NORMAN, Okla. -- Oklahoma began the 2011 season with expectations of contending for an eighth national championship.
Instead, the Sooners are in danger of finishing with the lowest AP ranking of a preseason No. 1 in the history of the poll. And even with a victory in the Insight Bowl over Iowa, probably the worst final ranking of a preseason No. 1 since 1960.
During an Insight Bowl teleconference, coach Bob Stoops admitted the Sooners have a ways to go to become a team capable of contending for a national title.
"We have a lot to get straight, we have a lot to correct," he said. "I don't know if just the bowl practices can get it done, but we're going to try. We'll see."
The first half of the season, the Sooners lived up to their No. 1 billing. OU knocked off then fifth-ranked Florida State in Tallahassee before hammering Texas by 38 points.
But the Sooners were never the same after that. A sluggish showing against Big 12 doormat Kansas proved to be a harbinger for losses to Texas Tech and Baylor. By Bedlam, OU was a shell of its former self, as injuries and attitude issues crippled the team. Oklahoma State led 44-3 in the third quarter, before coasting to its largest win in the series in 66 years.
"I would say in two of the three losses, coverage was very poor," Stoops said, referring to Tech and Baylor. "I would say in our last game, run defense was probably the biggest culprit, along with offensive turnovers."
After the Texas Tech loss, Stoops suggested that his team wasn't focused enough in the days leading up to the game. But he took issue with the premise that the same was true in the 34-point loss to the Cowboys.
"That's masking the problem if you say, 'Oh, we weren't ready to play and didn't want to play or any of that,'" Stoops said. "We were ready to play. That's giving our players too much of a break, that they're good enough -- that if we were ready to play, we would have won the game. I don't buy that. That's giving our players too much credit.
"In the end, we just weren't good enough."
Jake Trotter covers University of Oklahoma football for SoonerNation. He can be reached at email@example.com. Submit questions to his mailbag and look for answers every Friday.