By John Helsley and Jake Trotter Modified: August 4, 2008 at 10:49 am •  Published: August 4, 2008
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Can we expect No. 8 in '08? Some numbers would figure to provide ongoing indicators.

Five benchmarks:

1. Good health. It's the same for any team dreaming of the crystal football don't get your stars hurt. For OU, that goes double for Bradford, who stuck his head where it shouldn't have been in Lubbock last year and the Sooners paid dearly. From Kelly and Murray and Ryan Reynolds last year, to Adrian Peterson the previous year, injuries have been an unwelcome factor for OU.

2. Murray runs for 1,200. As a redshirt freshman, Murray hesitated at times running between the tackles. Coaches hope he's matured into more of an every-down back, even if they do have reliable Chris Brown available to hammer inside. A 1,200-yard rushing year out of Murray means the offense is balanced and humming.

3. Reynolds starts 14. The linebacker position is in transition, with the oft-injured Reynolds the only veteran presence. The Sooners need him healthy, making tackles and providing leadership. A season that features 14 starts by Reynolds would bode well for a defense that comes off awfully raw without him.

4. Bradford throws 30 TDs. Yes, Bradford tossed 36 scoring passes as a redshirt freshman a year ago. And he could do that and more again. But 30 should be the target, under the assumption that the running game is humming (see No. 2 above) and the Sooners show brilliant balance on offense.

5. 8-0. What, not 14-0? The Sooners are dominant at home under Bob Stoops 54-2 overall. While OU's record outside Norman under Stoops, 43-20, isn't bad, the difference is clear and somewhat to be expected. It's tougher to win on the road. All three of OU's setbacks last season came away from Owen Field. Stand 8-0 away from home at season's end and they'll be accounting for another championship year on the scoreboard.

By John Helsley


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