Thursday, January 3, 2013

Cotton Bowl Preview: #11 Oklahoma

I went through all my game previews through the years and I noticed that I have never taken a historical look at OU's program.

The Sooners truly are one of the best programs in college football - one that I think is highly underrated when you're talking about the premier college football teams historically. 

They had three separate truly dominant eras.
Bud Wilkinson
The first of those three was under head coach Bud Wilkinson.  Wilkinson won three National Championships while played QB for Minnesota and was just as dominant on the sidelines in Norman.  He won 14 conference titles (thirteen in a row) and three National Championships ('50, '55, '56).

A few years back I read Jim Dent's The Undefeated, which told the story of the Sooners' 10 year stretch of dominance from '48-'57 under Wilkinson. They went 94-4-2 with two seperate win-streaks of 31 and 47 games.  During the 11 year span from 1948-1958 the Sooners lost more than one game in a season only once.  Wilkinson really made the Sooner state forget that they were a bunch of Tom Joads by giving them something to be proud of.

Interesting fact - one of Wilkinson's QBs at Oklahoma was a guy by the name of Darrell K. Royal.
Barry Switzer

The next stretch of dominance was under Barry Switzer, who took over in 1973 (he was previously their OC) and went on to win National Championships in '74, '75, & '85.

There were two things that fascinated me while reading his autobiography, Bootlegger's Boy.  One was that as an assistant coach at Arkansas he had two players that went by the names of Jimmy Johnson & Jerry Jones.  Yeah, that Jimmy Johnson & Jerry Jones. 
The Selmon Brothers
The other was that he landed a trio of brothers Lee Roy, Lucious, & Dewey Selmon - each of whom brought home unanimous All-American honors (a total of five between the three).  They all played together on the DL in 1973.  Apparently the saying in Norman in those times was, "God Bless Mrs. Selmon."

Their third era began when Bob Stoops took over the program in 1999.  They've been really good since then.  8 BCS Bowl appearances, including three National Championship games and one NC trophy.  That's a pretty good run.
Stoops has also added two Heisman winners under his belt but, in my opinion, the best player of the Stoops era was Adrian Peterson.  A.D. was like a man amongst boys on the field.

I've noticed that a lot of schools have given their Heisman winners a statue, but OU is probably the only school that has enough of them to call it Heisman Park.
Heisman Park in Norman, Ok
Billy Vessells won it in '52, Steve Owens in '69 (his trophy is displayed in the Coach's Restaurant in downtown Norman), Billy Sims in '78 (he's the loud annoying guy every year at the Heisman Ceremony) and then more recently, Jason "Eternally Eligible" White in '03 and Sam Bradford in '08.  You have to admit, that's pretty impressive.

The name Sooners came from the Oklahoma Territory Land Run back in 1889 - the Sooners were the ones who left early and the Boomers were the ones who waited for the gun to go off.  Think Tom Cruise in Far & Away.  That's why they're known in theses parts as the Land Thieves.

The Sooners play their home games at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.  They are typically pretty good there - from '99-'11 they lost two home games....but this year they lost twice (to currently ranked #5 Kansas State and #1 Notre Dame).  The stadium holds 82,000 but they can cram 85-86K in there.

A&M and Oklahoma have a pretty nice history against each other with 30 head-to-head bouts, including 18 times in the last 19 years.  The five games that are typically discussed around here are the
  • '97 - Ags won 56-7 
  • '00 - #1 OU snuck past Ags, 35-31
  • '02 - Ags upset #1 OU (Reggie's coming out party)
  • '03 - 77-0
  • '10 - Ags win 33-19 over #8 OU during magical November run
 Hopefully this year's game will make the our favor.

I'm not going to dive in too deeply into analyzing this year's matchup.  I don't have any particular venom towards OU, especially now that former DC, Brent Venables, is gone. 

This is not one of Stoops' best Sooner squads but it's still a really good team.  We do have somewhat of an advantage in that Sumlin has been in the trenches with Stoops and we know what they do on offense fairly well with their spread attack.

 aTm O v. OU D
 13  Rush  79
 13  Pass  26
  3   Tot  45
  3  Scor  40

Our offense is impressive because we did it against the SEC.  OU's defense (particularly pass defense) is impressive because they did it against the Big 12.

 OU O v. aTm D
 59  Rush  37

  4  Pass  80
 10   Tot  56

 11  Scor  29

OU's offense is inflated because they got to light up the terrible Big 12 defenses.  Our defense is inflated due to the handful of inept SEC offenses. 

We'll see who bucks the trends more.  Frankly, as it seems it always is in bowl games - the winner will come down to QB play, turnovers, and special teams play.


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