Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming matchup in our Oklahoma vs. UTEP Preview and Prediction.
Saturday, September 3, 2022; 2:30 p.m. CT; Oklahoma Memorial Stadium; Norman, Oklahoma
TV: FOX (Broadcast Crew TBA)
Records: Oklahoma 0-0; UTEP 0-1
Rankings: Oklahoma ranked No. 9 in Preseason AP Poll; UTEP unranked
Series History: Oklahoma leads 4-0
Last Meeting: Oklahoma 56, UTEP 7 (2017)
Favorite: Oklahoma (-31.5)
Fun Fact: This game will be the first of the Brent Venables era at Oklahoma, a place where he went 139-34 as an assistant and defensive coordinator under Bob Stoops from 1999-2011.
Dillon Gabriel, Quarterback
Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel will be reason enough to tune into this game as the Sooners’ quarterback will be surrounded by the best supporting cast he’s ever had and has already thrown for 8,037 yards and 70 touchdowns in just 26 career games. Expect an impressive performance from Gabriel in a loaded Oklahoma offense under new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby.
Billy Bowman, Safety
The biggest defensive concern for Oklahoma this season is undoubtedly the safety position. Uber-talented sophomore Billy Bowman steps into a starting role in 2022 and will play the strong safety position opposite Key Lawrence at the free safety. Depth and experience are both concerns, but if Bowman can live up to the hype we have heard out of fall camp, the Sooners should be just fine at the top of the depth chart at safety.
Gavin Hardison, Quarterback
Despite a loss against North Texas last weekend, UTEP quarterback Gavin Hardison made some impressive throws. His completion percentage of 43.8% shows his tendency to miss on some throws, but he connected on a couple of deep balls that left football fans wondering who this guy was. If he can tighten things up in Week 2 and get some help from his wideouts, Hardison could prove to a good test for the Oklahoma secondary.
Tyrice Knight, Linebacker
Tyrice Knight may have been part of a unit that gave up 31 points to North Texas on Saturday night, but it wasn’t because he didn’t do his part. The senior linebacker from Lakeland, Florida, recorded a team-high 11 tackles, including seven solo stops against the Mean Green. Knight will be busy this Saturday once again with an aggressive Sooners’ rushing attack that will test him time and time again with a heavy zone rushing scheme.
How dominant can Oklahoma be along the line of scrimmage? Last season, even against teams like Tulane and Kansas, the Sooners looked pedestrian along the offensive and defensive lines. This season, that will need to change, and there is good reason to believe that it will. After an intense offseason with S&C coach Jerry Schmidt, the big men have put on some significant muscle and look much more like the Oklahoma that everyone got used to seeing up front. Whether they can improve on a disappointing year in 2021 remains to be seen, but dominating a team like UTEP would be a good start.
Can UTEP keep things on the tracks and keep this game competitive? Going into halftime against North Texas, the Miners were down 14-13 but were shut out in the second half and lost 31-13. Oklahoma is favored by nearly five touchdowns in this game and should be able to cover that easily if UTEP plays the way that it did in Week 0.
Prediction: Oklahoma 55, UTEP 10
Oklahoma starts off the 2022 season with a decisive win as the Sooners put on a clinic both offensively and defensively against an over-matched opponent. While Dillon Gabriel is the name that everyone has their eye on coming into the game, Eric Gray and Marcus Major are what the buzz is all about after the game. A few mistakes lead to UTEP getting some points on the board, but overall Oklahoma is 1-0 and looks like a much tougher team than it did at this time in 2021.