Oklahoma Football: 5 Games That Could Derail the Sooners in 2011
Oklahoma is the talk of the town as they are considered to be the top team to beat in 2011. A lot of the teams at the top last year will be replacing key players but the Sooners return important offensive players that could easily send them to New Orleans in 2012. It's not a secret and people from all over will agree: the Sooners, barring injuries, will be a very good team this tear.
But like every journey to the top, there will be times that will test this team and challenge their ability to make it all the way. There are five games this season that will require the best from this team or they risk losing a trip the National Championship game. Read on for more.
September 17: @ Florida State
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Regardless of how the game turned out last year, Florida State is going to be a threat for sure. Quarterback EJ Manuel stepped it up in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl to defeat a great South Carolina team and is sure to cause problems for opposing defenses.
The game will be played in Florida this year which gives a slight edge to the Seminoles. Both of OU's losses last year were away games to teams that surprised the college football world. Missouri and Texas A&M weren't supposed to make a big splash but they were both in contention until the end for the opportunity to play for the Big 12 Championship.
Landry Jones and the rest of the offense will need to hit them and hit them early in this game to prevent a huge upset at the hands of the Seminoles. The Sooners started slow early last season and the same start will destroy their chances at a National Championship game.
October 2nd: Vs. Texas
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The Longhorns just wrapped up one of the worst seasons in recent memory. That being said, the Sooners should never discount Texas as an easy win.
This game is unpredictable and could easily go both ways. Last year, the Sooners could only put up 28 against the Texas defense and their terrible offense put up 20 points. While a victory is still a victory, it doesn't inspire much confidence coming into this game.
To shut down the Longhorns, they are going to have to minimize turnovers and launch an aerial assault on a defense that will be blitzing Landry like crazy. The Longhorns, with new offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, are going to be better on offense and will be implementing a Boise State-like offense that contributed to a wild and upsetting Fiesta Bowl for Oklahoma in 2007.
Sooner fans will probably underrate Garrett Gilbert and rightly so. Although Texas had more total yards than Oklahoma in the Red River Shootout, they just weren't able to execute. Assuming he gets the starting job, it should be expected that he will be better. Will it be enough to outscore the Sooner offense? It remains to be seen.
Then again, a wild 45-35 game in 2008 was followed by a 16-13 game the next year. This game is unpredictable and it's that reason alone that makes this a game that could hurt the Sooners this year.
October 29th: @ Kansas State
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Bill Snyder's Wildcats will be ready to launch their running attack against the Sooners. This game could be like last year's Missouri game: a highly ranked team plays a game with a specific strength and loses due to that strength.
While this team may be the weakest of the five, they certainly are not a team to discount. Preventing turnovers on the offensive side and stopping the running game will be essential for defeating Kansas State in Manhattan.
November 5th: Vs. Texas A&M
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While this may be the most controversial game of this list, the threat of a loss to the Aggies is very real. Everyone if fully aware of how great playing at home is, especially Oklahoma, but the arrogance of the home winning streak could come back to bite the Sooners in the rear end.
Ryan Tannehill replaced Jerrod Johnson midseason in 2010 and the Aggies took off. They later went on to defeat the Sooners 33-19 in College Station and must travel to Norman this year. The big key for the Sooners will be their defense.
They will need to shut down Tannehill and the strong running game in order to defeat Oklahoma. Otherwise, OU is likely to perform well. They kept turnovers to a minimum but when you're outnumbers in running yards per carry by three, you're going to run into problems.
The Aggies lost some key players on defense but their offense will more than make up for the threat that they posed last year to Oklahoma's National Championship hopes.
December 3rd: @ Oklahoma State
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This game could very well be a pseudo Big 12 Championship game. Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon return to Stillwater for their senior season in hopes of winning more than just a Big 12 South Championship ring.
This game will be decided by the best offense. Weeden and Jones ripped up their opposing defenses last year and will likely do it against this year. However, there's a neat little twist that may play in the favor of OU.
Dana Holgorsen, former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator, left to coach at West Virginia and takes with him his high-powered air raid offense. I've referred to a concept in a previous article of mine and the concept is about a system quarterback. Brandon Weeden could very well be a player that succeeds because of the system he's in.
With the installation of a new offensive coordinator, could Weeden see a decline in performance?
Assuming he's a raw talent player, Oklahoma will have to pound the Cowboy defense and score because this game will be true to form when they call it bedlam.