Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops made the Sooners into a national powerhouse in the 2000s. Now, in 2014, he has a team that could win him a second national championship.
Stoops has been no stranger to winning in Norman, Oklahoma. In his 15-year tenure at the school, he has only three seasons in which his team did not win 10 or more games. In just his second year with the program, he won a national championship.
It’s no surprise that the Sooners are a top team this season – 47 of the 56 participating media members picked them to win the Big 12 before the season started. They were last year’s conference champion, too.
The team had plenty of question marks coming into the season, but they have been answered so far.
Sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight has not been incredible, but he has been more than good enough to get the job done. Freshman Samaje Perine ran for 242 yards and four touchdowns in his first conference game at West Virginia last Saturday.
The defense has allowed only 16.5 points per game. Trophies aren’t won in September, but the Sooners have played impressive football thus far. They beat SEC team Tennessee by 24 then went on the road and beat West Virginia in a very hostile environment. There’s nothing more to be asked from them.
The future schedule sets up well for Oklahoma. The three ranked teams that they have left on their schedule will all travel to Norman, where the Sooners have only lost five times in the Stoops era.
Oklahoma is a dangerous team who has the talent to make it to the inaugural College Football Playoff. Three-hundred and sixty-nine miles down the road across the Red River, Texas is already in trouble.
Head coach Charlie Strong’s first year has been a struggle. The Longhorns were picked to finish fourth in the conference and dominated defensively in their first game against North Texas. The bad news began shortly after the game was over and hasn’t stopped yet.
Texas’ starting quarterback David Ash sustained a concussion in the game that led to him to quit playing football. To add insult to injury, BYU scored 41 points to beat the Longhorns the next week.
On Tuesday, Strong dismissed starting right tackle Kennedy Estelle and has now kicked nine players out of the program since his arrival at the school.
Texas now enters its fourth game of the season with just one victory. If the tides don’t change in Austin, Texas, Strong could start to lose the confidence of his players.
Former coach Mack Brown had a different personality than Strong and recruited most of the players that are currently in the Longhorns’ locker room.
Of course, the damage that has been done so far could be reversed in just three weeks. After paying a visit to Kansas this weekend, Texas plays the best two teams in the Big 12 in Oklahoma and Baylor. They will host Baylor and travel to Dallas to renew the Red River Rivalry.
With a win in all three games, everyone would forget about the turmoil that the team has faced so far. On the contrary, it’s feasible that the team will drop to 2-4 after this three-game stretch.
Strong’s team will most likely take care of business in Lawrence, based on the talent level of the two teams. Unless Texas drastically changes course, the two games against top-10 opponents will result in a loss.
The Longhorns will be two losses away from being eliminated from bowl consideration if they end week eight at 2-4. That makes them pretty close to being irrelevant–something that the program has been on the brink of since 2010. The program hasn’t won more than 10 games since 2009, after having nine seasons with double digit wins.
Strong has the ability to write his own legacy at Texas. It will be clear after a couple of seasons whether he was the captain who saved a sinking ship or if he was just a failed experiment.