The saying, “This is where the rubber meets the road,” couldn’t be more true for the Sooners in the coming weeks.
In fact, for the first time since the 2002 season, Oklahoma will face back-to-back games against Top 10 opponents. This stretch will certainly provide a stiff test to a team that still has a lot of questions, but more importantly, it will either elevate or eliminate their chances at a Big 12 title.
For Oklahoma to come through unscathed, they’ll have to play their best football of the season.
On Saturday, the first test comes when Texas Tech rolls into Norman with a perfect 7-0 record. The Red Raiders, who debuted at No. 10 in the initial BCS rankings, will come into town featuring a high-powered offense that’s averaging 41 points per game.
Granted, the competition they’ve faced to this point has been anything but tough, but it’s pretty obvious that OU will have to shore up things on both sides of the ball if they hope to come away with a win.
Texas Tech was victorious in their last trip to Norman, and if you see a similar performance to what the Sooners have put on the field in the past two weeks, the Red Raiders will have a great chance to come away with their second-straight win at Owen Field.
After a bye week, the road becomes even tougher, as the Sooners travel to Waco to face No. 6 Baylor on a Thursday night.
To say the Bears have been a juggernaut on offense may not be enough justice to the gaudy numbers they’ve put up this season. In fact, Baylor leads the country in scoring offense with 64 points per game, as well as in total yards with 714 per game. Mix that in with an improved defense that leads the Big 12 in scoring defense with 16 points per game, and you have a road test that has many Sooner fans cringing.
The main concern for OU in both games lies on the defensive side of the ball, however, it’s yet to be seen if the offense can produce enough points to win in a shootout.
Through four conference games, Oklahoma has only scored more than 20 points in one contest. Their 34 points in last week’s win against Kansas was the first time they surpassed that mark. In past seasons, the Sooners could lean on their offense to outscore opponents. However, with the change of philosophy on offense and the deficiencies they're facing at quarterback, that's no longer the case.
There’s no doubt that both Baylor and Texas Tech will be the best offenses that Oklahoma has faced all year, and with the question marks that surround the defense, it’s tough to see the Sooners being able to slow down either team.
Basically, the Sooners find themselves at a fork in the road.
A loss to either would send the Sooners out of the Big 12 title race.
A loss to both could derail the entire season.
However, if the Sooners somehow find a way to start playing their best football of the year and win both, they’ll strongly be in the mix to claim their ninth conference championship since 2000.