There are two games on Oklahoma's schedule that really make my stomach queasy when I look at them. One of them is when the University of Miami comes to Norman on September 8th and the other is the annual OU/Texas showdown at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on October 6th.
What makes me nervous is that these are the two biggest games on the schedule for the Sooners and they literally could go either way. Scout.com's Pete Fiutak agrees with me on the measure of the games and has them ranked in #13 and #3 respectively in his Top 50 Games of the Season. He has also looked into his crystal ball and seen OU victories in both games.
What bothers me most about the Miami game is that OU could still be unsettled at quarterback. North Texas, the week before, could be a good indicator of how the new signal caller is going to fair but then again it could not be if there are still two quarterbacks in the mix.
However, Fiutak seems to think that it will be the Sooner defense leading the way to victory.
Fine, so Miami might not be Miami like it was a few years ago, but this is still one of the most interesting non-conference matchups of the year. Considering how good the two programs have been over the last few decades, it seems like they should've met up in a bowl game or two, but they haven't met since Miami won the 1988 Orange Bowl. The Canes have won three in a row over the Sooners, including the classic 1986 Vinny Testaverde game, and a 27-14 battle in 1985, when Miami defensive star Jerome Brown broke OU quarterback Troy Aikman's leg, leading to the emergence of option-wizard Jamelle Holieway, who led the team to eight straight wins and the national title. It'll be a tremendous battle of the fantastic OU offensive line and the great Miami defensive line, and the loaded Sooner receiving corps and the great Hurricane secondary, but it'll be the surprising play of a questionable OU defensive line that'll win an occasionally sloppy defensive game.
Predicted score in July: Oklahoma 19 ... Miami 13
As far as the OU/Texas game goes I feel that I have every right to be nervous because, well, it's OU/Texas. The Horns have won two in a row and every steer victory diminishes the five game winning streak the Sooners enjoyed from 2000-2004. Again Fuitak attempts to calm my fears because he believes that the Sooner offense will be better than the Longhorn defense.
The rivalry is back on in a big way. From 2000 to 2004, the question was whether or not Texas, and more specifically, Mack Brown, could beat an OU program that returned to national prominence under Bob Stoops. After a dominant 45-12 spanking in 2005, Texas finally broke the hex, but there was a little bit of a "yeah, but" about it. Yeah, Texas won, but Adrian Peterson was banged up and Brown had Vince Young to carry the team. All Longhorn concerns stopped last year with a 28-10 win, but while Texas won the battle, OU won the war, reeling off six straight wins for the Big 12 title. This year, both teams are loaded with each good enough to win the national title. The Sooners will get Miami in Norman early on, but shouldn't be tested in the other four games and should come in 5-0. Texas will have a nasty landmine in TCU to sidestep, and a revenge date with Kansas State to deal with, but it should also be 5-0. Texas has the quarterback edge and will be stronger in the defensive front seven, but OU will have the far better offensive line and far, far better secondary. The Sooner front five will control the tempo and get the running game going, while the secondary will do a better job on the insanely good Texas receiving corps than the Texas secondary will do on the insanely good OU receiving corps. This will be when OU makes a statement that it'll be in the hunt for the national championship all season long.
Predicted score in July: Oklahoma 23 ... Texas 17
If the Sooners walk out of the Cotton Bowl 6-0 after beating Texas then anything becomes a possibility at that point, most notably a trip to New Orleans in early January. I just wish my crystal ball was as clear!