Don’t overlook the Warhawks of Louisiana-Monroe (ULM); these guys from the Sun Belt know how to play with the big boys. Last season, ULM opened play at home against #8 Arkansas and upset the Razorbacks 34-31 in OT. They followed that up with 31-28 OT loss at Auburn and a 47-42 loss versus Baylor. Despite an 1-2 record, the Warhawks were averaging 34.7 ppg, 506.7 ypg and outgained their three opponents 1520-1344.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma football team finished horribly on the defensive side. In their final five regular season games, OU gave up 37.8 ppg and that doesn’t include the 41-13 Cotton Bowl loss to Texas A&M in which the OU gave up 633 total yards.
The Sooners also struggled against the run, giving up 192.2 ypg, just outside of Kansas’ 192.6 for worst in the conference.
ULM senior quarterback Kolton Browning, the Sun Belt preseason offensive player of the year, had a big game against Arkansas in 2012, going 42 of 67 for 412 yards, adding 69 yards on the ground and scoring four total touchdowns. He threw for a Sun Belt-high 29 touchdowns and 251.4 ypg last season, third in the conference.
The biggest concern for the Sooners’ offense is quarterback play. Freshman Trevor Knight was named starter, replacing Landry Jones. Knight beat out junior Blake Bell, who will still be a vital part of the gameplan. Bell has scored 24 career rushing touchdowns and will still be used in goal-line and short-yardage situations.
In addition to Jones, OU will be missing senior offensive tackle Jacob Reed. Reed was suspended Monday after he was charged for assaulting his ex-girlfriend and breaking into her apartment. The Sooners also lost offensive lineman Lane Johnson and receiver Kenny Stills to the NFL.
In their losses in 2012, the Sooners gave up 466 ypg, were outscored 95-45 and lost the turnover battle 5-1.
ULM is 2-16 against BCS schools since 2007. The Sooners are 18-3 against non-conference foes in that span.