Across the nation, programs yearn for 10-win seasons. But, at Oklahoma, the standard is measured in championships as 10-win seasons seem almost commonplace. Heading into the 2013 season, questions abounded not only as to what the offense would look like, but also as to who would step up on defense. It is no secret that this Sooners roster lacks 5-star talent, yet athleticism and speed are plentiful.
The first notable win of the season came against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish giving many fans a sense of false hope as they turned a blind eye to a majority of the problems and struggles. However, before facing a bitter rival in the Texas Longhorns, Oklahoma found a sting of bad luck. How were they able to recover and salvage a 10-win season culminating in a BCS Berth?
First and foremost, fans must take in to account the resiliency of this squad. Throughout the duration of a season, adversity takes many programs out of the national picture. Often, this occurrence of crises strikes at the most inopportune moments and OU is no exception to the rule. Midway through October, the Oklahoma Sooners stared misfortune square in the eyes.
During the off-season, questions consistently surfaced concerning the defense. Those questions found legitimacy once again during the season as the announcement that Corey Nelson would miss the remainder of the year due to a pectoral injury was released. Losing the heart and soul of any defense can prove to be costly but it was just the start of a handful of setbacks. The following week, Oklahoma received probably it's most detrimental news moving forward in that Jordan Phillips was suffering from back problems and would require surgery. The final result was a young and budding star being forced to miss a large chunk of conference play.
So it was back to square one and the Sooners were expected to slide backwards quite a ways. While the points allowed per game increased along with yards allowed per game, it must be noted that the level of competition also took a step up. However, none could fathom exactly what a few underclassmen were capable of in the absence of the more well known counterparts.
Some of the younger guys are playing are playing above their age. They're playing at a higher level than most young guys are expected to play. You lose two leaders and two impact players, but at the same time it shows you what we can do with the players we have right now. We're playing at a high level with those two guys gone, so imagine the possibility if they were still here. We're Oklahoma. We have pride. We have good players. Whoever is up to play has to be ready to step out there and make plays. - Chuka Ndulue
Dominique Alexander recorded 52 tackles through five games to become one the leading tacklers on this team of 75 on the year. Of course, the majority of his work was completed after Nelson's unfortunate injury. Jordan Wade has played nearly every snap on the latter half of the season without much attention, a good thing at his position.
Watching some of our younger players play Saturday, we have a lot of good players that just haven't had the opportunities. - Mike Stoops
On the opposite side of the ball, the Oklahoma Sooners have been susceptible to the quarterback roulette that has been well documented throughout the year. With all of these things factored into the equation, an 8-4 record was expected with hopes of going 9-3. Through the storm and against all odds, the Crimson & Cream has prevailed, securing a very improbable 10-win season while nabbing a spot in the BCS, something only nine other teams can claim.
Needless to say, I think anyone would take a 10 wins and a BCS Bowl in a "rebuilding" year. Credit the coaching staff for overcoming many of the hurdles early and placing players in the position to succeed. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, Mike Stoops and the defensive staff have breathed life into the on-the-field product. With a prolific secondary and an adequate front, this unit marks the best outing since 2009...injuries and all.
Ready to give this squad and more specifically the coaching staff, a bit more credit now?