Big win means bigger expectations for OU
September, 28, 2013
By Adam Rittenberg | ESPN.com
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- When Oklahoma and Notre Dame met last year in Norman, one team walked off the field with the privilege of possibility, the ability to dream big.
The Sooners were not that team. Their second loss virtually eliminated them from national title contention and ensured that another season beginning with a top-5 ranking would end in some degree of disappointment. Running back Brennan Clay still believed the Sooners had a title shot -- "Some team went down late in the season," he recalled -- but he might have been the only one.
Notre Dame gained the validation that day, and the Irish went on to play for the crystal football.
There's no telling whether Oklahoma will do the same Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif. But the Sooners have the authority to heighten expectations. They earned that right with a 35-21 victory at Notre Dame Stadium.
"No doubt in my mind," Clay said, "that we're a national championship-type of team."
There have been plenty of doubts about Oklahoma, more so than in previous seasons.
The Sooners came in at No. 16 in the AP preseason poll, the first time since 2000 that they entered the season outside the top 10. They had question marks at quarterback and with a defense that had been quite un-Stoops-like in 2012, finishing 50th nationally in points allowed, 89th against the run, 70th in sacks and 112th in tackles for loss.
AP Photo/Darron CummingsBlake Bell had a complete performance in his first start on the road, against Notre Dame no less.
Oklahoma might not have been in rebuilding mode. But few viewed the Sooners as championship material, either.
Now they're 4-0 after a definitive win against last year's national runner-up. Bob Stoops and his players won't look ahead, but you can. Oklahoma faces two teams that have underachieved to date (TCU, Texas), a weak Kansas squad and Texas Tech at home before visiting Baylor on Nov. 7 in a game that could decide the Big 12 title.
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BIG 12 SCOREBOARD
14:17 1st Qtr Rutgers 0 North Carolina 0 8:00 PM ET North Carolina State UCF Final Illinois 18 Louisiana Tech 35
Final Nevada 3 Louisiana-Lafayette 16 Final Utah State 21 UTEP 6 Final 22 Utah 45 Colorado State 10 Final Western Michigan 24 Air Force 38 Final South Alabama 28 Bowling Green 33
Final Marshall 52 Northern Illinois 23 Final Navy 17 San Diego State 16
Final Central Michigan 48 Western Kentucky 49 Final Fresno State 6 Rice 30
1:00 PM ET Cincinnati Virginia Tech 2:00 PM ET 15 Arizona State Duke 3:30 PM ET Miami (FL) South Carolina 4:30 PM ET Boston College Penn State 8:00 PM ET Nebraska 24 USC
2:00 PM ET Texas A&M West Virginia 5:30 PM ET Oklahoma 17 Clemson 9:00 PM ET Arkansas Texas
3:00 PM ET Notre Dame 23 LSU 6:30 PM ET 13 Georgia 21 Louisville 10:00 PM ET Maryland Stanford
12:30 PM ET 9 Ole Miss 6 TCU 4:00 PM ET 20 Boise State 10 Arizona 8:00 PM ET 7 Mississippi State 12 Georgia Tech
12:00 PM ET 19 Auburn 18 Wisconsin 12:30 PM ET 8 Michigan State 5 Baylor 1:00 PM ET 16 Missouri 25 Minnesota 5:00 PM ET 2 Oregon 3 Florida State 8:30 PM ET 1 Alabama 4 Ohio State
12:00 PM ET Houston Pittsburgh 3:20 PM ET Iowa Tennessee 6:45 PM ET 11 Kansas State 14 UCLA 10:15 PM ET Washington Oklahoma State