The Oklahoman


- — Jacob Unruh, Staff writer

Oklahoma continues its 2021 campaign with a home game against Western Carolina on Saturday at 6 p.m. Here's a look at some keys to watch when OU takes on Western Carolina:

3 players to watch

Center Andrew Raym: The Sooners' offensive line left much to be desired in Week 1's win over Tulane. It didn't generate many holes for OU's running backs, and it struggled to get much push on short-yardage situations. Raym should help with that, though. The sophomore center was used sparingly against the Green Wave due to a medical issue, but he has been cleared to reclaim his starting gig over Robert Congel.

Running back Kennedy Brooks: OU didn't have a clear-cut lead back entering its season opener, but Brooks ran away with the competitio­n against Tulane. The redshirt junior rushed for 87 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Meanwhile, Eric Gray ran for 27 yards on nine carries. Brooks can continue to make his case for top-dog status on Saturday.

Defensive lineman Isaiah Thomas: The Sooners' defense is as good on paper as any group in the country, but it looked vulnerable against Tulane. The Green Wave racked up 396 yards of offense and 35 points, and that starts in the trenches. After recording a sack and forcing a fumble in Week 1, it'll be up to Thomas to set the tone against Western Carolina.

2 big questions

Can OU’s running game get going? The Sooners only recorded 116 rushing yards on 35 carries (3.3 yards per carry) against the Green Wave, and the blame can't entirely fall on the offensive line. If OU is going to compete for a national championsh­ip, Brooks and Gray must be clicking on all cylinders.

How much of a blowout can the Sooners make this game? This is the only question that really matters. OU is the overwhelmi­ng favorite vs. Western Carolina, but that was also the case against Tulane. After narrowly avoiding an upset vs. the Green Wave, the Sooners need to defeat the Catamounts in a dominant fashion to restore their credibilit­y.

1 wild prediction

The Sooners will have three players record at least 100 rushing or receiving yards. OU's offense should have a field day against Western Carolina, and that should lead to some video game statistics. Brooks and Gray will each record at least 100 rushing yards, while Marvin Mims will reach triple-digit receiving yards in the win.

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