Photo by Michael Kinney
By Michael Kinney
The wait is over for the Oklahoma football team. With fall camp behind them, the Sooners have now turned their sights toward their season opener which will take place Sunday when they host Houston at Gaylor Stadium.
It will be the first time in Oklahoma’s history that they will play a Sunday night game. For Lincoln Riley, the chance to make history seems to be as good of a reason to do anything.
“It was a decision that Joe Castiglione and I looked at and it made sense,” Riley said. “It was totally our choice. It was either going to be an 11 a.m. Saturday kick or a night kickoff with the eyes of the nation on us.”
Game time is set for 6:30 p.m.
The opportunity to have the entire college football landscape all to themselves wasn’t lost on the players as well. Despite playing big regular-season games and making it to the college football playoffs three out of the past four seasons, the Sooners still get excited about a unique season opener.
“I’ve never played a game on Sunday night,” OU tight end Grant Calcaterra said. “It will be different, approaching that game, going through this week. I’m excited. I love playing at night. Sunday night is like a primetime game for football, obviously when the NFL plays. The whole team is excited. So we’re all really looking forward to it.”
Despite the fact that OU lost its starting quarterback, four starting offensive linemen, a No. 1 receiver and changed defensive coordinators, they will enter the game with a preseason ranking of No. 4 in both national polls.
Oklahoma still has the expectations of reaching the playoffs for a third straight year and have taken steps to go even further.
“Our goal every year is to make the college football championship and win it,” OU center Creed Humphrey said. “We have had to do some sort of adjustments this offseason to get to that next step. And I feel like we have done a big part of that.”
Part of that may be having a quarterback under center who has not only played in a title game, but won the championship. Graduate transfer Jalen Hurts was named the starter last week and he brings with him a wealth of experience, leadership and intangibles.
However, there are many who do not believe Hurts has the arm talent to play effectively in a Lincoln Riley Offense.
When Hurts was asked how much he has improved passing the ball since he arrived in Norman, he had a simple answer.
“We will see Sept. 1.”
For those coming to Sunday’s season opener, Oklahoma has attempted to make the experience more fan-friendly. That includes bringing WI-FI to Gaylord Stadium so for the first time, fans will be able to access the internet via Wi-Fi during home football games.
“This is an exciting upgrade for our stadium and one that we’ve had on the drawing board for several years,” said Joe Castiglione, vice president and director of athletics at OU. “We are rolling it out at an optimum time as we have been able to secure the latest technology, which will make this system viable for several years.”
Like many of the top college football programs in the nation, Oklahoma has strived to improve the game-day experience.
“Fan experience is a high priority for us,” Castiglione said. “The on-field performance and pageantry of OU football are the best in the nation. Now, we are adding other pieces to the fan experience that make a trip to our stadium even more special and convenient.
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider