What started off as a good idea turned horrific for the Sooners. "Come play in my new stadium," cried Jerry Jones. A clash with BYU seemed like the perfect opening game. BYU carried decent name recognition on the national level but poised no real threat to mighty OU. The Sooners prevail 9 out of 10 times on a neutral field.
Less than 30 minutes into the season, a single hit on defending Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford sent shockwaves throughout the nation. At the conclusion of the 60-minute battle in Jerry's World, Sooner fans were left with jaws dropped.
A second Heisman Trophy run was vanquished. A quest for redemption in this year's BCS title game was removed from their vocabulary. Things appeared grim in Norman.
Truth be told, astute football observers felt these lofty goals were out of reach when tight end Jermaine Gresham went down prior to the start of the season. The eternal optimist looked the other way.
The team rallied for a winning season. Offensive line issues kept popping up like an unsightly pimple, but this was one of Head Coach Bob Stoops finest jobs.
The team fought against all odds and remained competitive in every game (if we dismiss the Texas Tech shellacking, of course). Student-athletes playing for the Crimson and Cream shoot for BCS games. Keeping them motivated when all big pay-day bowls are ruled out is a feat onto itself.
So we're left with a tasty morsel, otherwise known as the Sun Bowl. Be honest, when you first heard Sun Bowl you had no idea where it was played. Plus, when is the last time you even watched a Sun Bowl?
Let's keep this positive. Here are things to like about the New Year's Eve match-up against Stanford.
Quarterback Landry Jones gets invaluable practice time heading into next season. I told you someone would bring this underrated nugget up during bowl season.
We get to watch the Sooners defensive front seven take on this year's Heisman Trophy runner-up, Toby Gerhart.
Added bonus, he's the first white featured running back since, well, I'm sure there were others during my lifespan.
A New Year's Eve bowl makes more sense for fans than a New Year's Day bowl. Years ago, the prestige of playing on New Year's Day meant something.
Today, in the over saturation of college bowls on the ESPN Network, not so much. You may as well watch an exciting 1pm kickoff (CBS) then celebrate all night long. A New Year's Day bowl requires minimal sleep and rehydration to watch the game. Pfft.
El Paso is the 22nd-largest city in the United States. It borders Mexico. And since I promised to keep the tone positive, we will move right along.
The Sun Bowl is sponsored by Brut. The cologne maker sponsored professional athletes such as Muhammed Ali and Joe Namath back in the day. Their slogan was "splash it all over." Looks like men will leave El Paso smelling of warm amber, lavender, spice and woods.
Stanford is undefeated in two previous trips to the Sun Bowl. They earned victories over LSU in 1977 and Michigan State in 1996. You just don't stop the mighty Cardinal in southern Texas.
Remember the kid who lost to Tulsa's "sorta" very own David Cook on American Idol? David Archuleta? Well, he's the halftime performer. Hide the preteen girls!
The Sooners last bowl victory came against another Pac 10 opponent, Oregon, in the 2005 Holiday Bowl. More fun in the sun.
This will be the first time in recent memory that Bob Stoops is not the most intriguing head coach in a bowl game. The meteoric rise of Stanford's Jim Harbaugh trumps Stoops this year. Now sit back and watch Harbaugh squirm when rumors surface.
The Sooners' standout defensive lineman, Gerald McCoy, will suit up one final time in college. He will forgo his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. McCoy is no Ndamukong Suh, but who is a Suh?
DeMarco Murray electrifies when he's healthy. The junior might or might not return for his senior season. This will be his first bowl action after missing the previous two bowl games with injuries.
Here is another guy who is not coming back and will be missed more than most realize: Chris Brown.
"We're going to take this game like a championship game," said Brown on the prospect of playing in the Sun Bowl rather than their customary BCS bowl.
He reflected on the early season woes and how his team kept focused or rather refocused. "It got real bumpy at times, especially opening up with that loss," he said. "I think everybody changed their focus on the next game."
Do not expect a half-hearted effort in Texas. "Everybody wants this win bad." For some, it will be the last time they buckle the chin strap on any level.
Most experts pick Oklahoma in the Big 12/Pac 10 showdown. Vegas lists OU as an eight-point betting favorite. No need to take the pulse of the local sports jockeys. They lean only one way.
Be careful Sooner Nation. Only three bowl games have a higher point spread. The disrespect card is a mighty sword to wield.
Enjoy the Bowl Season.
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