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Sports roundtable: Is this the best OSU team ever?

Could this be the best OSU team ever? We posed the question to our panel of college football experts, along with the compelling question of the week – can the Cowboys win on Saturday.
Oklahoman Modified: October 22, 2008 at 1:44 pm •  Published: October 22, 2008
Could this be the best OSU team ever? We posed the question to our panel of college football experts, along with the compelling question of the week – can the Cowboys win on Saturday. Here are their answers in the latest College Football Roundtable:

Columnist Jenni Carlson: Maybe ever. The final chapters have yet to be written on this OSU team, but for the Cowboys to be as highly ranked as they are in an era when college football has more parity than ever, it speaks highly to the caliber of team this is. Sure, the Barry Sanders Cowboys were great. Sure, there have been teams of yesteryear that were great. But if this team continues down the path it's on, it will be hard to argue their success in a day that success is difficult to come by in college football.

OSU beat writer Scott Wright: 1976. That team beat three top-10 teams to win OSU's only Big Eight title in a year when the conference was pretty darn good.

Columnist Berry Tramel: This is the best OSU team since at least 1988. You can’t go beyond that yet. Too early. The meat of the Cowboys' schedule remains ahead: Texas, Tech, OU. But the victory at Missouri certainly signals that OSU has made serious improvement over the previous seasons, when the Cowboys have been occasionally solid but never great. Since World War II, the best team in OSU history, I think, is 1984. The 1987 and 1988 Cowboys were great, but they were offensive juggernauts. The '84 Cowboys were defenders supreme, going 10-2 and losing two road games. At Nebraska 17-3 and at OU 24-14.

OU football beat writer Jake Trotter: At this point, 2003. But in the end, possibly 1988. The 2003 Pokes, as good as they were with Fields, Woods and Bell, couldn't beat OU or Texas. If this year's team wins at least one of those games, then I bump them ahead of the 2003 squad.

Columnist John Rohde: Maybe ever. The 1945 Cowboys finished 9-0, but college teams during war years were depleted.

2. Play the percentages: Chances OSU has to win on Saturday? Wright: 20 percent. If they played five times, Texas would win four. We'll just have to see which one of the five games gets played in Austin Saturday.

Tramel: I would give OSU a 20 percent chance of winning Saturday. Even if these teams were even, Texas would jump to a 65-35 chance, playing at home. I think UT is superior in talent, but OSU has closed the gap.

Carlson: 40 percent. A couple weeks ago, I'd have given the Cowboys less than a 10 percent chance of winning. Now, I think they have an offense and a defense capable of beating the Longhorns. Should be a heck of a game.

Trotter: 22 percent. OSU, traditionally, plays well in Austin, though the results haven’t always been ideal. The key, in a road game like this, is to avoid getting KO’ed in the first quarter, which is what happened to Mizzou. If the Pokes are within a touchdown in the third, then I like their chances even more because of the game-changing, big-play capabilities of Hunter, Bryant and Robinson.

Rohde: 20 percent. The problem here is location, location, location. Play this game in Stillwater and the Cowboy's odds are twice that good.

3. What do you think of the talk of a Texas vs. OU BCS title game?

Tramel: I think an OU-Texas rematch is a long, long shot. First off, the SEC champ would have to have two losses, which is not likely. Then the voters would have to jump OU ahead of a one-loss Ohio State or Penn State (probable) and one-loss USC (not likely). Now, if all those teams have two defeats, then sure, OU-Texas rematch.

Carlson: I hate the idea of conference teams matching up in the title game. If nothing else, it means that a team that didn't even win its conference division is playing for a national championship. That just doesn't make sense. But because the BCS is the most screwed up, convoluted system in all of sports, OU-Texas for the national title could definitely happen. What a shame that would be.

Trotter: I think it is a longshot at this point, but certainly a possibility. OU and Texas have to win out, Alabama and Penn State have to lose, and the winner of the SEC can't look dominant to voters. Georgia, because of its strength in the computers and difficult schedule remaining, is the most likely one-loss SEC team to pass a one-loss OU. Florida and Alabama are next. And LSU is last (the Tigers are No. 13 in the BCS and No. 19 in the computers). So OU fans should root for LSU; and root against Georgia, Alabama and Florida.

Wright: Makes for fun conversation, but it won't happen. With all the upsets we've had in college football so far, why do we assume they'll stop now?

Rohde: Sounds great, but why talk about something that probably won't happen? Chances are slim and none.

4. What's the most impressive thing about this year's Texas team?

Carlson: The thing that amazes me is that the Longhorns are dominating without a dominating running back. They don't have a Ricky Williams or a Cedric Benson or even a Jamaal Charles. Texas has long been known for those star tailbacks, so for this Texas team to be so good with running back by committee is pretty amazing. I suspect it speaks to the strength in other areas of this team.

Tramel: Colt McCoy is the most impressive thing about this Texas team. He was an excellent quarterback as a freshman, was very good last year with his supporting cast melting down around him and has been spectacular in 2008.

Wright: Its ability to produce offensively with virtually no viable run game. Colt McCoy is the team's leading rusher and only two players average more than 35 yards per game. OSU has four.

Trotter: Other than the obvious, Colt McCoy, I'll go with the wide receivers. Jordan Shipley and Quan Cosby look like high school players in person. But they're big-time wideouts on the college football field. They have great hands, run precise routes, know how to get open and they make plays after the catch.

Rohde: These Longhorns are much more physical. Texas found out it's OK to hit somebody rather than just running right by them.

5. What will be Tulsa's bowl desination?

Tramel: I think Tulsa is Liberty Bowl-bound. The Conference USA champ goes to Memphis; I don't see TU making a BCS game. Two things have to happen to get TU to the Orange Bowl: the Golden Hurricane must go undefeated (possible) and both Utah and Boise State have to lose (possible). Two possibles equate to improbable.

Rohde: Liberty Bowl. Even if Tulsa is 13-0, sad to say.

Trotter: Tulsa has a shot at the Orange. The Golden Hurricane probably need Utah, TCU and Boise State to lose for that to happen. Otherwise, Tulsa is looking at the Liberty or GMAC bowls.

Carlson: I'm going to be the eternal optimist and say that the Golden Hurricane is headed to the Sugar Bowl. Right now, Utah and Boise State are the popular non-BCS conference picks to make a BCS bowl, but Tulsa looks absolutely capable of going undefeated. Why not put it in the BCS?

Wright: The Orange Bowl. Not the BCS title game, but the real Orange Bowl as an undefeated BCS buster.

Trotter: Tulsa has a shot at the Orange. The Golden Hurricane probably need Utah, TCU and Boise State to lose for that to happen. Otherwise, Tulsa is looking at the Liberty or GMAC bowls.


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