BYU vs. Oklahoma: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction

Nov 17, 2023, 1:39 PM

PROVO, Utah – BYU vs Oklahoma will be squaring off for the first time as Big 12 foes. It’s the third meeting all-time between the two programs and BYU holds a 2-0 record against the Sooners.

BYU comes into the game on a three-game losing streak at 5-5 overall and 2-5 in Big 12 play. The Sooners remain in the thick of the Big 12 Championship Game race with an 8-2 record, 5-2 in the league.

BYU vs No. 14 Oklahoma

Location: LaVell Edwards Stadium

Kickoff: 10 a.m. (MT)


Radio: KSL NewsRadio (102.7 FM, 1160 AM)

It’s time for the 3-2-1 game preview for BYU’s week 12 matchup against the Oklahoma Sooners.

Three Game Day Thoughts

1. “The milk has been spilled” on BYU

BYU defensive end and captain Tyler Batty probably put it best during his weekly interview with KSL Sports, “the milk has already been spilled” regarding BYU’s season. No one expected BYU to get thumped the way they have in the last three games, losing by nearly 30 points per game.

So, at this point, as a three-plus touchdown underdog to nationally-ranked Oklahoma, go out and play with a mindset of nothing to lose. If you get blown out, everyone expected it. Show some fight and make Oklahoma work for a full 60 minutes? That could be viewed as progress.

2. BYU should go with Jake Retzlaff at quarterback

That’s one of the big storylines for BYU/Oklahoma: which direction the Cougars go at quarterback. BYU offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick said they won’t start Kedon Slovis unless he’s 100% healthy. Roderick later noted that Slovis is practicing, but he’s not 100%.

If that’s the case, go with Jake Retzlaff.

Retzlaff struggled mightily against Iowa State. But he showed an ability to run the ball. Roderick is quick to note there probably hasn’t been a more challenging two-game stretch for a BYU quarterback to make his D1 debut. That’s fair.

Retzlaff showed quick-decision making through the air two weeks ago in the loss to West Virginia.

If he has any amount of success against Oklahoma –regardless of outcome– it could be a real confidence boost for Retzlaff and the team moving forward to next week and in 2024.

For Slovis, the BYU offensive line is what it is. He took numerous hits against Texas earlier this season. The team that took down Texas is now lining up against BYU this week. Does BYU want to risk Slovis hurting his opportunities for any NFL future? It’s a thought that Aaron Roderick has pondered. They don’t want to risk hurting Slovis more than the hits he has already taken this season.

So when you size it up, roll with Retzlaff this week.

3. First game with two healthy running backs

For the first time this season, BYU will have a healthy Aidan Robbins and LJ Martin together in the backfield. Last week, the ground attack showed promise, rushing for over 180 yards.

When Martin took off to begin the season, Robbins was dealing with a rib injury. Then, when Robbins returned, Martin was sidelined with an injury he suffered against Texas Tech.

If BYU wants to keep Oklahoma’s high-powered offense off the field, they need Robbins and Martin to be able to move the sticks on the ground to eat up the clock. Saturday will be the best opportunity for that, as both are healthy and ready to go.

Two BYU vs Oklahoma Questions

1. Will BYU generate any takeaways?

Entering November, BYU was in the top five nationally in turnover margin. After two losses to West Virginia and Iowa State, BYU’s turnover margin is now tied for 31st in the nation. It’s plummeted because of their mistakes, but no takeaways from the defense.

If they make Oklahoma play for a full 60 minutes, they need to generate at least three or four takeaways in this game. BYU’s secondary, led by Eddie Heckard and Jakob Robinson, has to find ways to pick off OU quarterback Dillon Gabriel, plus contain wide receivers Drake Stoops and Jalil Farooq.

Up front, BYU defensive end Tyler Batty, the Cougars leader in sacks, needs to have his best game. He will go up against OU’s veteran tackle Walter Rouse, a tall order for a BYU defense that has only forced nine sacks this season.

2. How many Oklahoma fans will be in attendance?

I’m curious to see how big of a gathering Sooner fans have inside LaVell Edwards Stadium. It’s the first and perhaps only time Oklahoma will ever play in the state of Utah. So it’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of game for the Oklahoma faithful.

There’s an expected large gathering of OU fans in Salt Lake City on Friday night at Poplar Street Bar to get ready for the early wakeup call on Saturday.

Plus, BYU fans are feeling down and out. How many decided to throw their tickets on the secondary market and sell to Oklahoma faithful?

It will be interesting to see.

Typically, BYU is the one who goes on the road and turns heads for its large gathering of fans. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the largest collection of road fans inside LES since Wisconsin in 2017 or when No. 1 USC rolled into Provo in 2004.

One Score Prediction for BYU vs Oklahoma

This is one of those rare BYU games where there isn’t an area where the Cougars have an advantage over the opponent. It’s tough times in Provo. But all that could be forgotten with a Big 12 win over Oklahoma.

The problem is Oklahoma is coming into this game motivated as they still have the Big 12 Championship Game in their sights, even with the confusing Big 12 tiebreaker rules. BYU shows some fight in the first half.

Oklahoma will keep it basic early to see if BYU can stop their vanilla play calling, then the Sooners will turn it up and pull away from BYU.

Oklahoma 38, BYU 10

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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BYU vs. Oklahoma: Game Day Preview Plus Score Prediction