Every year one game can determine which conference will hold rank over another in the eyes of the nation. This saturday, when the Sooners meet the Canes' in Land Shark stadium, will mark one of those games. Both teams know it to.
Switzer and Johnson are gone. Irvin and Bosworth won't suit up. Head to head records won't erase a loss this week-end. History can step aside for this one. This game is about the future.
A shot at that elusive crystal ball may be the top of many minds, but there is alot more at play here. Title implications are just the start. For Oklahoma,this game could be the difference between a B.C.S. bowl or a second trip in one year to the Cotton bowl, or once again it could determine who get's to play in the Big 12 championship. Can anyone say three-way tie?
Two weeks ago the Canes' were the early national 'darlings'. After a loss to the Hokies last week that all changed. Quieted seems to be talk of Hiesman hopefuls and january bowls, Miami knows another loss will render them silent. if Miami wants to take that next step to getting back among the elite this year, they must win this game. If the ACC wants to be at the top this may be a game they can point to for respect later in the year.
After a shaky start to the non-conference season, Big 12 knows if OU lays an egg down south it could spell disaster as far as next season. Rankings may not matter as much in the early weeks, but they do matter to some extent. Where you start does seem to play a part in where you can end up, and where you end up is what matters.
With losses to UConn by Baylor and UCLA by Kansas state, the Big East and Pac-10 are already knocking at the door. But those were all middle-feeders. To be able to correctly gauge supremacy among conferences, you need powers from those conferences to collide on the field. Thanks to Stoops' 'no-fear' scheduling, the nation will get just that.
This saturday the Sooners contest against the Hurricanes will have many reasons to win. None may prove more important than being able to say ' Our conference is better than yours'.