National contender status is nothing new for OU. Still, 2008 is lining up as ripe for a major run at title No. 8 for the Sooners.
Five reasons why:
1. Experience. The Sooners return 14 starters, at least half of whom are contenders for college football's major awards. Beyond the starting lineups, there's proven players in backup roles, meaning a bulk of the two-deep has played on back-to-back Big 12 title teams. So they know what it takes.
2. Schedule. Look at the 12-game run awaiting the Sooners and try to find a spot where you'd expect them to lose. As of today, OU would be favored in every game, by at least a touchdown more than likely. Texas? The Longhorns lack playmakers to keep up. Tech? Not in Norman. At OSU? It's been dicey of late in Stillwater, but can the Cowboys defense be that improved? Only Missouri, in a Big 12 championship matchup with a bunch of black and gold filling the stands in Kansas City, would appear to pose a real threat.
3. Offensive skill. We're three reasons in and we haven't even mentioned Sam Bradford. Or DeMarco Murray. Or Jermaine Gresham. Or Juaquin Iglesias. Or... oh, you get the point. The Sooners are loaded on offense with weapons in every spot. With Bradford a year wiser at the controls, it should be quite a show.
4. Lines in the sand. We've heard it before, but take note again: football games are won in the trenches. The Sooners own the trenches. Their lines offensive and defensive are the best in the Big 12 and rank among the nation's elite.
5. Motivation. The Sooners have failed to finish the past two seasons, leaving the Fiesta Bowl bummed out and left to answer questions of what went wrong. Get to know the acronym WTLG Win The Last Game. The Sooners have already trotted it out.
By John Helsley