Spring has sprung and summer is officially upon us. As the heat index rises so do the hopes of Big 12 championships across the conference landscape. Even perennial doormats have the hope of bigger and better when the fall comes around. Last year it was Iowa State pulling off the shocker in Norman which only adds hope to programs trying to rise from the bottom.
Oklahoma has become than standard in the Big 12 Conference to which other teams try to measure up to. Even the most prideful of programs, like Texas, are hoping to stack up to OU’s level of success. Perhaps they won’t admit it publicly but October 6th was the first date Longhorn fans checked when their schedule was released. The first thing every other fanbase did in the conference was check to see when they played the Sooners as well.
Oklahoma has become to Big 12 football what Kansas is to Big 12 basketball. They are the kings of the conference and nine other programs are hoping that someone, perhaps themselves, can knock the kings off the hill. It doesn’t matter who the starting quarterback or who the head coach is. OU goes out every Saturday with the biggest targets on their backs. That’s what winning three consecutive championships and eleven of the last eighteen will do for you.
The Hardware Is Stacking Up
|Big 12 Championships Among Active Members|
|Team||# of Championships||Years|
|Oklahoma||11||2000, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017|
|Texas||3||1996, 2005, 2009|
|Kansas State||2||2003, 2012|
Sure, everyone has a sales pitch. Oklahoma, Texas, TCU, Oklahoma State, and others all have their reasons as to why they should be the flagship program for the Big 12. However, an examination of the respective trophy cabinets will clearly indicate that there’s only one true flagship program and it’s not even close. Hint: It’s the one in Norman, Oklahoma.
The Challenges of 2018
Nothing ever comes easy and any championship of merit is one that has been won by overcoming challenges. The primary challenge to Oklahoma’s quest for a four-peat (something they’ve never done) is two-fold. The Sooners must insert new personnel at key positions and they’ve got to run through a daunting schedule.
The quarterback position has grabbed the majority of the headlines. Kyler Murray is expected to beat out Austin Kendall in a tightly contested battle over the summer but that’s just one of many key positions that will feature new jersey numbers this fall. The offensive line is going to have a few new faces on it. Defensive end/Jack Linebacker will be new, there’s a spot open at linebacker and both safeties are going to be first-time starters.
Oklahoma closes out the season by playing three of their final five games in Norman. However, a non-conference schedule that is highlighted by UCLA and an early conference road trip (Iowa State on September 15) will certainly put OU’s new personnel to the test. Texas, at the Cotton Bowl, is never a sure bet either but the two biggest scheduling challenges for the Sooners in 2018 could end up being road trips to Ft. Worth, Texas and Morgantown, West Virginia.
TCU is certainly hunting for revenge from two losses to Oklahoma in 2017 and West Virginia may very well have the best quarterback in the Big 12. The Mountaineers will have the final crack at the Sooners in the regular season.
Why The Expectations Shouldn’t Change For 2018
You can’t put a value on consistency. For nearly two decades now there hasn’t been a more consistent program in the Big 12. Not only have the Sooners won more conference title than all of the other current members put together, they’ve also played for more national championships. While other teams going into the season hoping this is their year, Oklahoma goes in knowing that it’s theirs.
Even with the departures from last year’s team, Oklahoma enters the 2018 season both talented and deep. They’ve the most stability at running back since Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine we’re lining up in the backfield together. They’re as deep at receiver as they’ve been in five years or more, and they’re finally deep along the defensive line.
Success breeds confidence. Consistent success breeds a dynasty. Oklahoma Football is most definitely in dynasty mode.