2008 CFN Oklahoma Preview
Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford
Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford
Posted May 9, 2008

It's all there for Sam Bradford and Oklahoma to win another Big 12 title, but will the team be able to have the fire from pillar to post? Will it be able to be the same team on the road as it is at home? Will another trip to Glendale be good enough this time around? Check out the CFN OU Preview.

Oklahoma Sooners

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Oklahoma Preview | 2008 Oklahoma Offense
- 2008 Oklahoma Defense | 2008 Oklahoma Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Oklahoma Preview | 2006 CFN Oklahoma Preview

All Oklahoma has done is win 90 games in eight years with a national title, five Big 12 championships, and six BCS appearances. and yet it all seems so empty. For all the success and all the great numbers, the program that was such a killer in every big game now doesn't seem nearly as bad or nearly as intimidating.

When the Sooners turn it on and have the full focus from the opening kickoff, which was obvious in games against Miami, Missouri (both of them), and Texas A&M, forget about it. When they don't appear to have much in the way of energy and the other team has the momentum early, like Texas Tech and West Virginia had, OU loses.

Head coach: Bob Stoops
9th year: 86-19
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 25, Def. 20, ST 5
Lettermen Lost: 10
Ten Best Sooner Players
1. QB Sam Bradford, Soph.
2. OG Duke Robinson, Sr.
3. OT Phil Loadholt, Sr.
4. DT Gerald McCoy, Soph.
5. DE Auston English, Jr.
6. TE Jermaine Gresham, Jr.
7. RB DeMarco Murray, Soph.
8. FS Nic Harris, Sr.
9. C Jon Cooper, Sr.
10. DT DeMarcus Granger, Jr. 

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 UT Chattanooga
Sept. 6 Cincinnati
Sept. 13 at Washington
Sept. 20 OPEN DATE
Sept. 27 TCU
Oct. 4 at Baylor
Oct. 11 Texas (Dallas)
Oct. 18 Kansas
Oct. 25 at Kansas State
Nov. 1 Nebraska
Nov. 8 at Texas A&M
Nov. 22 Texas Tech
Nov. 29 at Oklahoma State

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Record: 11-3

Sept. 1 North Texas W 79-10
Sept. 8 Miami W 51-13
Sept. 15 Utah State W 54-3
Sept. 21 at Tulsa W 62-21
Sept. 29 at Colorado L 27-24
Oct. 6 vs. Texas W 28-21
Oct. 13
Missouri W 41-31
Oct. 20 at Iowa State W 17-7
Nov. 3 Texas A&M W 42-14
Nov. 10
Baylor W 52-21
Nov. 17 at Texas Tech L 34-27
Nov. 24 Oklahoma State W 49-17
Big 12 Championship
Dec. 1 Missouri W 38-17
Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 2 West Virginia L 48-28

So the key for OU has to be to get out to a hot start early in every game and then ride the talent level the rest of the way. On experience, skill, NFL talent, depth, and any other way you want to measure, no one on the schedule, including Kansas, Texas, and Texas Tech, can stay with the Sooners. But everyone gets up for OU and brings its A game, and now, as it needs to realize, OU has to find a way to get up for everyone and bring its A game, too.

More than anything else, the Sooners have to be hungry again. The earlier teams in the Bob Stoops era couldn't hang with the OU teams of the last few years on talent, but they brought an attitude and nastiness week in and week out that the current versions only seem able to find every once in a while. If the Oklahoma that beat Missouri in the 2007 Big 12 Championship can come up with that focus and fire from UT Chattanooga to Oklahoma State, it'll be in the BCS Championship Game.

No, this isn't going to be a slam-dunk run to a third straight Big 12 title with several young, but talented, players needing shine on defense in place of some big-time stars like LB Curtis Lofton and CB Reggie Smith, and the running backs need to be healthy, but there's no reason to shoot for anything lower than yet another Fiesta Bowl berth.

If the fire is there from the start, and it doesn't go away, the Sooners might be going to to Miami instead of Glendale.

What to look for on offense: The no-huddle. It left a little something to be desired at the end of spring ball as the ultra-efficient Sam Bradford starting throwing picks, but the idea is to get the offense into a quicker tempo and into more of a rhythm. Can the big, talented offensive line keep up with the pace? Will the receivers be on the same page with Bradford? The big question is whether or not the coaching staff is tinkering with something that didn't need to be messed with.

What to look for on defense: Is the secondary really as good as it looked throughout spring ball? Granted, the passing game was tinkering around and the receiving corps needed to break in a few players, but the secondary that was supposed to be a major issue after losing Reggie Smith, D.J. Wolfe, and Marcus Walker was better than anyone could've hoped for. Dominique Franks picked off three passes in the spring game as the leader of the young, talented group.

This team will be much better if… it shows up for every road game. Including the game against Tulsa, OU was 8-0 in the state of Oklahoma winning by a combined score of 430 to 130 (an average of 54 to 16). The Sooners were 3-3 in the other six games outscoring their opponents by a combined score of 162 to 154 (an average of 27 to 25.6). In case you were wondering, the games outside of the Sooner State are at Washington, against Texas, at Kansas State, and at Texas A&M.

The Schedule: This is a schedule to win a national title with. Cincinnati and TCU are good, but they both have to come to Norman. Going to Washington shouldn't be that big a problem for a team with championship aspirations, and almost all the key Big 12 games are at home. Of course there's the Dallas date with Texas, but that comes after a tune-up at Baylor. Getting Kansas, Nebraska and Texas Tech at home will help, but the trip to Kansas State will be tougher than is might appear. Going to Texas A&M and Oklahoma State is always tough, but again, this is an OU team thinking national championship; it needs to win those showdowns.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore QB Sam Bradford. Guard Duke Robinson will likely be a first round draft pick, and there are several other good pro prospects, but Bradford's the one who makes it all go. The nation's most efficient passer completed 70% of his throws for 3,121 yards and 36 touchdowns with eight interceptions, and that when he supposedly didn't know what he was doing.

Best Defensive Player: Sophomore DT Gerald McCoy. Welcome to the new Tommie Harris. The ultra-quick McCoy was a tremendous anchor for the front line and allowed everyone else around him to work. The superstar recruit has lived up the hype so far, and now he appears ready to take a big turn and become the type of star who gets the NFL scouts drooling.

Key player to a successful season: Junior LB Ryan Reynolds. He has the talent and he has the potential to be a top statistical star, but he hasn't been able to stay healthy. Now he has to take over for Curtis Lofton, the team's heart-and-soul defensive star, and try to replace the Big 12 Player of the Year's 156 stops.

The season will be a success if ... OU wins the Big 12 title again and is in the hunt for the national title. There are just enough concerns on both sides of the ball to keep the Sooners from playing for the whole ball of wax, but as long as they take care of business and win what might be the toughest top to bottom conference in the country this year, everything else might fall into place. The talent is there and the schedule isn't bad. Now the team has to play up to its capabilities.

Key game: Nov. 8 at Texas A&M. Of course the Texas showdown is the biggest obstacle on the schedule, and the date with Kansas the following week will be must-see TV, but the Sooners will get up for those two. The key this year is improving on the road, and the game in College Station is just the sort of letdown the team has to overcome. It'll be easy to overlook the Aggies with an off-week coming the following week before dealing with Texas Tech and the Bedlam rivalry against Oklahoma State.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Red zone TDs: Oklahoma 48 of 68 (71%) – Opponents 21 of 41 (51%)
 - Third down conversions: Oklahoma 93 of 189 (49%) – Opponents 69 of 210 (33%)
 - Rushing yards per game: Oklahoma 190.7 – Opponents 110.3