Previous Spring Preview Issues
Part Five: Spring Game Wrapup & Standouts
Part Four: The Defensive Back Seven
Part Three: The Trenches (Offensive and Defensive Lines)
Part Two: Offensive Skill Position Players
Part One: Who Is and Isn't Back, Exciting New Players
The Oklahoma Sooners will have arguably one of the toughest schedules in the country this season. Most of their "tough conference games" will be on the road, they will get Texas and BYU - two bowl teams - at neutral sites in Dallas, and have to travel to Miami. More on all of that later, but first, here is the schedule as it stands right now:
09/05/09 - vs. BYU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas
09/12/09 - vs. Idaho State in Norman, OK
09/19/09 - vs. Tulsa in Norman, OK
10/03/09 - vs. Miami at Dolphin Stadium in MIami, FL
10/10/09 - vs. Baylor in Norman, OK
10/17/09 - vs. Texas at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas Texas
10/24/09 - vs. Kansas at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas
10/31/09 - vs. Kansas State in Norman, OK
11/07/09 - vs. Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, Nebraska
11/14/09 - vs. Texas A&M in Norman, OK
11/21/09 - vs. Texas Tech at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas
11/28/09 - vs. Oklahoma State in Norman, OK
In all, the Sooners will take on 8 teams that went to bowl games last year, while playing 12 games in total (2 out of every 3 games will be against teams that were bowl eligible). Of their 4 non conference opponents, 3 went to bowls last season. The tough non-conference slate could be beneficial in the BCS calculations, if the Sooners should play their way into the discussion.
They will play a game every week except for on September 26th, when they will be idle and have an extra week to prepare for Miami.
And for the scariest fact of them all: the Sooners 6 road/neutral games will all be against a team that went to a bowl game last year.
We'll break down each game a little bit after the jump (click the link below)...
September 5th vs. Brigham Young
The Sooners will start their season away from home, playing against the BYU Cougars out of the Mountain West Conference at "Jerry World" (aka the new Cowboys Stadium). To be completely honest, I don't know a whole lot about their team other than that they had a whole lot of offensive firepower, but their defense probably kept them from bigger aspirations last year (record of 10-3). They will return QB Max Hall who was the pulse of the team. With him behind center, they will still be a dangerous team. After seeing what Utah did to Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, this is not a game to take lightly. However, believe it or not (believe it), there is little to no information available about the 2009 BYU team. No worries, we should get plenty of it leaking in over the summer, so we'll have a more in depth preview available by the first week of the season.
September 12th vs. Idaho State
Idaho State is the FCS opponent for the Oklahoma Sooners this year. Not only are they an FCS opponent, but they were one of the worst FCS teams last year (record of 1-11). I could take lots of time to dig up recruiting and preview information for an FCS team right now, but I won't. Instead, I'll just leave you with a picture of Idaho State's football field, which seems like an Arena Football venue:
September 19th vs. Tulsa
For those of you who are soccer fans, this is the "home leg" of the home and home series with Tulsa, so to speak. Oklahoma won the game at Tulsa in 2007 by a score of 62 to 21. Here's the highlight package for the nostalgic:
Oklahoma Vs. Tulsa 2007 (via mrjeffmaxwell)
The Golden Hurricane jumped out to an 8-0 start in 2008 but then stumbled down the stretch losing to Arkansas and Houston, and then getting beat in their bowl game by East Carolina. Tulsa lost their offensive coordinator who made the lateral move to Auburn in the offseason. This Houston Chronicle preview suggests that the high powered Tulsa offense was his brain child, and that the offense may have some growing pains without him. Also, to be noted, senior QB David Johnson graduated, leading a void at arguably the most important position on the field. However, it appears they have some talent behind him. I was unaware of this, but they had a 4-star QB recruit coming in this year by the name of Shavodrick Beaver. Tulsa also graduated their leading receiver and rusher (not the same guy either), but have some talent behind each one of them as well. The point is that the Tulsa offense will be younger and less experienced, and may have some growing pains. Without those parts, Tulsa is an average team in the grand scheme of things, but probably a contender in Conference USA.
October 3rd at Miami
Miami will be returning 15 starters total from last year, and the young team should have a quality extra year of experience from what they had last year. This game is concerning because it will be Oklahoma's first true road test (playing BYU a few hundred miles from home doesn't count). It's also concerning because Miami will be, as usual, extremely athletic, especially on the defensive end of the ball. The inexperienced Canes went into the Swamp last year and were in the game when the 4th quarter started (only down 9-3 to the national champs). I was impressed at the time by the intensity and quickness of their defense. Our offense will definitely need to be on top of their game, especially the offensive line. The offensive line and backs will need to be ready for frequent blitz pickups as well.
On offense, the Canes will be returning the talented duo of Graig Cooper and Javarris James. Sophomore Jacory Harris will have a year of experience under his belt, and he will have an arsenal of 4 extremely talented receivers who are also sophomores to throw to. Add in some more experienced receivers, and the Canes should have plenty of weapons on offense. I'm marking this game down on my calendar as one to be concerned about. I'm glad we'll have 3 games and 4 weeks on the schedule before this game.
October 10th vs. Baylor
Baylor should be on the rise with returning sophomore QB sensation Robert Griffin. Here's the Waco Tribune articulating why we should be concerned about Griffin:
Emerging as a major dual threat, Griffin completed 59.9 percent of his passes for 2,091 yards and 15 touchdowns while throwing just three interceptions. He also ran 173 times for 843 yards and a team-high 13 scores.
Alarmingly, Grififn thinks he can get faster:
"A lot of running is natural, but I can get quicker and improve my moves," Griffin said. "As a passer, I can work on my mechanics and throw the ball better. The more you work on it in drills, the more confident you become. I’m going to do whatever I can to make Coach Briles more confident in me whenever he calls a pass play."
Baylor should still have a talent gap to overcome with respect to the Sooners, but the linebackers will need to have an excellent game to contain Grififn. Luckily, I think the Sooners front seven on defense could potentially be the best in the country. Add to that the fact that the game will be in Norman, and my worries are quelled somewhat.
October 17th vs. Texas
The Red River Rivalry. What needs to be said? This may very well be the best rivalry going in college football (hint hint, I'll tackle that in another preview piece). Last year the game's result was final, but eventually embroiled in controversy with respect to the BCS standings. Unfortunately for Texas, you can't just eliminate a team arbitrarily (like Texas Tech) from a three way tie and then use the head to head tie breaker. Alas, it was left to some sports writers, coaches, and computers, and they chose the Sooners (who wouldn't?)
Plenty can be said about this game. Too much. There will be lots of things on the line. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it. Let's just say this could be the hardest fought, most physical, most electrifying and best game of the college football season this year, especially given the results last year and the heated rivalry between the two teams.
October 24th at Kansas
Kansas will still be a dangerous team. They gave OU everything they wanted and more in Norman last year when Dezmon Briscoe decided to shred the Sooner secondary for over 200 yards receiving. Most of the skill position players return on offense for Kansas, including undisputed leader Todd Reesing. If you need any proof, I refer you to this gritty performance last year:
For any further preview on Kansas right now, I'll refer you to SBNation Kansas blog Rock Chalk Talk, which does a pretty good job about just about everything. I'm moderately concerned about this game.
October 31st vs. Kansas State
Kansas State is a team in flux this year. They will have a new coach as Ron Prince was sacked in favor of K-State legend Bill Snyder. QB Josh Freeman is going to the NFL where he has the size and skills to be competitive at the next level. Here's a quick preview I found online, not much but I found this interesting:
The Wildcats lost their top two recruits — WR Andre Simmons and S David Batts — and watched their class rank near the bottom nationally.
That would be pretty alarming, and I would guess they wouldn't have too much depth then. We will learn something when they go play UCLA in Los Angeles in September, but I would bet this team is a couple of years away with Bill Snyder at the helm.
November 7th at Nebraska
Nebraska is a team on the rise. Bo Pelini has the team headed in the right direction. I won't waste any time previewing the Huskers when the SBNation Blog Corn Nation has already done a superb job doing so. Just navigate through their archives to find what you want. Here's the quarterback preview.
This game is in Lincoln against a tough team. I think that Nebraska's defense has to make the leap to being consistently good in order to give themselves a shot. The good news for the Sooners is that Joe Ganz graduated, so the Huskers will have a completely new quarterback. The bad news is that the new quarterback will have plenty of games to get adjusted. I'm somewhat worried about this game, but not quite as much as the Kansas or Miami games until Nebraska's quarterback (whoever he is) proves that he's the real deal. Tim Griffin of ESPN thinks they'll challenge for the North title.
Certainly the Huskers will be looking to avenge the spanking they got in Norman last season:
November 14th vs. Texas A&M
Texas A&M will be in their second year under Mike Sherman. I can't really find any preview information on them, but they will be relatively young, especially in the secondary (which can't bode well against a Heisman trophy winner). Jerrod Johnson returns at QB and he was actually remarkably efficient and mistake-free when given a chance. OU managed to stifle the Aggie offense in College Station last year, so late in the game Mike Sherman went with soon-to-graduate QB Stephen McGee.
I think that the Aggies will require another year of experience with a young core and then need a few recruiting coups to battle back up towards the top half of the South. This game is in Norman and I can't really dream up any ways to get too concerned yet.
November 21st at Texas Tech
All you'll hear through September and maybe even early October, with regards to Texas Tech, will be Michael Crabtree and Graham Harrell. They are gone to the NFL now, and so people will naturally doubt the talent of the Raiders offense. As Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast, my friend!".
Taylor Potts appears to be a capable quarterback and he had a pretty good stat line in Texas Tech's spring game. Here's a review by a blogger. What is true about the doubters' claims is that Texas Tech will need some playmakers to step up on offense.
Expect Texas Tech to naturally take a step back this year as they lost their two best players, but don't expect them to fade into oblivion either. Add to that that this game is in Lubbock, where funny stuff happens all the time, and the game is somewhat concerning at this point.
November 28th vs. Oklahoma State
I have no doubts at all that this will wind up being a huge game with some sort of big impacts. I'm not sure how just yet, but I suspect both teams will be in the top 3 of the South Division standings. Add to that the fact that it's the Bedlam rivalry, and anything could happen.
Oklahoma State will be looking for its first win in the series since 2002, and their first in Norman since 2001. This is the most lopsided rivalry in college football, and yet Oklahoma State will be undoubtedly talented this year. They'll return a lot of quality players, most notably QB Zac Robinson.
I could break down all the x's and o's, but here's the deal. It's a rivalry game and even though OU owns the series, the game is usually close. I suspect a relatively close game with a lot on the line. Luckily, the game will be in Norman. Here's Tim Griffin's review of their spring game.
In Summary: Concerning Games In Order
- vs. Texas (obviously) topping the list
- at Kansas
- vs. Oklahoma State
- at Miami
- at Texas Tech
- at Nebraska
- vs. BYU