Just Like Old Times

By Adam Caparell - September 07, 2007

Oklahoma and Miami haven't played each other in 20 years, but that all changes Saturday when two of the top programs in college football, who just happen to be in very different positions this season, meet in Norman.

The Sooners, winners of seven national championships, are a Top 10 team with legitimate national championship hopes while Miami, winners of five national championships, are on the outside looking in of the Top 25 and trying to rebuild its offense under new coach Randy Shannon.

But that doesn't mean the Cane's aren't dangerous, far from it in fact thanks to their perennially stout defense.

"The defensive front is one of the better ones in college football," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said of Miami. "It is early in the season, but watching them last week and watching them play last year, they have excellent personnel all across the front four."

The Hurricanes, led up front by Calais Campbell, allowed just 1.6 yards per carry against Marshall, but it'd be quite a feat if they repeated that performance Saturday considering the Sooners running attack features three game breaking backs.

"There's a reason that Oklahoma is ranked high," Shannon said. "They have a big defensive line, a big offensive line and they play great offense. It will be a challenge for us to go out there, because we are playing a great defense."

And Miami had a few issues offensively last week only compounding Shannon's concern - none more so than quarterback where Kirby Freeman's play left a lot to be desired. So with that in mind, Shannon knows his Canes are going to have to run the ball effectively to have a shot.

"We were able to rush the ball for 260 yards (last week) and that is something that we are going to continuously try to do," Shannon said. "If we can go into Oklahoma and rush the ball for 260 yards, we will win the game."

Miami's not going to run for 260 yards against Oklahoma. The Sooners only allowed 15 yards against North Texas last week. Granted, that was North Texas, but the Sooners have the personnel to lockdown the Canes.

This isn't No. 1 vs. No. 2 like we saw in the 80s a few times - far from it - but it should be interesting to see Shannon's first big litmus test as the Canes coach.

Weekly Picks

Last Week: 5-0 | Season: 5-0

Oklahoma (-10.5) over Miami
Defensively it's a great matchup. But offensively, the Hurricanes struggled to move the ball through the air last week and Kirby Freeman needs to have a better game than the 50 some odd yards he threw for vs. Marshall because if he can't, the Sooners are just going to stack the box and stifle the Canes running game that looked pretty solid last week. One of the great individual matchups of the weekend can be found in this one: Miami DE Calais Campbell vs. Oklahoma LT Phil Loadholt - two 6-foot-8 monsters

Nebraska (-8) over Wake Forest
Nebraska ran the ball like crazy last weekend. There's a feeling that the Cornhuskers could be airing it out this weekend against the Demon Deacons who were torched by Boston College and Matt Ryan in Week 1. Wake is inserting Brett Hodges as the de facto starter with Riley Skinner out, so that bears watching. They absolutely have to run the ball to have any shot at beating Nebraska. I think the Cornhuskers win, but I could see them getting picked off because you have to think they have USC in the back of their minds with the Trojans next on the schedule.

Michigan (-8) over Oregon
Oregon is a very dangerous team for the Wolverines for the simple fact that they so closely resemble Appalachian State. Dennis Dixon is an option quarterback, running a spread attack, that gave Michigan fits last weekend in the upset of the century. We'll say the Wolverines have more heart and pride not to let themselves drop a second straight game in Ann Arbor. But it's very easy to see Michigan losing. Very easy.

Texas (-9) over TCU
TCU has an aggressive defense and Texas looked absolutely awful last weekend. The running game was less than spectacular and Colt McCoy turned the ball over as they barely beat Arkansas State. The Horned Frogs have the talent and the speed to stand up to the Longhorns. It'll depend on whether the combo of Andy Dalton and Aaron Brown can move TCU's offense. They need to have big games. A contribution from Tommy Blake will be needed as well, but who knows how much they'll get out of him. Horned Frogs lose, but cover.

LSU (-12.5) over Virginia Tech
High spread for the Tigers, but it's well deserved after Virginia Tech looked so bad offensively, especially the offensive line which was pushed around by East Carolina. Now they face the Tigers who are a much, much better defense than the Pirates and if the Hokies can't get their running game established then they have absolutely no shot. I say they don't and lose in what will be a relatively low scoring game (the O/U is 38, go with the Under). For more on the game, check out the Bleacher Bloggers.

Posted by Adam Caparell at 04:08 PM on September 07, 2007

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