I had a lot of teams in the mix for this third spot but I went with the Sooners because of their strong offensive and defensive lines and firepower on offense.
The Good News: OU has arguably the best offensive and defensive lines in the country and when you can control the trenches like that on both sides of the ball, it makes you extremely tough to beat. The offensive line returns five senior starters and will be the main cog in what should be a Sooners offensive machine. Sam Bradford had an unbelievable freshman year and should be even better as a sophomore. The Sooners installed a no-huddle offense in the spring, so Bradford's numbers could be even more gaudy in 2008. He won't have to look far for help either. Running backs DeMarco Murray and Chris Brown should find plenty of running roam behind that line. Murray, in particular, is primed for a huge season. Receivers Juaquin Iglesias, Manuel Johnson and Quentin Chaney will find themselves on the other end of numerous Bradford passes this season. The Sooners have some question marks on defense but the line isn't one of them. End Auston English returns after leading the team with 9.5 sacks last year. He'll be joined by Jeremy Beal, DeMarcus Granger and Gerald McCoy to form one of the nation's top defensive fronts.
The Bad News: The Sooners have question marks at linebacker and cornerback. OU will be breaking in new starters at both corner spots and while Brian Jackson and Dominique Franks looked good in the spring, they haven't shown they can hold up against the explosive Big 12 passing attacks yet. The Sooners are strong at safety so that should help while the new corners adjust. After losing Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Curtis Lofton to the NFL, OU needs to replace two of three starters at linebacker. There's talent there but most of the linebackers on the Sooners roster are unproven. OU will also be breaking in a freshman kicker and like Georgia, that could come into play during a tight game along the way. Finally, the Sooners need to get some of their swagger back after being embarrassed in their last four BCS Bowl appearances.
Schedule: It sets up nicely for a title run. The Sooners need to avoid a potential pitfall early in the year when they travel to Washington to battle the improved Huskies. If they can get by that game, OU has the annual slugfest with Texas, plus home tilts with Kansas, Nebraska and Texas Tech. The Tech game should be highly emotional since it was the Red Raiders who knocked OU out of the National Championship Game last year. OU hits the road to take on familiar foes Kansas State, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State but in a conference as tough as the Big 12, this is as easy as it gets. There is no Missouri until a potential Big 12 title matchup and improving Colorado - who beat Oklahoma last season - is also off the schedule.
Gambling Angle: OU overs should be very profitable early in the season as long as you pick the right spots. The Sooners have an explosive, experienced offense that will carry the team until the unproven back seven on defense gets its legs under them. That will be made a bit easier playing behind a dominant defensive line but teams like Washington and Texas should be able to put some points on the boards against the Sooners. Luckily for OU, they don't play a lot of explosive offenses early, which should help its defense gain confidence for the stretch run. Don't expect teams such as Cincinnati, TCU ad Baylor to put up many points on the Sooners.
Outlook: As long as Bradford stays healthy, the Sooners are going to score a ton of points this season. The addition of the no-huddle not only helps the offense, it helps OU's defense prepare for it. That should pay off since at least half of the teams in the Big 12 run some version of the no-huddle. The biggest question with the Sooners is how quickly the new corners come along. They have some time before they face the Big 12's better offenses but if you don't have good cover guys in that conference, it's a huge problem. Still, the Sooners have the talent and the schedule to make a serious run at the National Title. A showdown with Missouri in the Big 12 Title Game could be for all the marbles. Now, OU just needs to figure out how to win a BCS Bowl once they get there.
What do Oklahoma, Ohio State and Marijuana all have in common?
THEY ALL GET SMOKED IN BOWLS lol lol lol
? is Can they WIN a BCS Bowl ? 0-4 YIKES!!!