OU football opponent outlook: Oklahoma opens road slate with Army's triple-option threat

AP Photo / Tony Ding

Army running back Sandon McCoy (3) scores a touchdown in the first quarter of a game against Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, last Sept. 7. Michigan won 24-21 in double-overtime.

• Editor’s note: Questions remain about the 2020 football season due to COVID-19. The Transcript previews of Oklahoma’s schedule contain the latest available information, but opponents, times, sites and other details are subject to change.

Army nearly did the unimaginable two years ago.

The Black Knights and their triple-option attack were almost good enough to beat Oklahoma in Norman. But only almost.

The Sooners prevailed in overtime, thanks to a Kyler Murray touchdown throw to CeeDee Lamb and Parnell Motley intercepting Army’s Kelvin Hopkins to seal the victory. It was a remarkable way to win a game for a team that spent 74.5% of regulation time on defense.

The Sooners and Black Knights are scheduled to meet again this season but in West Point, New York.

Army is attempting to bounce back from a 5-8 season a year ago, while the Sooners are looking to extend their College Football Playoff streak and get out of the semifinal round.

OU has to hope a win at Army ages well, just as it did in 2018. The Sooners were heavy favorites against the Black Knights and their narrow 28-21 overtime win seemed alarming.

OU's defensive issues were prominent that year but Army went on to win 11 games after taking OU to the wire and beat Houston 70-14 in the Armed Forces Bowl.

For OU, a win over Army again could be a major College Football Playoff résumé builder, especially if the Sooners beat Tennessee two weeks prior.

• When: Week 4 | Sept. 26 (Time and TV, TBA)

• Where: Michie Stadium, West Point, New York (Capacity: 38,000)

• All-time series: OU leads 3-1

A look at the Black Knights

• Overview: Army's 2019 season started so promising.

While it was a loss, the Black Knights had another near-upset with its back-and-forth battle with seventh-ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Army lost 24-21 but coming off an 11-2 season, it at least signaled at the time Army wasn't going anywhere.

The only issue? The 2019 Black Knights, who enjoyed experience at critical positions last year, never figured out how to win a close game. Army lost its first six games by single-digit margins. Hawaii and Navy — Army's last two games of the season — beat the Black Knights in runaway fashion.

Army now has its 2019 team’s two leading rushers, leading tackler and quarterback to replace.

The program’s pesky triple-option offense should still present problems for the Sooners. Although, OU coach Lincoln Riley will have two weeks to prepare his players. OU’s game against Army comes after a bye.

Key returner: Sandon McCoy. Army is synonymous with running the ball and McCoy is their most proven runner of any player back for the 2020 season. The senior running back led Army with 10 rushing touchdowns a year ago and had the most rushing yards (576) in 2019 of any returning player.

Expect to hear his name plenty when the Sooners visit West Point, along with the victor of Army’s offseason quarterback battle.

Key departure: Hopkins. The Black Knights’ quarterback’s statistics dropped off from a stellar junior campaign but he still led the team with 710 rushing yards and 577 passing yards last season. He also accounted for 11 total touchdowns.

He will leave big shoes to fill after contributing to Army’s back-to-back 10-win seasons in 2017 and ’18.

Joe Buettner

405-366-3580

Follow me @ByJoeBuettner

jbuettner@normantranscript.com

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