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National title next in OU's crosshairs

by Berry Tramel Modified: January 2, 2011 at 6:34 pm •  Published: January 2, 2011

GLENDALE, Ariz. — One by one, the Sooners slew the demons.

Fourth quarter problems? Check. Oklahoma football, which once was defined by fourth-quarter excellence, found its way again with stellar play down the stretch against both Oklahoma State and Nebraska.

Road problems? Back-to-back road victories, at Baylor and Bedlam, put the Sooners in position to win another Big 12 championship.

Texas problem? A 28-20 victory over UT, before the Longhorns knew they stunk.

Close-game problems? Half of OU's 12 wins were decided by one possession. The Sooners were 6-0 in games decided by eight points or less; 3-0 in games decided by three points or less.

BCS problems? A Fiesta Bowl rout of Connecticut ended that five-game losing streak, and while yes, the Huskies were a sub-standard BCS team, 48-20 is what the Sooners should do to an inferior foe. And they did.

The only ghoul left to vanquish is the national championship problem.

The Sooners have lost three title games, a losing streak that can be difficult to break, because getting the chance is a monumental undertaking.

It's like Bob Stoops said earlier in Fiesta Bowl week: they don't drop names out of a hat. You've got to earn your way to the Big Bowl, and you've got to perform once you get there.

So while the paramount question for the Sooners most of 2010 was, can they win a top-heavy Big 12, the question for 2011 centers solely on the national crown.

The possibility exists, despite a schedule that includes road trips to Tallahassee, Dallas, Manhattan, Waco and Stillwater.

Loads of talent returns. Landry Jones and a solid offensive line. Young, exciting receiver/runners. Salty secondary. Linebackers, d-linemen. No holes are apparent on the 2011 Sooners.

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