Top 25 Preview Capsules

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Question of the Day

Is it still considered bad form to talk politics during a social gathering?

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PLAYERS TO WATCH

Oklahoma: RB Dominique Whaley. After a surprising emergence as the Sooners’ running back a year ago, the former walk-on broke his ankle in late October and missed the rest of the year. He had been averaging 104.5 yards rushing per game up to that point.

UTEP: QB Nick Lamaison. The preseason All-Conference USA first-team selection has his two top receivers, Michael Edwards and Jordan Leslie, back from last season and will be breaking in a new running back, Nathan Jeffery, after the team’s top three rushers departed.

FACTS & FIGURES

The game offers Oklahoma QB Landry Jones a homecoming of sorts. It’s the closest he’ll get to play to his Artesia, N.M., home, at about 200 miles away. … UTEP is 4-47 all-time against Top 25 teams, with its best win coming against No. 7 BYU in 1985. … The Sooners’ only previous games in El Paso were in bowl games, including the 2009 Sun Bowl. … The most recent game in the series was won 68-0 by Oklahoma, in Norman in 2002.

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Arkansas State at No. 5 Oregon, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Line: Oregon by 33,

Series Record: First meeting.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

Oregon is 2-1 in season openers under coach Chip Kelly, the Ducks’ lone loss came in the 2011 Cowboys Classic against LSU last year. Oregon has sold out Autzen Stadium for 82 games, but that streak has been threatened against Arkansas State. The Ducks have gone to Groupon to sell remaining tickets. Arkansas State will debut new head coach Gus Malzahn.

KEY MATCHUP

Oregon’s speedy spread offense against Arkansas State’s defense. The Ducks quick-strike offense tends to tire defenses out, and it is likely that they’ll do the same against the Red Wolves. Oregon lost prolific running back LaMichael James to the NFL, but they shouldn’t lose a step with senior RB Kenjon Barner. The Red Wolves’ defense held six opponents to under 20 points last season. They allowed under 350 yards in total offense five times last season, and allowed opponents an average of 4.7 yards per play.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Arkansas State: QB Ryan Aplin. The senior QB threw for 3,588 yards and 19 touchdowns last season, and also rushed for 588 yards and 10 touchdowns. He threw 16 interceptions. He needs six TDs to become Arkansas State’s career leader. He also needs 154 yards of total offense for the school record.

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