On what will be a massive opening weekend of college football, the premiere game kicking off at noon Eastern Time will feature the No. 3 Oklahoma Sooners facing off against the No. 15 Houston Cougars. The game, which will feature two early season Heisman front-runners in quarterbacks Baker Mayfield and Greg Ward, Jr., has now been announced as a sell-out:
Oklahoma-Houston officially a sellout now.
— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) August 31, 2016
With the current state of college football, nearly every week has a must-win feel for teams with hopes of making the College Football Playoff. The Sooners made it to that stage last season, but lost to the eventual national runner-up in the Clemson Tigers in the semifinal-round. Now, Oklahoma is double-digit favorites on the road against a team that lost only once last season and it came in the absence of Ward, Jr.
If the Cougars are to crash the College Football Playoff, the team will need to beat Oklahoma, no questions asked. With a possible Big 12 expansion bid looming for the Cougars, the Week 1 game, which will be held at Stadium in Houston, is in their backyard. Their head coach, Tom Herman, is one of the most sought after coaches in the nation that Power 5 schools are attempt to snatch away. If Houston is to go forward as a program, their matchup with Oklahoma will do a lot to solidify that.
On the other sideline, Mayfield and the Sooners are playing two teams in Houston and Ohio State in the opening three weeks that will put their College Football Playoff odds in jeopardy. While Oklahoma has the advantage of a rugged Big 12 schedule to recover with, that could put them behind the “eight ball” as quickly as it would springboard them back ahead.