Big 12 Previews

Oklahoma vs. Arkansas State: Preview and Prediction

Here is everything you need to know ahead of the matchup between the Oklahoma Sooners and the Arkansas State Red Wolves.


Saturday, September 2; 11:00 a.m. (CT); Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium; Norman, Oklahoma


Radio: Sooner Sports Radio (Toby Rowland, Teddy Lehman, Gabe Ikard)

2022 Records: Oklahoma 6-7 (3-6 Big 12), Arkansas State 3-9 (1-7 SBC)

Rankings: Oklahoma No. 20 (AP), Arkansas State NR

Series History: Oklahoma leads series, 2-0

Last Meeting: Oklahoma 45, Arkansas State 7 (2000)

Spread: Oklahoma (-35.5)

Fun Fact: The last time these two teams met, in 2000, Oklahoma went on to win a national championship under second-year head coach, Bob Stoops. The Sooners took down Arkansas State 45-7 in Week 2, and went on to a perfect 13-0 season.




QB Dillon Gabriel

Dillon Gabriel was something of a lightning rod for Oklahoma fans last season, as he followed a long line of quarterbacks that have either won a Heisman or had Heisman-worthy seasons in nearly consecutive years. Gabriel wasn’t bad by any stretch last season, completing nearly 63% of his passes for 3,163 yards and 25 TDs to just three INTs, while adding 315 yards and six scores on the ground. In a game where the Sooners could light up the scoreboard, a lights-out performance from No. 8 could be the ticket to get things started off on the right foot in 2023.

LB Danny Stutsman

Danny Stutsman returns to lead the Sooners defense in 2023 after leading the Big 12 in tackles in 2022 with 126 stops. Add to that three sacks, 7.5 tackles for loss, five PBUs, and two INTs and you’d think he’d be a preseason all-conference selection this year, right? Nope. He didn’t make the list, and that wasn’t lost on his head coach, who’s mentioned Stutsman several times throughout the offseason as someone who’s made a leap. I expect a statement season from Stutsman in 2023, and that starts with a big game in the home opener.



QB JT Shrout

Arkansas State loses their 2022 starting quarterback, James Blackman, but picked up JT Shrout, who started seven games for Colorado last season. Shrout will be challenged with replacing Blackman’s 2,471 yards and 14 touchdowns (and just three INTs) from last season, and going into Norman for his first contest with the Red Wolves is less than ideal. However, the Sooners proved as one of the easiest teams in the country to throw on last season, so there’s a chance he could find success if the home team hasn’t made major improvements.

LB Melique Straker

As Arkansas State’s leading returning tackler (81), STAR LB Melique Straker will be expected to be a leader for their defense in 2023. Straker also leads all returners in tackles for loss (6.0) and sacks (2.0) from a season ago, so if the defense is going to have success in this game, it will likely be because of a Herculean effort from No. 21. Straker will be a key focus for the Oklahoma offensive line as well, both in passing situations and when running the ball.




How quickly can Oklahoma separate itself from their 6-7 debacle in 2022? All of the talk around Oklahoma this offseason is how they’re down heading into 2023 and why the Sooners shouldn’t be considered a Big 12 contender. Well, there’s only one way to change that narrative, and that’s go out and prove the doubters wrong. Sure, beating the brains out of Arkansas State won’t convince anyone that the Sooners have returned to form, but allowing the game to stay close or leave any doubt on the scoreboard, and the noise will just get louder. Dominating the day should be OU’s focus in this one.


When coming into a game as nearly a seven-touchdown underdog, there’s not much of a public expectation for that team to win the game. However, that doesn’t make this a pointless game for the Red Wolves. If Arkansas State is going to improve on its 3-9 record from a season ago, they’ll need a revamped defense and new quarterback to be the driving forces. In this game against Oklahoma, getting a stop on a key third down, or converting on a third-and-long to put Arkansas State in scoring position are things that they could take as wins on the road in a tough environment.

PREDICTION: Oklahoma 59, Arkansas State 10

Despite a lopsided matchup, this game feels important for Oklahoma. To set the record straight for the Sooners, Brent Venables, and the standard in Norman, Oklahoma needs to come out sharp and dominate on the field against a lesser opponent. With the level of focus and intensity that Venables has coached with this offseason, plus the major roster overhaul we have seen over the past several months, I feel that Oklahoma will be out to prove something this season, and their first chance comes against Arkansas State. I expect this game to be in hand at halftime, and for Oklahoma to not put their foot on the break either.

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