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Historical Perspective

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Okay, I'll admit it, I was pretty annoyed with our offensive playcalling after the Red River Shootout. However, I've had a chance to step back, take a deep breath, and examine some statistics. This process usually has a calming influence on me, unless I'm looking at statistics for our basketball team. 

The one thing that caught my eye was this little factoid from the game notes from

For the seventh time under Bob Stoops, the Sooners started the season at 5-0. OU started 5-0 in 2008, 2004, 2003, 2002 and 2000. Those teams combined for 72 wins, five Big 12 Championships and one National Championship.

Intrigued, I took a further look into this, and the results surprised me. They follow, after the break.

Since 1950, Oklahoma teams that have started the season 5-0:

  • Have played in 4 BCS National Championship Games (out of the 6 total times they did this in the BCS era).
  • Have won 6 of their total 7 national titles. The lone exception was where they had an early loss in 1985 to Miami in Norman.
  • Have never lost more than 3 games in any of those seasons.

Amazingly, even if you include the seasons where they didn't win a national title, they average 10.4 wins in seasons where they start 5-0. This improves to 11.7 wins if you only consider the Stoops era, when the schedule involved more games. Their average win percentage in such seasons is 0.923, which would correspond to roughly an 11-1 record in today's scheduling. 8 of the 18 teams that went 5-0 to start the season finished the regular season undefeated. Another 6 finished the season with only 1 loss, meaning that about 78% of the 5-0 starters would probably qualify for a BCS Bowl Game in a regular year.

I'm starting to like our odds.

Additionally, of the 14 teams that started 5-0 and played in a postseason game, 9 of them won their postseason game, including 3/6 in Bob Stoops' tenure.

Basically, Sooner teams that have started 5-0 have been very good teams. This is certainly something that I'll be keeping in the back of my head when I assess their "struggles" so far.

This Oklahoma team has the distinction of starting 5-0 and beating Texas, something that the 2008 team didn't do. Therefore, this is the first team to accomplish that feat since 2004. In fact 5 consecutive teams did this with Bob Stoops as head coach from 2000 to 2004, with 3 national championship game appearances, and 1 crystal ball.

Despite all these facts, this is not an extremely common occurrence. It's happened in exactly 30% of the seasons since 1950. Those teams just happened to be very, very good. In the seasons they didn't start 5-0, the average win total was only 7.4 wins, a difference of about 3 wins. 

Of course, despite all of this sunshine pumping, the fact remains that our team still has issues to resolve if they want to get anywhere near a BCS Bowl Game. The good news is that the Sooners don't have to play anyone that isn't ranked higher than #15 currently.

What do you think? Is this a historical trend that matters, or does it have no context to the team we have currently?