Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Nightmare in Norman

I would have laughed at anyone who told me that at this point in the season, the Oklahoma Sooners would be 1-2 and out of the Top 25 for the first time since 1999. It's Oklahoma, right? They're not supposed to lose to TCU at home, barely sqeak by Tulsa and then get it handed to them by UCLA at the Rose Bowl. Oklahoma was a consensus Top 10 team to the begin the season and looked poised for a 3-0, at worst 2-1, start. The number ten became an enemy in Norman on September 3rd when the Sooners could muster only ten points to TCU's 17 and lost at home in September for the first time under Stoops. Things didn't improve a great deal in week two as the Sooners struggled to put away Tulsa, a team that had been ambushed by Minnesota at home in week one. The Sooners scored 31 on the Golden Hurricane but needed a touchdown to extend and protect a 17-15 lead late in the third quarter. Rhett Bomar, cited for underage drinking earlier in the week, was once again unimpressive and Paul Thompson, the starter in week one, wasn't any better. The Sooners' passing game was so anemic against Tulsa that they didn't attempt a pass play the entire second half. The Sooners then surprised few when UCLA defeated them 41-25 last week to drop Oklahoma to 1-2, their worst start in years. Bomar was improved, going 20 of 29 for 241 yards and no interceptions and a rushing TD. The Sooners up to this point remind me of the 2000 Penn State team that finished 5-7. After losing to Southern Cal in the Kickoff Classic to open the season, the Lions lost an embarassing game, 24-6 to Toledo. That was the day Penn State football hit rock bottom and still hasn't fully recovered. The Sooners' first three performances certainly don't give anyone confidence that this team can turn the corner in the Big 12. The only sure wins on OU's Big 12 slate are Kansas, in Kansas City, and Baylor at home. Oklahoma State has played the Sooners tough in Norman, Texas Tech looks like they can score 40 on anyone, Texas is widely recognized as the second best team in the country, Texas A&M will be seeking revenge, the Sooners travel to Lincoln to renew they rivalry with Nebraska and they draw Kansas State at home to open the Big 12 schedule. To reach a bowl game Oklahoma will need to finish 5-3 in the conference. To be honest, I don't think they're up to it. Adrian Peterson can't be the entire offense and Travis Wilson is Bomar's only reliable receiver. 4-4, wins against Kansas State, Kansas, Baylor and Oklahoma State seem like probable victories but if Nebraska improves even marginally, the Huskers should be able to handle OU's rather one dimensional offensive attack. From the early games, the Sooners look like a 5-6 team. 5-6 was the exact record I first thought of as I watched them lose to TCU. Obviously it is far too early to panic in Norman but if the Sooners don't come out and make a statement against Kansas State, they will get rolled over by Texas in Dallas and find themselves at 1-4 headed to Kansas City. If I'm a Sooners fan right now, I'm very nervous. How could Jason White and Mark Clayton possibly have meant so much to this offense?


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