Ranking Stoops' Big 12 championship teams

December, 11, 2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

It was almost like I asked Bob Stoops to tell me which one of his three children he liked the best.

The Oklahoma coach blanched when I wondered if his team's recent Big 12 championship was more meaningful than the others because of all of the BCS controversy that went into even getting them a chance to play in the championship game.

It's easy to understand why it's so tough for Stoops to pick and choose. He does have six Big 12 titles in a nine-season span that would qualify by any definition as a dynasty.

But just don't ask him which championship he liked the best. Because he really can't tell you.

"They are all sweet," Stoops said. "How do you beat the first time? Last year when we won with a freshman quarterback (Sam Bradford)? And Paul Thompson's season (2006) is one of my favorites because you remove your starter at the beginning of the year and bring a wide receiver to play at quarterback. It was one of the most gratifying because of what a great kid that Paul was."

So while Stoops won't say, I'll do it for him.

Here's my ranking of Stoops' six Big 12 title teams by their success and overall accomplishments.

1) 2000 Oklahoma
Record: 13-0
Key players: QB Josh Heupel, LB Rocky Calmus, DB Roy Williams
Losses: 0
Conference title game: Beat Kansas State, 27-24
Bowl: Beat Florida State, 13-2, for national championship
What made them special: Stoops' only undefeated team had "Red October" run where they beat ranked teams Texas, Kansas State and Nebraska in succession.
Weaknesses: Not many. They were national champions for a reason.

2) 2008 Oklahoma
Record: 11-1
Key players: QB Sam Bradford, G Duke Robinson, WR Juaquin Iglesias, DT Gerald McCoy, S Nic Harris
Losses: Texas, 35-45
Conference title game: Beat Missouri, 62-21
Bowl: Playing Florida in the Fed Ex BCS National Championship Game
What made them special: Bradford keyed perhaps the most explosive offense in college football history, setting a record with 60 points in five straight games. Varied offensive attack with strong running game, deep cast of receivers and talented offensive line. Despite defensive lapses, productive unit leads the nation in turnover margin and ranks third in sacks produced.
Weaknesses: Uneven defense gashed for big yardage efforts unlike most of Stoops' teams.

3) 2002 Oklahoma
Record: 12-2
Key players: QB Nate Hybl, RB Quentin Griffin, DT Tommie Harris
Losses: at Texas A&M, 26-30; at Oklahoma State, 28-38
Conference title game: Beat Colorado, 29-7
Bowl: Beat Washington State, 34-14, in the Rose Bowl
What made them special: Stifling defense ranked no less than 14th in any of the four major defensive statistical rankings and featured five All-Big 12 players.
Weaknesses: Susceptible to big plays, yielding four touchdown passes in losses to A&M and OSU.

4) 2004 Oklahoma
Record: 12-1
Key players: QB Jason White, RB Adrian Peterson, WR Mark Clayton, DE Dan Cody
Losses: USC in Orange Bowl, 19-55
Conference title game: Beat Colorado, 42-3
Bowl: Lost to USC in Orange Bowl for national championship
What made them special: Explosive offense ran up at least 28 points in every game but one be
fore the bowl game. Multifaceted offensive attack featured strong passing from White (35 touchdown passes) and rushing from Peterson (1,925 yards).
Weaknesses: Defensive struggles were apparent in close victories over A&M and Oklahoma State, but really were exposed when USC rolled up 525 yards in bowl loss.

5) 2006 Oklahoma
Record: 11-3
Key players: QB Paul Thompson, RB Adrian Peterson, LB Rufus Alexander
Losses: at Oregon, 33-34; Texas, 10-28; Boise State, 42-43
Conference title game: Beat Nebraska, 21-7
Bowl: Lost to Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl, 42-43
What made them special: This was Stoops' most resilient team, overcoming the replacement of Rhett Bomar by Paul Thompson before the season and Adrian Peterson's mid-season injury.
Weaknesses: The least talented of Stoops' teams didn't have enough defensive standouts to overcome high-powered offenses like Oregon, Texas and Boise State. They almost lost in tough shootouts against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

6) 2007 Oklahoma
Record: 11-3
Key players: QB Sam Bradford, G Duke Robinson, DE Auston English, LB Curtis Lofton
Losses: at Colorado, 24-27; at Texas Tech, 27-34; West Virginia, 28-48.
Conference title game: Beat Missouri, 34-17
Bowl: Lost to West Virginia in Fiesta Bowl, 28-48
What made them special: Bradford keyed an explosive offense by throwing for an NCAA freshman-record 36 touchdown passes. Balanced team ranked in top 20 in both scoring offense and scoring defense while leading the nation in kickoff returns and pass efficiency.
Weaknesses: Struggled in pass defense and in producing a legitimate pass rush during much of the season.



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