Berry Tramel: OU, OSU expectations could soar out the window real fast

by Berry Tramel Published: August 4, 2011

The Sooners are No. 1 in college football's first preseason poll that matters. The Cowboys are No. 8, their highest preseason ranking ever.

Revelry reigns. Expectations soar. Bedlam Nation combined, this might be the most anticipated year ever.

Or at least since 2009. Yep. Brand me a party-pooper. I can't deny it. But before we go too far mapping parade routes for historic seasons, don't forget two seasons ago.

OU No. 3 in the preseason, with a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback returning in Slingin' Sammy B and star power galore. OSU No. 9 and No. 11 in the preseason polls, with Zac Robinson taking aim at his coach for greatest Cowboy QB ever, Dez Bryant a wunderkind wide receiver and Kendall Hunter an all-American tailback.

You know what happened next. Jermaine Gresham's knee went kaput, and he never played in crimson again. Bradford's shoulder was separated first against BYU and then against Texas, ending his Oklahoma days. Dez ran afoul of NCAA lie detectors and was ruled ineligible; he missed the season's final 10 games. Robinson suffered a concussion late in the season, and OSU limped home with seven points total in Bedlam and the Cotton Bowl.

OU finished 8-5. OSU 9-4. The Cowboys slipped to No. 25 in the coaches poll. The Sooners dented neither poll.

So go crazy, folks, but remember there are no guarantees.

“It's an honor to be ranked No. 1 any time, but we understand that the preseason ranking means very little compared with what it will mean months from now,” Bob Stoops said.

True enough. Stoops' Sooners were No. 1 in 2003 and remained there when December arrived. Then came championship-game losses to Kansas State (Big 12) and LSU (Sugar Bowl).

Barry Switzer's Sooners were preseason No. 1 a whopping six times in 16 years, and three of those teams persevered, winning national titles in 1974, 1975 and 1985.

Believe it or not, Bud Wilkinson teams were preseason No. 1 just twice, 1956 and 1957. Don't ask me how you can take a 19-game winning streak into a season (1955), with your quarterback returning alongside Jerry Tubbs and Tommy McDonald, and not be preseason No. 1, but hey, it all worked out. The Sooners kept the No. 1 ranking in '56; they lost it in '57.

So that's a pretty good track record of high expectations in Soonerville. And Stoops is embracing the expectations, as you might have heard.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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