The 2010 college football season ended with the Oklahoma Sooners winning the Fiesta Bowl, the Oklahoma State Cowboys winning the Alamo Bowl and the Tulsa Golden Hurricane won the Hawaii Bowl. All three state schools finished in the final AP Top 25 Poll with a combined record of 33-7. As good as last year was for college football in the state of Oklahoma, 2011 could be even better.
The Sooners are the favorites to win the Big 12 and one of the frontrunners in the BCS championship hunt. Oklahoma returns nine offensive starters including Heisman candidate Landry Jones at quarterback. OU has to find a suitable replacement for running back DeMarco Murray. If they're able to do that then the offense could resemble the record breaking unit we saw in 2008.
Oklahoma At A Glace
2010 Record: 12-2
Returning Starters: Offense 9/Defense 7
Key Losses: DeMarco Murray (RB), Cameron Kenney (WR), Eric Mensik (OT), Jeremy Beal (DE), Quinton Carter (FS), Jonathan Nelson (SS)
Offensive Player To Watch: Receiver Ryan Broyles
Defensive Player To Watch: LB Travis Lewis
Toughest Road Game: September 17th at Florida State
Toughest Home Game: November 5th against Texas A&M
Defensively the Sooners are breaking in two new safeties and the first team to test them will be Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane return ten offensive starters from a unit that averaged 41.4 points per game, a total that was good enough to rank 6th in the nation. The big question for Tulsa is going to be the improvement of their defense. In 2010 they ranked 85th in the nation in scoring defense. They'll give Oklahoma's secondary a good test and will have the offensive firepower to win a shootout against any other team in Conference USA but to eclipse last year's 10-3 record they'll need a drastic improvement on defense.
Tulsa At A Glace
2010 Record: 10-3
Returning Starters: Offense 10/Defense 9
Key Losses: Jamad Williams (TB), Trae Johnson (WR), Charles Clay (FB), Odrick Ray (DL), Tanner Antle (LB), Charles Davis (CB)
Offensive Player To Watch: Quarterback G.J. Kinne
Defensive Player To Watch: LB Marco Nelson
Toughest Road Game: September 3rd at Oklahoma
Toughest Home Game: September 17th against Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State made history last season by winning 10 games in the regular season and then added to that with a bowl win. Some of the luster of their magical season was lost on fans who lived in the disappointment of another Bedlam loss causing them to fall just a game shy of reaching the Big 12 Championship. With 10 returning starters on offense there's no reason to expect anything less in 2011. The lack of a conference championship game makes it that much easier to win a championship.
This could be a record breaking season for Oklahoma State's offense but replacing five starters on defense could end up taking its toll. Still though, there's no reason to expect anything less than a BCS bowl birth even if they don't win the Big 12.
Oklahoma State At A Glace
2010 Record: 11-2
Returning Starters: Offense 10/Defense 6
Key Losses: Kendall Hunter (RB), Dan Bailey (K), Chris Donaldson (DT), Shane Jarka (DT), Ugo Chinasa (DE), Orie Lemon (LB), Justin Gent (LB), Andrew McGee (CB)
Offensive Player To Watch: Receiver Justin Blackmon
Defensive Player To Watch: LB Shaun Lewis
Toughest Road Game: September 24th at Texas A&M
Toughest Home Game: December 3rd against Oklahoma
When the dust settles on the season the state of Oklahoma could be the home to the Big 12 and Conference USA champions as well as two BCS bowl teams. Obviously we've already picked the Sooners to win the conference but should Oklahoma end up in the BCS championship game it would open the door for Oklahoma State to get their first BCS bowl bid should the only have one or two losses on their record.