NORMAN — The rankings and the pundits say otherwise, but Oklahoma isn't one of the best five teams in the country.
The Sooners might get there eventually, might be among the country's best squads by the time the season is over. But on a night when they again struggled, it became obvious that these guys aren't playing like an elite team.
Yes, the scoreboard said this was a dominating performance.
OU 69, Florida A&M 13.
But anyone who made the trip to Norman or shelled out $39.95 for the pay-per-view broadcast knows that the score covers up the fact that the Sooners once again had their problems.
“We're playing as well as we can play,” Sooner center Gabe Ikard said, “and we're getting better every week.”
Do you read that comment as a positive or negative, Sooner fans?
How you answer that is likely indicative of your take on this team.
After last week, lots of you were concerned. And rightfully so. This is supposed to be one of the best teams in the country, a team that will contend for a national championship, but it went to UTEP and fought for its life.
But many of you decided not to hit the panic button just yet. After all, the Sooners have a history of so-so openers in championship seasons. You figured there was no reason to start pounding the panic button just yet.
I suspect some of you are probably pushing the panic button so much after Saturday's game that you're developing carpal tunnel.
“We still had lots of mistakes,” Sooner receiver Kenny Stills admitted. “We still have corrections to make.”
After last week's game, you'd have thought the Sooners would've played a much more focused game. You'd have thought they would've honed in on those areas that needed fixing. You'd have thought they would've been razor sharp.
Instead, Landry Jones threw a couple passes directly to Florida A&M defenders, one that was dropped and one that was intercepted. Stills dropped a would-be touchdown. Dom Whaley fumbled. Ikard and fellow offensive lineman Lane Johnson committed personal fouls.
Each mistake is correctable, but against an outmanned Florida A&M squad it's troubling that OU had those mistakes at all.
Some of the problems were smoothed over by Damien Williams. The junior college transfer is a big-time talent. He followed up his hundred-yard debut last week with another stellar performance. His 156 yards rushing were the most by a Sooner in his home debut.
Think of all the great Sooner running backs that have come before him. Adrian Peterson. Billy Sims. Steve Owens. Joe Washington. The list goes on, and yet, none of them had a home debut as good as Williams.
So, there's plenty of reason for Sooner fans to be excited about him.
Ditto for the growing chemistry between Landry Jones and Kenny Stills, who connected 10 times on Saturday night, and the youngsters at receiver, Trey Metoyer and Sterling Shepard. Those two are going to be great for many years to come.
But those bright spots couldn't mask the lingering problems. Adding to OU's woes, an ankle injury to Tony Jefferson sidelined him and exposed just how thin the Sooners are at some positions. The standout safety was replaced by Jesse Paulsen, a name that caused everyone to scramble for their programs.
He's a former walk-on who earned a scholarship, making for a nice feel-good story, but he missed an assignment that led to Florida A&M's lone touchdown, a 75-yard pass. It made everyone realize that there are some areas where OU just can't afford a long-term injury.
Sooner coach Bob Stoops said Jefferson's injury isn't considered serious, and considering Kansas State is next up on the schedule after an off week, everyone had better hope Jefferson will return.
It'll be all hands on deck to try to slow the Wildcats.
“I got to see some of it today,” Stoops said of K-State's dismantling of Miami, “and they look great.
“I'm glad we have a couple weeks to work on it.”
Maybe that time will cure what ills the Sooners. Maybe they will find the answers that have eluded them thus far. But after games against two inferior teams, they have yet to play like one of the nation's best teams.
There's still time for the Sooners to reach that level.
But the clock is ticking.