OU Sooners vs. UTEP Miners @ Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK

The Sooners of the University of Oklahoma started the season on the right foot this year, as they hit the ground running, and throwing, against the Miners of UTEP (University of Texas - El Paso).  The Sooners were competing in their first game without longtime head coach, Bob Stoops, as Stoops unexpectedly walked away from the program in the summer, handing over the reins to offensive-minded upstart, Lincoln Riley.  Riley was the heir apparent to Stoops, as the Sooners tried to lock down Riley to a longterm contract, but Stoops pulled the trigger and handed over a successful program with national title ambitions to his offensive coordinator.  Unlike last year's debacle against the University of Houston Cougars at NRG Stadium, a game against an overmatched opponent would be a good barometer for both Riley and his Sooners to gauge where they are as a team before taking on the Ohio State Buckeyes in Columbus the following week.  It also gave the Sooners an opportunity to break in a bunch of new faces on both sides of the ball. 
With senior quarterback Baker Mayfield in control of the Sooner offense for a third year, behind the nation's best offensive line, the Sooners were able to capitalize early and often agains the Miners. Despite no more Joe Mixon and Oklahoma's all-time leading rusher, Samaje Perine, the Sooners were able to move the ball on the ground with running back by committee.  Abdul Adams did get the start for the Sooners and a healthy mix of backs kept the running game fresh but no one back stood out from the pack, leaving a big question mark of who would step forward and takeover the massive hole left by Mixon and Perine.  The best news for these backs is that they are behind the best line in football and they have Mr. Reliable (and Mr. Can Simply Do Everything), Dimitri Flowers leading the way.
Also coming into this season, a huge question mark loomed over the wide receiver position and who would be able to fill Biletnikoff winner, Dede Westbrook's shoes.  Although it was only one game, it looks like tight end/receiver hybrid, Mark Andrews, would step up.  Andrews led all receivers with seven catches and 134 receiving yards, while Kentucky transfer Jeff Badet wasn't far behind with 91 yards on only four catches.  Andrews may have the best chemistry with Mayfield, but Badet looks like a true weapon who could easily fill Westrbrook's shoes with great acceleration and speed.  Badet also showed his focus and determination as he fought with a UTEP defender, having the ball pop up between them and catching it on his second attempt.
The defense played a solid game against UTEP, allowing only one touchdown early and completely shut down the Miners the remainder of the game.  While UTEP is not an offensive juggernaut, the Sooners held the Miners to less than 200 offensive yards, a far cry from last year's opener when the Cougars gashed OU for over 400 yards. The Sooner were also breaking in some new players and solidifying rotations before heading to Columbus, where they would be tested by a high-octane attack led by quarterback J.T. Barrett.
The Sooners are favored to win the Big 12, which again has a championship game that pins the two best teams in the league against each other, as there are no more North or South divisions.  With a new coach and a fired up group of Sooners, the sky is the limit for this team but an early test against the Buckeyes can set the tone for a memorable season or another setback.  Time will tell.

More photos from the game are below:

OU Sooners vs. UTEP Miners @ Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK OU Sooners vs. UTEP Miners @ Oklahoma Memorial Stadium, Norman, OK Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on September 04, 2017 Rating: 5
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