OU vs. BYU: First College Game at JerryWorld

No. 3 Oklahoma takes on No. 20 BYU Saturday

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    OU head football coach Bob Stoops.

    Bob Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners know all about riding down Interstate 35 to play a big game in the Dallas area against a ranked opponent.

      Never like this, though.
     
    Six weeks before their annual matchup with Texas at the Cotton Bowl, Stoops and the No. 3 Sooners open their season Saturday night against No. 20 BYU in the new home of the Dallas Cowboys, the $1.15 billion Cowboys Stadium.
     
    "That's kind of cool," said OU defensive tackle Adrian Taylor, who is from nearby Mansfield.
     
    This will be the first college football game played in the stadium already known for its 60-yard long, 90-foot high video boards. It also will be the building's first football game in which the score actually matters; the two games the Cowboys have played there were merely preseason.
     
    "Man, it's going to be great," Oklahoma cornerback Dominique Franks said. "I'm excited to see it on Friday or Saturday, whenever we go on walkthrough. I'm going to need to be able to see that big screen before we actually start warming up so I can get it out of my mind and get used to it."
     
    A sellout crowd of around 80,000 is expected, including some paying $25 to stand and watch. The majority will be rooting for Oklahoma, although there will be an intriguing exception: former Cowboys quarterback Danny White, whose nephew is BYU quarterback Max Hall.
     
    "I hope (BYU) plays in a manner equal to, or even exceeding, the stage they are on," Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall said. "And that would be saying something considering it is the eighth wonder of the world, which I think some are calling it."
     
    The showcase venue is a splashy way for Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford to kick off his bid for a second straight Heisman Trophy and for the team to start its bid for a return trip to the national title game.
     
    The Sooners lost to Florida in last season's championship, then said farewell to four starters on the offensive line and three of their top receivers. The new line includes a converted tight end at center, while their linebacker corps is filled with guys coming back from knee injuries and is missing another in an eligibility battle with the NCAA.
     
    With uncertainty at pivotal spots, Oklahoma probably could use an opener against a patsy but that's not what they're getting.
     
    BYU is coming off a third straight 10-win season and has a big-time quarterback of its own in Hall. Plus, the Cougars have spent all offseason targeting this game, thinking about it "in every rep, in every lift and every sprint we ran," Hall said.
     
    "To win a big game like this one I think definitely could help us get into that top tier of programs," he said. "I don't think we're quite there yet, but this will obviously help our chances to be known as one of the best in the country."
     
    Like Bradford, Hall is coming back from a huge season with questions about his blockers and receivers.
     
    BYU is breaking in new starters on the line and needs to establish a new No. 1 receiver now that Austin Collie has left for the NFL. Collie led the nation in receiving yards per game, making him a big reason why Hall passed for nearly 4,000 yards.
     
    If Hall can outplay Bradford, he could jump into the Heisman conversation.
     
    "I'm counting on our defense to slow him down a little bit and give our offense a chance to do some things," Hall said.
     
    The Cougars are 1-6 against ranked teams under Mendenhall, with that one win against a conference foe -- in other words, someone they were used to playing. BYU hasn't beaten a ranked non-conference foe since 1996, losing all 12 tries.
     
    These teams have met only once, back in a 1994 bowl game. BYU won what turned out to be Gary Gibbs' last game as coach of the Sooners.
     
    As long of a wait as that's been, the eight months since the loss to Florida has seemed longer to Bradford.
     
    "There were days in the winter and the summer when I never thought this day would come," he said. "Now, we're finally here and we've gone through two-a-days and we're into game week now. I think everyone on our football team is really excited about this opportunity."