Unlike a year ago, when the Sooner schedule offered few anticipated challenges, the point has been made that this season’s sked serves up as many as seven potentially sticky Saturdays.
Key word: potentially. For as much as a justifiable July case can be made for those seven opponents – BYU, Miami, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State – each faces major preseason issues. And while, yes, OU has issues, too (the offensive line, wide receiver replacements, new safeties), the fact is the Sooners would stand as double-digit favorites over at least five of those foes today. And they’d likely be favored over the other two, Texas and OSU, too. So with conference media days rolling out across the land and preseason practices near, consider the serious story lines that will frame the season’s Saturdays. Sept. 5: BYU (Arlington, Texas). The Cougars have a stud quarterback in Max Hall (3,957 yards and 35 TDS passing in ’08) and eight starters back on defense. Like OU, they’re rebuilding on the offensive line and searching for reliable receivers. But enough of the comparisons. The Sooners are faster, deeper and, well, better. Oct. 4: at Miami. The ’Canes are hardly void of talent, but it’s largely unproven or unrealized. And while this would figure to be a much-anticipated matchup for The U, it might just be the hammer on a brutal opening stretch that sees Miami play at Florida State, home against Georgia Tech and at Virginia Tech. Oct. 17: Texas (Dallas). Along with all the normal agitation and emotion running wild in the Cotton Bowl, the Longhorns will carry in so much added baggage over being undone by the Big 12 tiebreaker.