BCS Rankings 2010: Breaking Down the Oklahoma Sooners
The first official BCS rankings of 2010 are out and you can hear it coming: "Not Oklahoma again! They suck!!! (Insert team name here) would crush them."
Every Sooner fan has heard it numerous times from others all across the country, whether it be from fans of other programs or even from so-called football experts.
In fact, they have heard it more frequently than any other program in the BCS era. After all, OU has played in four of the last 10 BCS Championship games.
Since 1999, when Bob Stoops took over the starving monster that was Oklahoma football after Barry Switzer was ousted in the late 80s, he has nursed the Sooner program back to life by feeding it very well indeed.
Stoops Troops can claim victories over Alabama, Oregon, Florida State, Miami, TCU, Stanford, Nebraska and Texas among the many meals that have fueled the Sooners resurgence to national prominence.
The critics, or, as Sooner fans' know them, the "jealous wannabes," point to Oklahomas' 1-3 record in the biggest game as their main proof Oklahoma doesn't belong among the elite.
For Sooner fans, while the losses hurt, it doesn't diminish the indisputable fact that playing football for the University of Oklahoma gives a player the best chance he's got to make it to the biggest stage in all of college football, the BCS Championship game.
How They Got to This Point: Perserverance and Sooner Magic
Oklahoma started the season ranked in the top 10 by most major pollsters and even had prognosticator Phil Steeles' vote as the most likely national champion.
After opening the season with a close 31-24 home game victory over a lightly regarded Utah State team that returned most of their starters, the Sooners dropped slightly in the first regular season polls.
The next week's 47-17 victory over an explosive Florida State team had them rising again but was followed by two more tight wins, at home against Air Force (27-24) and on the road at Cincinnati (31-29).
Despite the Longhorns of Texas losing the preceding game at home to PAC 10 light-weight UCLA, the Sooners were not heavily favored to win in the Red River Rivalry and they did not disappoint, winning by only eight points, 28-20.
After a bye week, Oklahoma came out in Norman against Iowa State with their most complete game of the season, winning 52-0.
Despite some close calls, the Sooners have dominated the competition for most of every game they have played before allowing some teams to come back to make it close in the end.
Best Win: Red River Or Seminole Stompdown?
What is the Sooners' best victory of the season?
A second week, 30-point victory over a 5-1 Florida State team currently in the drivers seat to win the ACC certainly makes for a nice trophy.
Is it an eight-point victory in the Red River Rivalry over a two loss Texas team that just halted their losing streak by going into Lincoln to smash previously undefeated and highly regarded Nebraska?
While the victory over Florida State was a nice feather in the cap and it was definitely the more dominating of the two games, it did come in Norman, where OU owns the nations longest currently running home winning streak.
The win against Texas, on the other hand, was in hostile territory against an angry Longhorns team that was caught looking ahead to the rivalry game in the loss to UCLA.
Oklahoma did manage to win by only eight but that was mostly because Texas managed to score the last 10 points of the fourth quarter after OU had taken a commanding 18-point lead.
With two goal line stops by the defense, two more touchdowns by DeMarco Murray, one of the highlight reel variety, and Landry Jones leading the offense in an efficient and smart manner, the Sooners' victory over the Longhorns will be the one most remembered.
BCS Rankings Have Sooners Right Where They Want To Be
With the release of the seasons first BCS rankings, the Sooners come in ranked at No. 1 and in control of their own destiny. They come in on top once again, just ahead of No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Boise State.
Having already played one of the toughest schedules in the country, the Sooners have already been proven worthy, to this point, of the lofty ranking bestowed upon them.
With road trips left to currently undefeated and ranked teams in Missouri and Oklahoma State, in addition to at least three other teams that are likely to make bowl games themselves still left on the slate, OU has positioned themselves to where they need only to win out to have a shot at the programs 8th national championship.
Oklahoma has already been ranked more weeks at No. 1 and in the top five of the BCS polls since its inception than any other team in the FBS.
And many people all over the country hate them for it.
Too High Or Too Low: Where Would You Rank Them?
No matter where the Sooners came in ranked, someone, somewhere thinks it is just plain wrong.
They are currently the No. 1 team according to the all-important BCS rankings and here is why:
1) They have the best resume of the the top teams to this point.
2) DeMarco Murray, Ryan Broyles, Landry Jones, Travis Lewis, Jeremy Beal and Quentin Carter, among others on the team, are among the very best players at their positions in the FBS.
3) Bob Stoops and his staff are also among the very top in their profession.
However, the Sooners still have many doubters who believe they should be ranked lower because:
1) They have had some close calls in games.
2) They do not have the best statistics of the top teams.
3) Oklahoma sucks.
4) Nobody wants to see them in the NCG because they always get blown out.
I personally believe they are ranked right where they should be.
As a matter of fact, playing on a real neutral field, Oklahoma would probably be even-money or favored over every other team.
Playing in a "neutral field" NCG against the SEC champion, twice, in their home state and having both games come down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter is nothing to be ashamed of.
The Florida State game of 2000 and the USC game in 2004 cancel each other out. FSU was a big favorite and OU dominated. USC was a slight favorite and they dominated.
Remaining Schedule: Patsies, Pansies and Creampuffs, Oh My?
10/23 Oklahoma at Missouri Tigers at Columbia, Mizz.
10/30 Colorado Buffaloes at Oklahoma in Norman.
11/6 Oklahoma at Texas A&M Aggies in College Station, Tx.
11/13 Texas Tech Red Raiders at Oklahoma in Norman.
11/20 Oklahoma at Baylor in Waco, Tx.
11/27 Oklahoma at Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater
Potential Pitfalls: Who Poses the Biggest Threat?
OK, the Sooners are undefeated and looking good. They only need to beat up on the patsies left on the schedule on their inevitable march to the Big 12 and BCS championship games.
After all, Texas and Florida State were the biggest obstacles to an undefeated season and both foes have been vanquished. The rest of the games are against teams that couldn't beat Helen Keller in a game of hide and seek.
Hold on there, Sparky. The Sooners have some real football teams still left on their schedule.
Their toughest remaining games are road trips to two currently undefeated teams in Missouri this coming Saturday and the regular-season ending trip to Stillwater to take on in-state rival Oklahoma State.
Choosing which of these two is the biggest obstacle is a toss up at this point but I will go with the Bedlam rivalry game against OSU.
While the Cowboys defense doesn't really scare anyone, they have the offense to light up the scoreboard on the Sooners, particularly when playing at home.
Weeden, Blackmon and Hunter are among the best players in football at their positions and rival Jones, Broyles and Murray as the best trio in the country.
If it comes down to who can stop the other the most, the Sooners are better equipped on defense to come away with the victory but it could be a shoot-out at Picken's Place.
Intangibles: Veterans and Youngsters Meshing Together Quite Nicely
Is Oklahoma handicapped by the inexperience of the numerous youngsters cracking the lineup on gameday?
Or, does their youthful enthusiasm add the right ingredient to compliment the veteran starters, resulting in a mixture of raw ability and youthful exuberance, seasoned with proven playmakers?
Or, are the veterans the main ingredient and the fresh faces the seasoning?
So far, the resulting concoction has passed the taste test. They have shown themselves worthy to be served at any venue and have Sooner fans waiting in line and pulling strings for reservations.
However, the 6-0 start could prompt the players to start looking past weekly goals, like winning every game, towards distant season goals, like championships. This would be a disaster for the team.
If this team is not focused every week they will drop a game down the stretch. Everyone has seen what tends to happen when they get a big lead.
One thing the Sooners have on their side that the other main contenders, at this point, do not, is a veteran coaching staff that has proven time and again it knows how to get their date to the ball.
Bob Stoops and company have shown that, in most seasons, their team improves with age. They know how to get the team focused at least as far as the Big 12 Championship game.
Analyzing the Sooners' BCS Chances
Many teams still have BCS title hopes but very few have the ability to control their own destiny. Oklahoma is one such team that needs no help.
The Sooners do not need any other teams to lose at this point. Win out and the team in Crimson and Cream will be playing in the BCS Championship game.
An undefeated Big 12 team will definitely make it before an undefeated WAC or MWC team that had a much weaker schedule and no conference championship game.
What if a team from the Big 12, the Big Ten the Pac-10 and the SEC all finish undefeated?
While highly unlikely, it is not impossible at this point.
The SEC still has Auburn and LSU, the Pac-10 has Oregon, the Big Ten has Michigan State and the Big 12 has Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Missouri all currently unblemished. Only one team can finish unbeaten in either the Big 12 or SEC because of the conference championship game.
The two teams that had to play in and win the extra conference championship game, are the most likely to emerge in that scenario.
That scenario would give us a matchup of Auburn or LSU against Oklahoma in yet another game between the Big 12 and SEC for all the marbles.
That is a big if though, as we are barely halfway through the season.
Bowl Prediction: Fifth Title Game Appearance for the Sooners
While it is still way too early to make such a prediction with the utmost confidence, the Sooners have as good a shot as any and mufch better than most of finishing the year playing for another national championship.
That would make it, count em', five BCS Championship games in Bob Stoops 12 years at the helm.
That alone is more than enough to make knowledgeable college football fans tip their hats to Big Game Bob and the Sooner nation.