresses all 105 players, there are 43 sophomores, 27 freshmen, 23 juniors, and an even dozen seniors.
All Boomer Sooners who can spell O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A.
One more thing, this game will have all the college football viewers as Labor Day nears.