Louisiana-Monroe will bring its football team to Norman on Saturday to open the season, and don’t expect these Warhawks to be intimidated by the 80,000 or so crimson fans surrounding Owen Field. They played against a few well-known teams last year, and beat one of them.
The Warhawks stunned No. 8 Arkansas in last year’s season opener before about 53,000 at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock. The Warhawks, down 28-7 midway through the third quarter, scored three unanswered touchdowns to force overtime, where they triumphed with a TD after holding the Razorbacks to a field goal.
A week later, ULM went to Auburn and nearly beat the Tigers before a crowd of 85,214. The Warhawks scored a couple of unanswered fourth quarter TDs to force another overtime at 28-28. Auburn blocked ULM’s field goal and then popped one through the uprights to escape with a 31-28 victory.
A week after that, Baylor came to Monroe and barely beat the Warhawks, 47-42.
ULM went 7-2 the rest of the way and finished with its best season since it joined the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1994. The Warhawks got blown out by Ohio, 47-14, in the Independence Bowl, the first bowl appearance for ULM.
So, can the Warhawks fly out of Norman with an upset? It appears OU will not be clicking on all cylinders since two players (cornerback Cortez Johnson and tackle Chuka Ndulue) have been suspended for the first game, and if the offense can’t rev its engine behind a new quarterback, the Sooners will be in trouble.
Plus, OU has been known to struggle in many of Bob Stoops’ season openers.
OU didn’t beat the spread against North Carolina in 2001, Tulsa the next year and Bowling Green in ’04. The Sooners beat the spread against North Texas by half a point in 2003. TCU stunned the Sooners in 2005, OU barely beat Alabama-Birmingham the next year, lost to BYU in 2009, barely defeated Utah State in 2010, and looked unimpressive last year against Texas El Paso.