No. 20 Oklahoma seeks strong start under second-year coach Brent Venables
Thu, Aug 31, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)
Arkansas State at No. 20 Oklahoma, Saturday, Noon EDT (ESPN).
Line: Oklahoma by 36 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Oklahoma leads 2-0.
WHAT'S AT STAKE?
Oklahoma opens its final season as a Big 12 member before leaving for the Southeastern Conference. The Sooners seek a strong start after finishing 6-7 last season under first-year coach Brent Venables. Oklahoma needs to make its biggest jump on defense. The Sooners ranked towards the bottom of the nation in points and yards allowed per game. Arkansas State is coming off a 3-9 season under Butch Jones and needs to at least see something positive on Saturday.
Oklahoma pass rush vs. Arkansas State offensive line. The Sooners had their moments rushing the passer last season, and the team has solid depth at defensive end. Ethan Downs, the Big 12's top returner in tackles for loss, anchors the group. Oklahoma State transfer Trace Ford and Wake Forest transfer Rondell Bothroyd provide depth. Arkansas State's offensive line returns just two starters in Mekhi Butler and Makilan Thomas.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Arkansas State: Former Tennessee and Colorado quarterback J.T. Shrout has earned the starting nod. Last season at Colorado, he played in nine games and passed for 1,220 yards and seven touchdowns. He came off the bench to throw the game-winning touchdown against California in overtime.
Oklahoma: QB Dillon Gabriel. Many Sooners fans are excited about five-star freshman Jackson Arnold, but the incumbent is pretty good. Gabriel has passed for 11,205 yards and 95 touchdowns in his career. He passed for 3,168 yards and 25 touchdowns last season. He also creates problems with his mobility - he ran for 317 yards and six scores a year ago.
FACTS & FIGURES
Oklahoma seeks its 100th season-opening win. ... The Red Wolves play a Big 12 foe for the first time since defeating Kansas State 35-31 on Sept. 12, 2020. ... Oklahoma is ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 for the 24th consecutive year. ... Gabriel was the Big 12's offensive Newcomer of the Year last season. ... Oklahoma beat Arkansas State in 1992 and 2000. ... Oklahoma LB Danny Stutsman led the Big 12 in tackles last season. ... Oklahoma TE Austin Stogner is back after spending last season at South Carolina.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll"