Is Sam Bradford's Free Ride Over in 2009?

J. Robert ByromCorrespondent IJune 17, 2009

MIAMI - JANUARY 08:  Dustin Doe #32 and Ryan Stamper #41 of the Florida Gators celebrate a defensive stop on a 3rd down play as Sam Bradford #14 of the Oklahoma Sooners looks on dejected during the FedEx BCS National Championship game at Dolphin Stadium on January 8, 2009 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)

Sam Bradford has been electric during his first two years.

Actually, no freshman or sophomore has ever come within 30 TDs of his totals or led the Bowl Subdivision in passing rating his first two years. Despite having two full seasons of eligibility left, all Bradford needs to do to break the all-time record for touchdowns is repeat last year's production.

But last year, in both of Oklahoma's losses, Bradford had the ball late with a chance to make a final winning drive—and fell flat. Suddenly, that unstoppable offense, the one that broke 700 points for the first time in the AP era, was going three-and-out at the end of the Red River Rivalry.

The QB that seldom throws an interception throws one—and loses the biggest game of his life.

Many players in OU history would have been labeled harshly for losing to Texas or in a National Championship game, but Bradford has been the Teflon Don of the Sooners since his arrival.

While, admittedly, he has done little wrong, he has not received the criticism he deserves for what he has done wrong—choke under pressure. For a team that is currently defined by choking, you would expect more of an outcry from some of the most spoiled fans in the nation.

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So why hasn't Bradford been treated more harshly for his shortcomings during the biggest games?


He was an underclassman last year and a redshirt freshman the year before. He was given the keys to the kingdom way too early, and the fans gave him time to grow because they saw the potential—not only to be great, but to be one of the greatest ever.

However, that all changes this year.

Not only will Bradford be an upperclassman, but one with two full years of starting experience—one that has played in close games in Dallas and in a national championship. So do not expect the fans to be nearly as kind if he fails against Texas this year, or if the Sooners lose another BCS bowl.

Make no mistake about it, Bradford and the three other potential first rounders that decided to stay at Oklahoma returned for one reason: to win it all for their home state.

But Sam Bradford can expect much more criticism this year if they lose more big games at the end.

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