Oklahoma football: Loss of offensive linemen does not impact Sooners' ranking

LSU hurt the worst in poll after defensive back Tyrann Mathieu gets boot from team
by Jason Kersey Published: August 19, 2012

NORMAN — The loss of one starting cornerback cost LSU the No. 1 ranking in The Associated Press preseason poll.

The loss of two offensive linemen, though, didn't keep Oklahoma from being ranked fourth.

Heck, one voter even ranked the Sooners No. 1 after seniors Ben Habern and Tyler Evans, with 59 career starts between them, were each lost for the season before it even started.

The coaches' poll was released Aug. 2, one day after Habern's career ended due to lingering back and neck problems, and one day before Evans tore his ACL on the first day of fall camp. OU was ranked No. 4 in that poll, also.

Before 2011 Heisman Trophy finalist Tyrann Mathieu was kicked off LSU's team a week ago, the Tigers had received 28 of a possible 60 first-place votes in the AP poll. But AP extended its voting deadline after Mathieu's dismissal, and when the final poll was released, LSU had dropped to third and lost 12 first-place votes.

The AP poll does not factor into the BCS Standings, which determine the national championship game matchup. The coaches' and Harris Interactive polls make up the human element in those standings.

So what can we make of OU's top-5 ranking, even after such significant losses on the offensive line? The Sooners did, of course, add Penn State refugee Justin Brown to its receiver corps, which has bolstered a unit one considered shaky because of suspensions (Jaz Reynolds and Trey Franks) and Kameel Jackson's dismissal.

Kyle Meinke of AnnArbor.com, who represents OU’s only No. 1 vote, said he did consider dropping the Sooners from his top spot after the offensive line injuries, but that the overall number of returning starters, a favorable schedule and team balance is why he still likes OU.

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by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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