College Football Preseason Rankings 2011: Oklahoma Sooners Must Win It All

Eric PennellCorrespondent IIAugust 6, 2011

This is the year, right?
This is the year, right?Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The stars have aligned yet again for the Oklahoma Sooners football team, and I couldn't be more nervous. In Bob Stoops' tenure in Norman, this has happened only two other times—at least to this degree. Both of them ended in disaster.

In 2003, the team was being heralded as one of the greatest of all time, and no wonder, with such a stacked lineup: Jason White, Mark Clayton, Brodney Pool, Derrick Strait, Teddy Lehman—some of the greatest Sooners of all time.

The regular season went well, as we marauded through our schedule, outscoring our opponents 580 to 158 through the first 12 games. This included a 65-13 beat down of Texas and a 77-0 shellacking of Texas A&M.

But we all know what happened next. Darren Sproles is still running up and down Arrowhead Stadium, and we came up just short against LSU in a sloppy finish to what was supposed to be our eighth national title. The 12-2 final record was a massive disappointment.

Things looked eerily similar in 2009, with a roster loaded with studs and expectations through the roof. Sam Bradford was coming off a Heisman year, while Jermaine Gresham, Trent Williams and Gerald McCoy would join Sam in the first round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

We didn't have to wait until the Big 12 title game for the wheels to come off the Sooner Schooner. Karma had its way, as the bodies began to pile up early and often on the trainer's table. Gresham never played a snap, Bradford didn't even make it a full half of play and the offensive line was a mess, as Stoops was dragging people in from the stands to fill holes on the line.

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Our 5-4 record after nine games was Stoops' worst, and we failed to score a touchdown in a game (at Nebraska) for the first time since "Big Game" Bob came to town in 1999.

So here we are again. The Sooners are overwhelming preseason favorites, taking the number one spot in every major poll. The current roster may be a bit young, but their early playing time has helped them develop at an impressive rate. There are two Heisman candidates in Landry Jones and Ryan Broyles, alongside plenty of potential NFL talent.

This year is different. This year Stoops has to deliver. Another big flop, and he will be on the "warm" seat for the first time in his 13-year tenure. It has been a decade of ups and downs for the Sooner faithful, and it's high time it pays off.