The most common words in the headlines of the OU recap stories this year have been descriptions like, “survives," “hangs on," “outlasts," “close” and many other similar observations.
Farther down in those articles you will find additional common themes revolving around the Sooners benefiting from things like, “muffed punts," "tipped passes" and "lucky bounces." Fortunately for Oklahoma the computers that help decide the BCS rankings don’t see any of these things, they just look at wins and losses and the records of those teams that didn’t survive quite as long as the Sooners.
Oklahoma has been even or beaten in total yards in four of their wins thus far. Possibly the most telling statistic of the season for the Sooners wins this year is the fact that they are an impressive plus-nine in turnover margin. Without those timely turnovers and often times unforced errors by opposing teams we might be looking at a 4-2 or even 3-3 team heading into a matchup with No. 11 Mizzou this weekend.
The fact is that the Sooners inexperienced defense has been blistered through the air by Utah State, run over on the ground by Air Force and outgained by both Texas and Cincinnati. DeMarco Murray has been the shining star for the Sooners and they have that obscene turnover margin. Other than that, they look decidedly average.
Even though the Sooners have been winning in a less than impressive fashion (Florida St. and Iowa St. excluded), the teams that they have beaten boast a combined record of 25-14.
Oregon on the other hand has faced competition with a combined record of 13-24 (Including one FCS team). Boise State has run through opponents with a combined record of 16-24, while Auburn is undefeated against teams totaling 25 wins against 20 losses. This is the primary reason that the computers love the Sooners.
The computers don’t see things like Oregon pulling away and looking stronger in the fourth quarter while the Sooners allow teams to close in on them late in the game.
They also don’t take into account that Boise State has been playing backups most of the second half in their blowout wins and they have victories against two division leaders.
I guess it proves we can't be quite sure why the computers rank the way that they do when we see Ohio State still ranked three spots above Wisconsin, so why wouldn't it make sense that they place a decidedly "non-dominant" team at the head of the pack.
The Sooners, Broncos and Tigers have each beaten two ranked teams this season. If you average he two rankings of the teams that each of them has faced, you would come up with an average ranking of No. 19 for the Sooners' wins, No. 17 for Boise State, No. 12 for Auburn and Oregon’s only victory against a ranked opponent was Stanford at No. 9. Auburn actually looks to be the most impressive in this category, but it also has two wins versus teams from the lowly Sun Belt conference.
Of course there are a lot of other factors that go into the computer rankings that make up a team's strength of schedule, but as it stands now the Sooners have a great opportunity to stretch out their lead in that category this week when they travel to Columbia to face No. 11 Missouri, which is also undefeated at 6-0.
If they beat the Tigers, they will take a solid step forward in convincing the human voters that they deserve their lofty computer ranking. However, against a stingy Tiger defense you have to wonder if they will yet again be able to “survive” or if they might be exposed to be that 4-2 or 3-3 team that they have come so close to being.