The quarterback battle between Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson will be front and center Saturday afternoon during Oklahoma's spring game.
As well it should be.
The Sooners haven't had to wonder who their quarterback was going to be since 2007. That's nearly unheard of stability in college football. For the first time in six years, the position is going to be filled by someone not named Bradford or Jones.
So, yes, this quarterback battle is a big deal.
It's a rare deal at OU, too. Quarterback competitions have been few and far between during Bob Stoops' tenure.
But as everyone scrutinizes every moment of every play trying to determine who will be named the starter, keep your eye on the veteran. Considering the man in charge, the job is almost sure to go to Bell.
Stoops tends to go with experienced guys at quarterback.
Just look at the evidence.
There have been four true quarterback battles in the Stoops Era.
In 2001, Nate Hybl and Jason White duked it out for the job. The competition lasted until mid-August when Hybl, a junior, edged out White, a sophomore, for the starting job.
(White ultimately took over for an injured Hybl, who ultimately got the job back when White tore his knee.)
In 2003, the Sooners had four guys vying for the quarterback job — White, Paul Thompson, Brent Rawls and Noah Allen — because White was recovering from his second knee injury. White was named the starter in the summer and went on to win the Heisman in the fall.
In 2005, Thompson and Rhett Bomar battled to replace White. Stoops ultimately picked Thompson, a junior, over Bomar, a redshirt freshman.
(After a shaky opener in a loss to TCU, Thompson was replaced by Bomar.)
In 2007, Sam Bradford beat out Joey Halzle and Keith Nichol in a quarterback battle that raged all the way into two-a-days. Bradford, a redshirt freshman, eventually beat out Halzle, a junior. While this was a case of the younger guy getting the nod, Bradford really wasn't that far behind Halzle, having been on campus only a semester less than the junior college transfer.
So, if you add all of that up, three of the four quarterback battles in the Stoops Era have gone the way of the veteran. Those older guys didn't always keep the job, but they were given the first chance to prove themselves.
So it will likely go with Bell.
He certainly has the upper hand in the experience department. Over the past two seasons, he has played in 20 games, mostly in the Belldozer set, and scored 24 rushing touchdowns.
What is rare for a backup quarterback at OU is that Bell's playing time hasn't been in mop-up duty but rather on some of the biggest stages. Last season, for example, Bell scored four touchdowns against Texas, then punched in a last-second score against Oklahoma State that sent the game to overtime.
That kind of experience is invaluable in a quarterback.
And Knight and Thompson have none of it. Neither the redshirt freshman nor the redshirt sophomore has taken even one snap in a game.
Does that mean they have no chance of winning the job? Certainly not, considering the Sooners' desire to have a more mobile quarterback. Both Knight and Thompson are faster and flasher than Bell, though the big fellow moves better than most 6-foot-6, 263-pound guys.
But there's no way around the fact that the Sooners under Stoops like to go with starting quarterbacks who have as much experience as possible. And if this quarterback battle is like others during this past decade-plus, Bell will start the opener against Louisiana-Monroe.
So, analyze the quarterbacks all you want Saturday afternoon. Scrutinize every throw and every run and every snap. Pick your favorite to win the job.
Just remember that Bell has an advantage that has nothing to do with how he performs in the spring game.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.