Big 12 Preview: Oklahoma, Contender

These guys are among the small handful of preseason favorites for the national championship. Easy call putting them in the Contender category today, no? We make no promises on their ability to deliver, given the whole hot stove human behavior thing whereby Oklahoma has lost big in so many different ways in bowl games lately we know better than to bet on crimson anytime after early December.

But there's always that victory over Texas to fall back on, right? Assuming they beat Texas this year, of course.

Why They'll Win


Talent. It's the lifeblood of all college football programs and Oklahoma's fairly deep with it. The guys the NFL loves are on the lines, but college football fans can appreciate great players with diminished NFL prospects like one Sam Bradford. This guy's just got the knack for making accurate throws, on time, and making the right reads. His freshman season is simply the best statistical freshman season ever.

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Oklahoma will continue to do what it always does, play fast on defense, and find ways to get the ball down the field on the ground and in the air. Leading rusher Allen Patrick departs but the exciting DeMarco Murray has arrived and he will be pushed in a big way from frosh back Jermie Calhoun. The offensive line is also widely considered the nation's finest.

Why They'll Lose


There's no particular reason here, at least during the regular season. After a short burst from Texas, Oklahoma has regained conference supremacy the last year or two and probably this year as well.

Colorado played them tough and may have caught Oklahoma napping. The Texas Tech loss was a bit more revealing. The Red Raiders came in confident and buried Oklahoma early under an offensive blitz. They also knocked Bradford out of the game and his backup couldn't quite rally the team in time.

The schedule isn't particularly daunting, although Texas, Texas Tech and Kansas loom during a particular mid/late season stretch. Oklahoma could open up hot again and fall asleep somewhere without the fluffiest of pillows and realize too late they're about to lose. Other than that? Nah.

How To Beat Them


Upset special prepared three ways. If you follow the Colorado model, you play tough but otherwise lay in the weeds at home and then pounce while Oklahoma's still sleepy.

If you follow the Texas Tech model, you again play tough at home, but unload the offensive arsenal before the Sooners have drawn their first breath.

Or, you could just meet them in a bowl game, and if you have a legitimately good offense (USC, Virginia Tech, Boise State) slap them around into surrender.

That or stick a longhorn on your helmet, invite Oklahoma to the Texas state fairgrounds and see who comes out on top.

Prognosis


Very, very good. The Sooners only return five projected starters on defense but they have a ton of able bodies to step in there. The offense is loaded and although they lost big receiver Malcolm Kelly, could be better. The schedule's reasonable enough and in theory this program is sufficiently embarrassed after several bowl thrashings to take care of business in the regular season and like Ohio State, wait for redemption in January.

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