Running game (Advantage: OU)
• Both OU and Missouri State are dealing with inexperienced backfields, as well as missing a few key pieces. OU’s top 2019 returning rushers Kennedy Brooks (opt out of season) and Rhamondre Stevenson (suspension) will not be available on Saturday, while Missouri State will not have Jeremiah Wilson, who averaged 11.0 yards on 15 carries last season, due to an injury. OU has earned the benefit of the doubt that its offensive play should be solid enough for the likes of T.J. Pledger, Marcus Major and Seth McGowan to be effective.
Passing game (Advantage: OU)
• Spencer Rattler is starting his first game for the Sooners, as is Southern Miss transfer Jaden Johnson for Missouri State. Johnson, a 6-foot-2 pro-style quarterback, was a talented addition to coach Bobby Petrino's first team. Johnson received four-star billing from ESPN and three stars from 247Sports.com and Rivals out of high school. Rattler, though, was the top quarterback in his recruiting class. It’s been almost two years since Rattler played a meaningful snap, but it’s hard to imagine him not putting up big numbers in coach Lincoln Riley’s offense.
Run defense (Advantage: OU)
• OU statistically had the Big 12’s best run defense last season, while Missouri State was the worst in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Sooners still must replace current Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Neville Gallimore. Highly touted junior college transfer Perrion Winfrey is poised to fill those shoes. Winfrey was the No. 1 junior college prospect overall in this last recruiting cycle. OU returns LaRon Stokes, the Big 12's Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2019 with 4.5 tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks.
Pass defense (Advantage: OU)
• OU expected to return its top-two sack leaders from 2019 with Jalen Redmond (6.5) and Ronnie Perkins (6.0). Redmond has reportedly opted out of for the season and is no longer on OU’s online roster, while Perkins is expected to serve a suspension for the first half of the season. OU should be fine for Week 1 without their services. OU linebacker Nik Bonitto disrupted plenty of passing attacks last season, and the Sooners secondary is a year older and finally healthy after an injury-plagued 2019 season. OU finished in the top-half of Big 12 passing defenses in 2019.
Special teams (Advantage: OU)
• Gabe Brkic's perfect 52-of-52 successful extra-point attempts and 17-of-17 field goal attempts is well noted. Brkic didn’t start the year for OU in 2019, but he quickly became one of the most reliable assets on the team. Parker Lacina was a solid 9 of 14 on field goals and made a long of 45. Where OU might truly win this battle is the blue-chip talent it has on its kickoff and punt return unit. Freshman Marvin Mims has already asserted him as a starter on both teams.
Intangibles (Advantage: OU)
• While OU can’t overthink it, this matchup is as a lopsided as they come. The one area where a Football Championship Subdivision program can really give a Football Bowl Subdivision program issues is coaching. Former Louisville coach Bobby Petrino is now in Springfield, Missouri, leading the Bears. His scandalous past aside, Petrino’s coaching track record is as good as an FCS team could hope for. The only issue? He’s facing OU coach Lincoln Riley, who won’t have his team any less prepared.