FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Shortly after Oklahoma won a seventh national championship in 2000, coach Bob Stoops simply said, time to go to work on No. 8.
After two misses in the 2003 and 2004 national title games, the Sooners have another chance Thursday against Florida. But OU has the opportunity to achieve something grander than that. Win, and the Sooners break a four-way tie with Alabama, Ohio State and Southern California for second place in all-time national titles. Win, and the Sooners make a strong case for at least the second-greatest program in college football history, second only to Notre Dame. "I did a story for a national preview magazine about 15 years ago declaring Oklahoma the No. 1 program of all-time,” said ESPN.com columnist Pat Forde. "That might have been a stretch, putting the Sooners ahead of Notre Dame, especially given the periodic scandals in Oklahoma history. "But at the very least, I think Oklahoma is a defensible No. 2 — especially now that Bob Stoops has restored it to primacy. With a win here, Oklahoma is either a stronger No. 2 or a possible No. 1, if you want to argue it.” These Sooners have done nothing so far but augment that argument. OU became the first team in 104 years to score 700 points in a season. The Sooners are also averaging more points per game this year than any team in college football’s modern era. And last month, quarterback Sam Bradford became the school’s fifth Heisman Trophy winner, the second Sooner to earn the honor in five years. But while OU can bolster its all-time standing significantly with a victory, the downside to losing is just as precipitous. "Unfortunately, a lot of people live in the last 10 minutes,” said CBSSports.com columnist Dennis Dodd.