As the 2013 Oklahoma Sooners start play they will do so with a very different look than the previous several of seasons. The Sooners will have to replace Landry Jones who was the leader and starting quarterback of the Sooners for the past three seasons.
Jones is the all-time leader in wins at the quarterback position for Oklahoma and replacing his leadership and control of the offense will be a key in how well the Sooners perform in 2013.
The Sooners will also have to navigate through a transition on the defensive side of the ball as they only return four starters from last year's defense.
The Sooners' expectations in 2013 will not be at their usual national championship level, but a Big 12 title is still well in reach.
The Sooners will look to first-year starter Blake Bell to lead the way in 2013. Bell was used the past two seasons in short-yardage and goal line situations.
Bell's role for Oklahoma the past two seasons was much the same as Tim Tebow's was for Florida in 2006 when they won the national title. The comparisons between Bell and Tebow have been made numerous of times.
The body frame of each player is about the same, running ability about the same and their throwing ability was the huge question mark. If Bell turns out anything near Tebow, then Oklahoma fans will be quite happy with their new quarterback in 2013.
Bell rushed for 11 touchdowns in 2012 and will have to use his running ability to help offset his inexperience in his passing game this season. The quarterback is always the crucial position for every team and the success of a team usually always rides on how well the quarterback performs. That will be no different with the 2013 Oklahoma Sooners as they look to transition to the type of offensive game that best suites Bell.
The schedule for Oklahoma in 2013 seems pretty favorable for a new quarterback transitioning into a full time starting role. The Sooners first three games ULM, West Virginia and Tulsa are all in Norman, Oklahoma which should all be three victories for the Sooners.
The first test of the year will be September 28 when the Sooners travel to South Bend to face the Irish. Last year the Irish stunned the Sooners in Norman beating them 30-13. Oklahoma now has to travel to South Bend with revenge on their mind from last season's contest.
The Oklahoma Sooners then play two of the Big 12 favorites entering 2013 the TCU Horned Frogs and Texas Longhorns. The Horned Frogs are the favorites to win the Big 12 according to most. The Sooners will have the advantage by having TCU come to Norman this season.
The Horned Frogs lost 24-17 last year to Oklahoma, but this year may be the year TCU gets the best of Oklahoma. The Sooners then play the annual Red River Rivalry in Dallas, Texas. The Sooners beat the Longhorns last year 63-21 in a game that was an absolute embarrassment from start to finish for Texas.
This year the Longhorns will more than likely be the favorites entering this year's contest. The Sooners have won the past three meetings in the Red River Rivalry and will look to make it a fourth straight on October 12.
The Sooners will finish up the 2013 regular season with road games at Kansas State and at Oklahoma State. The Wildcats are also losing one of their historically best quarterbacks in program history Colin Klein.
Klein for Kansas State, much in the same way Jones with Oklahoma, will be huge shoes to fill in 2013. Oklahoma will have a tough time having to travel to Manhattan, Kansas, at the end of November if Bell hasn't made major progress by this time of the season.
The Sooners will wrap up their season with Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Oklahoma. Last year's version of Bedlam was a classic for the ages as the Sooners edged out the Cowboys 51-48 in overtime. This year the Cowboys will be the favorites to beat the Sooners and one of the favorites to win the Big 12.
The Cowboys return eight starters on offense and seven on defense in 2013. This experience will play a huge factor in how this game plays out and the game being in Stillwater should benefit the Cowboys even more this year. The Sooners will have to play a near perfect game to come out on top against Oklahoma State in this year's version of Bedlam.
The 2013 Sooners are a team in rebuilding mode. The play of first year starter Bell will be the key factor in how well Oklahoma finishes in the Big 12 standings and national polls at seasons end.
I feel Oklahoma will have a 9-3 season, but finish in the top half of the Big 12 standings. This year will be a new one for Oklahoma fans after seeing three years of success from Jones. Oklahoma will always be a factor in the Big 12 and in the national picture, but this year just want be a year where they are contending for a national title berth like in season's past.