Oklahoma University football is back and appears to be better than almost every team in the country this season.
Boomer Sooner rides again!
As there are those of us who remember the likes of Billy Simms, Steve Williams, Batty Switzer and the Oklahoma/Nebraska rivalry over Thanksgiving weekend, let us take time to thank Bob Stoops for making Oklahoma another powerhouse in college football. And to think it took a win over Oklahoma State and then Alabama in the Sugar Bowl to get our juices flowing again about how great a program this was and still is.
Can Stoops, who worked his magic late last season, bring another national title to Norman this season? Only time and a tough Big 12 schedule will prove if he has the guns and the horses to get it done this year. Of course, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas, FSU, Alabama, Auburn, Ohio State, Michigan State and Oregon may all have something to say about that when all is said and done.
But in case you were wondering, here are five reasons the Sooners can win it all in 2014-15.
And of course, Athlon Sports was there to help us along the way.
Everything must fall into place
There are 16 starters which return to Norman this season. The team is also running on momentum form the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama – a game we all wanted to be between The Crimson Tide and Ohio State. Just like Florida State last season, the stars will align and make it a special season for the Sooners.
A Knight’s tale
The victory over the Crimson Tide provided plenty of offseason momentum and showcased the development of quarterback Trevor Knight. The sophomore is the x-factor for Oklahoma in 2014. If Knight takes the next step in his development, his emergence will add to a team that has one of the nation’s top defenses, as well as a favorable path to an undefeated record.
The three-headed monster at quarterback is no more.
Defense, defense, defense
All Bob Stoops does each season is put together a defense that can win championships. Now, he must do it again. The front seven projects to be among the best in the Big 12, if not the nation. On the line, there’s talent and depth, headlined by first-team All-Big 12 end Charles Tapper, who produced 5.5 sacks a year ago as a sophomore. Linebacker may be the team’s greatest strength, starting with Eric Striker, who led OU with 6.5 sacks and 10.5 tackles for a loss.
There is a mentality in Norman of who is next in line as a great playmaker. Sophomores Alex Ross and Keith Ford are former premium prospects working to earn the feature running back role, yet both will have to hold off incoming freshman and five-star recruit Joe Mixon — a tantalizing combination of speed and power. Sterling Shepard gives the Sooners a proven and productive receiver who’s ready to thrive as the primary target. Beyond Shepard, inexperience is a concern, although coaches are confident reliable receivers will emerge, including at tight end, which gets renewed emphasis in the passing game.
Could this be FSU in 2014? Outside of Florida State, the team with the easiest path to an unbeaten record among programs in a power conference has to be Oklahoma. The Sooners host Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Baylor and play Texas in Dallas. The toughest road games would appear to be against West Virginia and TCU, as well as a matchup at Texas Tech one week after hosting Baylor. Without a tough non-conference game or road date against a top-25 team for 2014, the Sooners have a favorable path to college football’s playoff.