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SI - OU Has Nothing to Play For

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I enjoy reading Stewart Mandel but I have to take issue with one of his latest columns. Two and a half months away from kicking off the college football season Mandel says that the Sooners are one of the teams who have nothing to play for. In fact he even says that the Sooners don't even deserve to be mentioned with the likes of USC/LSU/Florida and (gulp) Texas.

He points out that Oklahoma lost Adrian Peterson and will be using a new quarterback this fall but his main reason for OU's downfall is Oklahoma's 55-19 loss to USC in the 2005 Orange Bowl. Apparently the loss was so humiliating that no one outside of the state of Oklahoma believes that the Sooners will ever deserve to be ranked #1 or #2 in the BCS again. This just in: After a consultation with Mandel the Ohio State Buckeyes have decided to disband their football team.

I love how people seem to overlook the fact that the Sooners are the defending Big 12 Champs. While I'm not ready to make reservations for New Orleans I'm also not making any for Shreveport either. I don't think the Big 12 will have a national championship team on the field this season but they will have contenders. OU, Texas and Nebraska could all find themselves playing for the title in January should they run the table and win the conference. So the question for the Sooners is not what prevents them from winning a national championship but rather what could prevent them from going undefeated?

Quarterback: Yes, OU will be debuting a new quarterback this season but that doesn't mean disaster. The Sooners will have possibly the best offensive line in the conference which will immensely help a young qb get established.

The other thing that the new Sooner quarterback will have in his corner is Malcolm Kelly. Great receivers make great quarterbacks. Montana had Rice, Marino had Clayton and Duper, Aikman had Irvin and so on down the line.

Whoever is under center for OU this fall will be a better passer that Paul Thompson but will have to make serious strides to attempt to equal his leadership.

Schedule:In conference Texas A&M comes to Norman as well as Missouri and Oklahoma State. The three big dates on the calendar for OU are September 8 (Miami, Fl), October 6 (Texas) and November 17 (at Texas Tech).  

The Sooners are a long way from having a cupcake schedule but should the run the gauntlet they'll be in consideration for a national championship.

Odd Year: Here's an interesting fact for you. Bob Stoops has won more Big 12 championships than any other coach in the conference (4) but none of them came in an odd number year. They were all even numbers 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006.

What will 2007 hold? Who knows but its way to early to write off one of the traditional power houses. Heck, even Texas A&M has a shot at this point!