Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops has always hated looking ahead, especially when talks start surfacing about championships. However, he has to at least feel happy when his players believe they are good enough to win a national title, as long as they don’t let it go to their heads. In a recent interview, Gabe Ikard actually said he felt this team was good enough to at least contend for the national title.
That is disagreeable.
The Oklahoma Sooners have finished their non-conference play undefeated. They knocked off Notre Dame last week, their biggest competitor in those games. They have already won a Big 12 game by beating the West Virginia Mountaineers.
This week, they have the TCU Horned Frogs at home. Then, who stands in their way? The Texas Longhorns are a team struggling to pick up a win against the Iowa State Cyclones. Fans in Austin are actually calling for Mack Brown to quit. The Oklahoma State Cowboys were supposed to be good this season, but already lost to West Virginia, a team that OU already knocked off.
Kansas State has lost twice, once to Texas and once to North Dakota State. Quick – name the conference that North Dakota State plays in.*
Texas Tech is always dangerous. They beat up TCU and sit in the 20th spot in the current polls. OU has them on the road as well, so that is a tough game. Baylor is also undefeated and have scored no less than 69 points in every game this season. Read that again. The Baylor Bears have scored 69 points in their first game and 70 in their next two. That is who OU really has to worry about.
Kansas and Iowa State are Kansas and Iowa State.
That is the road that OU travels to reach the BCS and the Fiesta Bowl as the Big 12 Champion. However, if OU can get past Texas Tech and Baylor, and not stumble in a rivalry game with OSU or Texas, they could still finish undefeated. The road is not as hard as – say – having to play Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina all in the same season.
Yes, an undefeated Oklahoma Sooners team still ranks 11th in the AP poll, 10th in the Coaches poll and would start the BCS rankings in 8th place. In the AP poll, there are three one-loss teams ranked ahead of OU, showing that the Sooners and the Big 12 are not respected. If OU wants to play for the national title, they need to prove they are better than Georgia and Texas A&M, and prove they are better than the undefeated teams ahead of them who still might lose.
It’s true that a one-loss Sooners team might miss out on the national title game against a one-loss SEC team, but it is not impossible. OU just has to start playing lights out. They need to play like they did against Notre Dame when they face Texas Tech and Baylor.
But, I wouldn’t call their chances slim. There is always the Fiesta Bowl.
Follow Shawn S. Lealos on Twitter @sslealos
* Missouri Valley