The Sooners are close to returning to College Football’s elite in 2010. Al Dannity expects big strides by Oklahoma this season.
The schedule The first real test for the Sooners comes on September 11 when the Seminoles pay a visit to Norman. A trip to Cincinnati two weeks later will serve as a solid test ahead of the Red River Shootout (or Red River Rivalry depending on which you prefer) with Texas at the Cotton Bowl.
The rest of the Sooners slate looks quite manageable. Texas Tech could prove a wild card on November 13, depending on how Tommy Tuberville adapts to a school which has thrived in the air-raid offense. Oklahoma State will also prove a tough test at Stillwater, despite the substantial change in personnel endured by the Cowboys this season.
The players All eyes will be on Landry Jones in 2010. The quarterback looked promising when called on to replace Sam Bradford at short notice last season. Now with a year of experience under his belt and All-Big 12 receiver Ryan Broyles at his disposal, Jones looks set to have a big year. In all Oklahoma returns 9 starters on offense, including multi-purpose running back DeMarco Murray.
The reason I’m not putting Oklahoma higher up my rankings is the defense. The Sooners have just 5 returning starters, although 3 of them were All-Big 12 selections. Defensive end Jeremy Beal, linebacker Travis Lewis, and safety Quincy Carter will need to bring the rest of Oklahoma’s inexperienced defense up to their level. College Football betting fans should also take note of the departure of defensive tackle Gerald McCoy to the NFL.
The forecast The Sooners’ season all comes down to the game against Texas, as it so often does. Landry Jones and Garrett Gilbert of Texas could develop a fascinating rivalry over the next two or three years. While I like the Sooners offense to take a step forward in 2010, its defense will prove its undoing.
Without the experience of previous units, and the loss of McCoy’s production, Oklahoma will give up too many big plays at critical moments to beat Texas. I like the Sooners offense to make up the difference in most games and an 11-1 finish isn’t unthinkable. I don’t think Oklahoma will be consistent enough to only drop one game this season but I like the Sooners to finish 10-2 and earn an at-large bid to a BCS bowl this season.