Oklahoma is coming off of their BCS loss to Florida last year, but they did not lose all that much.
They return Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford and the top two running backs. The Sooners do lose three of their top four receivers and four offensive lineman.
When the preseason bonanza of polls come out, look for Oklahoma to be no worse than third behind Florida, and then either in front of or behind Texas.
To put the numbers in perspective, Oklahoma brings back 79.7 percent of their offense, and the return stats are listed below:
|Rushing||Carries||Yards||Yards Per Carry||TD|
|Receiving||Catches||Yards||Yards Per Catch||TD|
The offensive line is the biggest concern for Oklahoma, as they are breaking in four new starters in Brian Simmons, Ben Habern, Stephen Good, and Cory Brandon—all of whom are four star or above recruits from Rivals.
As for that loan returning offensive lineman, it is none other then All-American Trent Williams, so it is safe to say the Sooners are going to be fine on the line. The only conceivable problem is that the BYU is game number one of the season.
The line may not be a factor as BYU has lost its top three nose tackles this year, two to leaving on church missions, and one to academic issues. That could cause BYU to move over top defensive end Jan Jorgensen to play some nose tackle, and that would take away from his productivity.
Offensively, the Sooners return a ton and should be able to put up points like last year with little or no problem against most teams. The 2008 version scored 51.1 points per game, now it would be impressive if OU is able to top that number.
Opening in Jerry World may spark Bob Stoops to put on a good show, and with the way BYU's secondary played off the ball and that Oklahoma averaged 14.3 per pass completion, and just under 10 per attempt.
Oklahoma has the deep threat and touchdown threat at wide receiver with Jermaine Gresham, who had 950 yards, 14 scores, and looks to be the top target and improve off of those numbers.
Oh yeah, that quarterback situation is quite nice with Sam Bradford, who besides trying to join Archie Griffin to get a second Heisman has a chance to break the all-time touchdown pass record.
That is right, currently Bradford is sitting at 86 touchdowns and is only 48 behind former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell. And, if Bradford somehow gets 50 again this year, he will be the record holder and only played three years of college football.
If the offensive line gels quickly, Bradford may not have throw as often and let the running game just take over. The Sooners return two 1,000 yard rushers from last year in Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray.
Not too bad for this team, that, while looking at the pure offensive stats, wonders how they lost to Florida in the BCS title game.
Oh wait...the Big XII plays little or no defense.
Projecting these backs to both have 1,000 seasons again is tough, and currently the 2009 depth chart lists them as co-starters. Expect the average yards per carry to be slightly down because of a new offensive line, which cannot be underrated, and Oklahoma may not pass as much as last year.
The offense should be just as explosive, and—once the line gets on the same page, which should not take long—Oklahoma will be just as dominate as last year.
The defense was not a real problem, because when you score above 50 per game the defense can be sloppy at times. The Sooners were middle of the pack nationally by giving up 24.5 per game, and for being in the Big XII offensive Juggernaut league that was good for second just behind Texas.
BYU plays an offense that would fit nicely into the Big XII, which could pose a small threat to Oklahoma early in the game.
BYU has a strong running game with Harvey Unga and a great passing game, which could make the Sooners vulnerable to the play action pass. The secondary could be tested and beaten only if a team is able to bring the run consistently, and, even if that happens, expect for the Sooners to get beat maybe once on an over the top play.
The defensive stat that is a huge sign of how good a unit they are is turnover margin, and Oklahoma was 1.64 or plus 23 on the year. Those numbers equal out to 19 interceptions and 15 fumbles recovered.
Judging how good the Sooners defense is subjective, because the Big XII has great offensives who throw a lot.
The Sooners take the approach of bend do not break, running the other team off the field, and the defense is there to create turnovers and stop the big plays.
BYU fans are wishing for a victory, but in reality hope for a game that is not a massive blow out. And, if they keep it close, this game may not hurt them if they are going to make a serious run at their first ever BCS game.