Sept. 10 is a date many Sooner fans already have circled on their calendars. That's when the ULM Warhawks will serve as Oklahoma's 2016 home-opening opponent. But it's also when OU faithful will get their first look at the new south end zone seating bowl, complete with suites, loge boxes and club seats. A larger south end zone video board will also debut. It's all part of the $160 million stadium project's first phase.
ABOUT THE WARHAWKS
ULM enters a new era in 2016 as first-year head coach Matt Viator attempts to help revive a program that went 2-11 a year ago. Viator previously spent 10 seasons at McNeese State where he racked up a record of 78-33, including a 10-0 regular season in 2015. His squad reached the second round of the FCS Playoffs.
The Warhawks return all three of their leading rushers from a year ago, including quarterback Garrett Smith, who piled up 359 yards on the ground to go along with 2,033 yards passing and 19 total touchdowns. Junior receiver Marcus Green will also be a key returner. Green led ULM with 905 all-purpose yards in 2015, 698 of which came off his team-high 63 receptions.
LAST TIME AT HOME
Oklahoma's home finale last season was a thriller that won't soon be forgotten. The Sooners carried a 30-13 lead over the 18th-ranked TCU Horned Frogs into the fourth quarter despite losing quarterback Baker Mayfield for the second half due to injury, but TCU rallied in the fourth quarter.
With less than one minute left in regulation, TCU quarterback Bram Kohlhausen tossed a 14-yard touchdown to Emanuel Porter to make the score 30-29. Needing just an extra point to tie the game, the Horned Frogs elected to go for two, leaving the fate of the game to one play.
As Kohlhausen rolled to his right and threw toward a receiver in the corner of the end zone, Steven Parker left his man and closed on the quarterback. The Sooner safety timed his leap perfectly and batted the pass down to secure the OU win.
The Sooners did serious offensive damage on the ground, rushing for 333 yards with the help of a 188-yard effort from Samaje Perine. Joe Mixon added 87 rushing yards and Baker Mayfield 42. OU's Heisman-hopeful quarterback threw for 127 yards and a pair of scores on 9-of-20 passing before exiting the game at the half.
LAST TIME VS. ULM
The Sooners and Warhawks last squared off three years ago when ULM made the trip to Norman for the 2013 home opener. Oklahoma's 34-0 win was the 150th of head coach Bob Stoop's career and also served as the debut for former OU signal-caller Trevor Knight.
With a team-high 103 rushing yards, Knight became first OU quarterback to rush for 100 yards in a game since Jason White in 2001. He also threw for three touchdowns. Jalen Saunders led the Sooners in receiving with three grabs for 30 yards and a pair of scores.
Super Bowl champion and current Denver Bronco Corey Nelson led the defense in pitching the shutout. Nelson paced the team with eight total tackles while also adding a team-high 2.0 tackles for loss and a sack. Current Sooner Jordan Wade got in on the action, recording a pair of tackles. OU held ULM to just 166 total yards of offense and gave up just 38 yards on the ground.