NORMAN â€” Here's what we know about Oklahoma â€” it has won 10 games, it is the Big 12 South champion, and it is playing for the conference crown Saturday night.
Here's what we're still wondering â€” how good the Sooners really are.
This has been an up-and-down bunch throughout this season. There have been impressive wins and imposing stretches, but there have also been disastrous losses and disappointing performances. So, on a weekend when the Sooners have a chance to win yet another Big 12 title and play in yet another BCS bowl, we are still left to wonder about this team.
Is it the squad that went to Stillwater last week and beat its toughest opponent in the most hostile environment it has encountered this season?
Or is it the team that collapsed like a cheap chair in Columbia and College Station?
The truth is, those losses have turned OU into what it is â€“ a pretty darn good team.
â€œI'm really excited how we're playing,â€ Sooner coach Bob Stoops said. â€œIn all parts of the game, we've been very good and solid.â€
Notice the words he used.
Those adjectives don't describe these Sooners. This is not the 2000 squad with the lights-out defense. This is not the 2008 team with the high-octane offense. But that doesn't mean this edition of the Sooners is a bad team.
The descriptors that Stoops used â€” very good and solid â€” seem fitting.
The defense has been very good.
Consider what it has done the past three weeks. It held Texas Tech to a touchdown. It gave up 24 points at Baylor, but a pair of touchdowns came after OU had a 40-point lead and a heavy dose of reserves on the field. Then, it held Oklahoma State's high-octane offense to 27 points.
And remember, this is a bunch that has played short-handed much of the season. Adrian Taylor is gone. Daniel Noble, Casey Walker, Austin Box and Ronnell Lewis have all battled injuries.
â€œWhen we've been hurt in the past,â€ Stoops said, â€œwe've made mental mistakes.â€
Not this season.
â€œWe've made fewer and fewer as the year's gone on,â€ Stoops said. â€œI just think mentally we've been sharper and given ourselves a chance to make plays.â€
Same goes for the offense.
It is a unit that has been solid. Forty-five points against Tech. Forty-four points against Baylor. Forty-seven against OSU. None of those opponents will be remembered for their awe-inspiring defenses, but scoring that many points three consecutive weeks is no small feat no matter who you're playing.
Landry Jones is playing his best ball of the year. Ryan Broyles is his normally brilliant self, but now he's getting help from some of his receiver friends. DeMarco Murray and Roy Finch are emerging as a nifty one-two punch out of the backfield.
â€œThey have a lot of good players on the offensive side of the ball,â€ Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. â€œWe've got our work cut out for us.â€
These Sooners have always had talent, but since those two road losses, they have grown teeth.
OU safety Quinton Carter remembers sensing a change the Monday after losing to A&M.
â€œIt was there in the air that we needed to change what we were doing,â€ he said. â€œIt put a fire under our butts.â€
No one had to say anything about fleeting championship dreams. Everyone just knew.
â€œKeep playing like that,â€ Carter said, â€œwe can't get there.â€
In answering that wake-up call, in bowing up and getting tough, in bearing down and battling hard, the Sooners have become what they are now.
So, how good are they? Plenty good enough to beat Nebraska and win the Big 12 title.
BEST WINS OF 2010
This college football season has had its share of great games. But which wins have been the best? We're not talking about games that have been lost, ala Boise State-Nevada. We're talking about games that have been won, victories that have been wrested away from an opponent.
Here's a look at the top five wins of the season:
* 1. Auburn over Alabama, 28-27: The Tigers and their national championship hopes were dead in the water, down 24-0 in the first half on Crimson Tide soil, but in the second half, the defense stiffened and Cam Newton took over. What resulted was one of the most stunning comebacks in college football history.
* 2. Boise State over Virginia Tech, 33-30: The Broncos' national-title hopes would live or die with the season opener. Talk about pressure. But in front of a largely Hokie crowd, Kellen Moore and Co. delivered a come-from-behind victory.
* 3. TCU over Utah, 47-7: Like Boise, this was the make-or-break game for the Horned Frogs. They didn't just go to Salt Lake City and win, a tall task for any team. They obliterated the Utes. Sure, Utah comes from a non-BCS conference, too, but a 40-point win against a top-10 team is big time.
* 4. Oklahoma over Oklahoma State, 47-41: Consider everything that was on the line â€” bragging rights, a division title and a trip to the conference title game â€” and the Sooners' victory would be impressive. Add in the hostile environment and the Cowboy comeback, and it is even more eye-opening.
* 5. Texas over Nebraska, 20-13: The Cornhuskers had this game circled for months, but despite that Big Red motivation, the Longhorns managed a victory in Huskerville. Knowing now how bad Texas really was makes this victory all the better.