Why Oklahoma Can Sneak Past SEC and Pac-12 Powerhouses to Crash BCS Title Game
Who still has the Oklahoma Sooners winning the national championship?
After the first week of the college football regular season and the performance the Sooners gave in their victory over UTEP, it is hard to be confident in this football program. But if we are going to base our national championship picks off of just one week, we need to scratch teams like Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas, Wisconsin and Virginia Tech off the list as well.
Relax. It was just one week of a very long season.
Here are five reasons why the Oklahoma Sooners can still reach the national championship game and win in 2012.
Secondary Will Hold Down the Defense
As you see in the video, the Oklahoma Sooners have potential in the defensive backfield. They just need players to step up and play the way they are capable of playing.
Last season, Oklahoma was ranked fourth in the Big 12 in passing yards allowed and was 79th in the country. The Sooners simply allowed way too many big passing plays, which is not acceptable if you are trying to win a national championship.
Now, under Mike Stoops, it seems like that potential has a chance to really flourish, as the Sooners have gone to a less complicated scheme and switched a few positions. And although Oklahoma did not look good as a team last weekend, the defense only allowed seven completions and 48 passing yards, which is currently second in the country.
The secondary is experienced and one of the more talented units in the entire country.
Playing in a Big 12 that has become so pass-happy, this is a group that will be tested all season long. So far, it looks like it will be able to hold its own in 2012.
Two-Headed Monster at RB
Oklahoma received great news that Dominique Whaley was cleared to play this season and will be able to help contribute on offense. But while he continues to ease into the lineup after fracturing his ankle last year, Damien Williams was a positive in the victory over UTEP, showing that Whaley is not the only back who can turn heads on the football field.
Of Williams, linebacker Corey Nelson said (via Brandon Chatmon of ESPN):
He's a very powerful dude, very explosive back. You have to move your feet, you gotta bring him down with attitude, because when he runs, he runs with attitude and with a lot of want-to.
You have to come back with that same intensity. If not, you're going to get run over.
Williams only touched the ball nine times in the game, but he managed to run for 104 yards and score a touchdown.
Whaley was one of the best backs in the country last season before going down with an injury that cut his season short. Against UTEP he carried the ball 11 times for 54 yards, which resulted in an average just less than five yards a touch.
If both backs can stay healthy and continue to produce, the Sooners have a great running back tandem to look forward to this season.
Landry Jones Is the Most Experienced QB
Say what you want about Landry Jones, but the fifth-year senior is the most experienced quarterback in college football with 38 starts under his belt. He is also on pace to become the most successful quarterback in Oklahoma history, as he has over 12,000 passing yards and 95 career passing touchdowns.
He has completed at least 63 percent of his passes the last two seasons and could become a top-five quarterback in next year’s NFL draft if he continues to improve. Jones has above-average accuracy, a very strong arm and is a better athlete than most would like to give him credit for.
While he may be the scapegoat for the lack of success last season, there aren't too many quarterbacks right now that you should want over the fifth-year senior, especially if your team is chasing more than just a Big 12 title.
Schedule Will Help Climb Up the Rankings
While I think the Big 12 is arguably the toughest conference next to the SEC, the Oklahoma Sooners seem to have received a bit of a break from the schedule. Sure, they will play teams such as Kansas State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma State, but all three of those games are in Norman, giving the Sooners a slight edge.
I don't know if you have seen the Texas Longhorns lately, but until that quarterback position is fixed and they can score points consistently, I don't see an upset in the Red River Rivalry. Not to mention, that defense did allow 345 total yards to Wyoming, and Texas lost to Oklahoma by a score of 55-17 just last season.
Really, the toughest game for the Sooners this season will be the late-season trip to Morgantown to take on the West Virginia Mountaineers. West Virginia is one of the more difficult atmospheres to play in for visiting teams, and that offense, led by quarterback Geno Smith, is no joke.
A trip to Fort Worth, taking on TCU for the regular-season finale, will be tough, but how will the Horned Frogs fare in their first season in the Big 12 against a veteran Oklahoma squad?
Overall, the path to a possible national championship could have been much more difficult. Bob Stoops' club would certainly like to take advantage of the home games that they were awarded with this year.
Everybody Else Will Beat Up Each Other
Now that we know this Oklahoma team has strength on both sides of the ball and a schedule that is in its favor, the path is really cleared for the Sooners to return to the big game.
Well, every other team ahead of them in the rankings will cancel each other out as the season plays on.
Alabama and LSU play each other this year, and the loser will take a dip in the rankings and the winner possibly locking up the SEC and likely securing a trip to the big dance. (Trust me, you won't see two SEC teams in the big game once again.)
USC and Oregon will likely play each other twice, which means that if there is a split in the meetings, neither one will likely take a trip to Miami for a shot at a national title—especially if the higher-ranked team loses in the Pac-12 title game.
Of course, there are a lot of ifs and the season is only one week in. But Oklahoma has the talent and a schedule for a shot at a national title this season. All the Sooners have to do is improve off of their shaky start and take care of business the rest of the way.