The first of the major preseason rankings are out and we’re not talking Phil Steele or Athlon. The Buddy Poll, also referred to as the Coaches Poll, released on Friday with the Sooners sitting at #3. I think that it’s a bit unrealistic to have expected OU to be #1. The question now we’re faced with is did Oklahoma deserve to #2? I realize that this isn’t going to be the popular answer but I’m going to go ahead and say that they didn’t.
By way of being the defending national champions the Florida Gators should be atop every poll until someone knocks them off. When you have teams returning core nucleuses like the Sooners, Gators and Longhorns have then the way the previous season ended absolutely should play a factor in the preseason polls. The Longhorns ended their season with a lackluster 24-21 win over OhioState in the Fiesta Bowl. However, to their credit they did win. Going into the bowl season there were three teams in the hunt for the national championship. The Gators were a lock and the controversy was between the Sooners and Longhorns. Had the bowl games just been an extension of the `08 season then the following week would have found the Longhorns comfortably in front of the Sooners.
So now we’re faced with the question of whether OU deserves the #3 spot. The answer is a simple and resounding, absolutely! USC stands behind Oklahoma at #4 followed by Alabama at #5. Neither of those schools is returning a core like the top three. The Trojans are breaking in a new quarterback and only have three returning starters on defense and the Tide face the same issue at quarterback with just four returning offensive starters. If Alabama runs the SEC gauntlet then they’ve got nothing to worry about because they’ll be playing in Pasadena on January 7th. As for the Trojans, as long as they are playing in a conference that gets owned by the Mountain West then they are just going to have to wait in line for someone else to falter.
So back to Oklahoma at #3, I’m fine with it. We all know that this team is going to have to work out a few kinks before they are firing on all cylinders. Sitting at #3 there won’t be the expectations placed on them as there would should they be #1 or #2. The microscope just won’t be as intense as it would otherwise which means less pressure. Besides that with a non-conference schedule that includes BYU, IdahoState, Miami and Tulsa, the Sooners will have ample opportunity to move past a Texas team that faces UL Monroe, Wyoming, Texas Tech and UTEP during the same time span. You’ve got to figure that BYU and Miami will bring OU more exposure than any two of Texas’ first four games. It not then it’ll be settled in the Cotton Bowl on October 17th.
Starting the season at #3 is just enough to give the Sooners that confident swagger of a top ranking while leaving a chip on their shoulders and leaving room for improvement. I say it’s a good spot.