7. Oklahoma 2005 Record: 8-4
Why Oklahoma could be the Pre-preseason No. 1: The common perception is that the 2005 Sooners were a major disappointment after playing in the previous two national championship games, but it was a solid season with the four losses coming to TCU, UCLA, Texas and Texas Tech, who combined to lose a total of six games. It was one of the toughest schedules ever played, yet OU still finished impressively with a Holiday Bowl win over Oregon. This year, there’s more than enough talent returning on both sides of the ball to expect a run for the Big 12 title, and maybe even more. The baby-young receiving corps of last year should be a strength, the linebacking corps should be among the best in the nation, and the secondary should be fantastic. Of course, Adrian Peterson returns and should be the nation’s best player.
Why Oklahoma isn’t the Pre-preseason No. 1: September 2nd at Oregon. The Ducks should be just as good as last season, and it’ll have some extra motivation after the Holiday Bowl loss. There are some key losses on the offensive line, and FB J.D. Runnels will be sorely missed. The big question mark is still QB Rhett Bomar, who might have all the talent in the world, but still has to prove he can be a consistent winner.
What Oklahoma needs to do to get to the Fiesta Bowl: Get a big season out of Bomar. Every defense will load up to stop Peterson, so Bomar has to be a weapon with his arm as well as his legs after completing only 54% of his passes with ten touchdown passes and ten interceptions. He was every bit the big-time recruit Peterson was, and if he starts to play like it, the sky is the limit.
Realistic, feet-on-the-ground, goal to shoot for: The Fiesta Bowl. It’s not going to be a walk in the park, but the schedule sets up perfectly with the potential for a splashy opening day win at Oregon to set the tone, the Texas game to get the huge win needed to get high up in the rankings, and a relatively easy rest of the slate with the road games coming at Oklahoma State, Missouri, Texas A&M and Baylor.
The number one thing to work on is: The return game. OU was 11th in the Big 12 in both punt and kickoff returns averaging only 7.4 yards on punt returns and 18.18 on kickoff returns. Most importantly, as already mentioned, is to make Bomar a more efficient passer.
Biggest offensive loss: OT Davin Joseph
Biggest defensive loss: DT Dusty Dvoracek