The Oklahoma Sooners' 63-21 rout of arch-nemesis Texas in the Red River Rivalry showcased just how talented this 2012 team is. Despite an early loss, the cards look to be falling into place to revive the team's national title hopes.
In the recently released BCS Standings, Oklahoma ranks ninth, while the only team it lost to in Kansas State comes in at No. 4.
The combination of remaining quality opponents and fellow Big 12 conference foes that have yet to face each other puts the Sooners in an ideal position to make a title run.
A narrow 24-19 loss to KSU suddenly doesn't look bad at all in light of college football's recent developments. Texas Tech's shocking blowout of West Virginia and Heisman front-runner Geno Smith also helped the cause. Oklahoma managed to pull off a 21-point victory over the Red Raiders on the road immediately following its loss to the Wildcats.
This weekend's game against Kansas should be a cakewalk for the Sooners, which will set up a highly anticipated showdown in Norman with the undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish. If the Sooners pull out that game, they almost certainly will vault into the BCS Top Five.
The strength of the Oklahoma schedule doesn't end with the Notre Dame game. Road tests at the upstart Iowa State Cyclones, in Morgantown versus the Mountaineers and the finale at TCU will all provide pitfalls to a national title bid.
So why should this year be any different than the other Sooner teams in recent memory who have fallen short?
To start, this is the best Sooner defense since 2009. It stymied dynamic Longhorns quarterback David Ash, holding him to a completion rate under 50 percent, and forcing two interceptions without allowing a TD through the air.
Although he could have left school a year early, QB Landry Jones elected to return for his senior season to orchestrate a very balanced offensive attack that averages 285 yards through the air and 221 yards on the ground.
Now, here are the circumstances that have Oklahoma in legitimate national title contention despite being a one-loss team.
On Saturday, Smith and the Mountaineers take on Kansas State at home looking to redeem their embarrassment in Lubbock, facing an even better opponent. This could have been a battle of top-five teams. But the Mountaineers will look to play spoiler in front of a raucous home crowd to get their season back on track.
Another common theme in the initial BCS rankings was the SEC favoritism. While it's somewhat justified, the Florida Gators coming in as the second-ranked team was a bit of a shock.
With six of the 12 top teams from the Southeastern Conference, there are so many ways the race could swing. Many of the top teams are still set to square off, so it's unlikely any of them will emerge from the pack unscathed.
As long as Bob Stoops can get his stacked team to ride the huge wave of momentum generated by its most recent stunning display in the Cotton Bowl, Oklahoma should be squarely in the national championship conversation by season's end.
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