Every Sooner fan knows the road woes OU experienced last year. Playing on the road was usually a disaster, as the Sooners won only two of seven games away from Memorial Stadium.
It was a problem for which the offensive side of the ball bears most of the blame, but the defense contributed as well. While their first four road losses were by a combined 12 points, the curb-stomping in Lubbock against Texas Tech was a total team effort.
Now this year's team in Crimson and Cream plays its first road game of the season against the two-time defending Big East champions, the University of Cincinnati. This contest was expected to provide one of the sterner tests on the schedule for the young Sooners before the season started.
Apparently, nobody bothered to tell the Bearcats this, because they come into the game with a disappointing 1-2 record.
After going undefeated last year before a blowout BCS bowl loss to Florida, Cincinnati lost head coach Brian Kelly to Notre Dame and its two best playmakers to the NFL. Now they are reeling and in search of a new identity.
Zach Collaros was expected to step into the spot vacated by departed quarterback Tony Pike and continue the offensive production that had carried the Bearcats to two straight Big East titles. Collaros had filled in well enough when Pike was injured for a portion of last season that he had Cincinnati fans excited about the dual threat he provided as the new signal caller.
That has obviously not been the case thus far this season as he is averaging less than one yard a carry, with the 15 sacks surrendered so far contributing greatly to this lack of success.
Cincinnati's early season disappointments could actually be a cause of concern for Sooner fans. Oklahoma is heavily favored in this game despite its recent history of poor road performances and tendencies to play to the level of competition, especially when they are expected to win easily.
With the Red River Rivalry looming next weekend in Dallas, the Sooners may come into this game with less focus than they need to bring, particularly on the road. If Oklahoma has any hopes for a championship season this year, they need to set the tone early with a dominating game in their first trip into the state of Ohio since their classic 1979 victory over Ohio State on a last-second Uwe Von Shamann field goal.
Coming out of this game with a convincing win could provide the young team the confidence so desperately needed to carry them throughout the season as they travel to other hostile environments.