Bob Stoops’ Oklahoma squad will break out of its slump

By By Nick Pappas and By Nick Pappas

By Nick Pappas

In the 1800s, land was given away at the sound of a gun.

Settlers lined up with covered wagons and raced to the spot they would call home. A sneaky few left at night and claimed their land before the race began. These scoundrels would be known as “Sooners,” because, well, they got there sooner.

Strange that years later, a university would name its team after a bunch of cheaters, though it’s worked for Oklahoma so far. Other universities should follow its lead. Imagine watching a dancing mascot in pinstripes for the University of Chicago Capones.

When Oklahoma and Florida take the field for the Bowl Championship Series National Championship Game, both teams will begin at zero, but Oklahoma should sneak ahead quickly after the coin is flipped.

I personally witnessed Oklahoma’s humiliation in last year’s Fiesta Bowl. A die-hard Sooner fan gave me a ticket and dressed me in Oklahoma gear as though I was a mannequin in Norman. True fans know all too well the droopy feeling of wearing the colors of their team in hostile territory at least once in their life. Imagine wearing the gear of a team you couldn’t care less about.

West Virginia beat up Oklahoma without its head coach. Rich Rodriguez bailed early to start digging the hole that would become Michigan football. The loss would make it four in a row for “Big-Game Bob.” One more this year and it might be time to think of a new nickname.

My point? Bob Stoops is due.

A coach of his caliber can’t possibly lose five in a row, can he? Year after year, Stoops has rebounded with a strong regular season, and this year he has a squad without many flaws. The SEC has produced the past two national champions. No conference has crowned three in a row since the 1940s.

This is the best offensive team Oklahoma has ever put on the field, and is arguably the best offensive team to ever play college football. The Sooners broke the NCAA record this year with 702 regular-season points, beating Hawaii’s two-year-old record of 656. Sam Bradford is No. 3 in the nation with 4,464 passing yards, and the team boasts two 1,000-yard rushers in Chris Brown and DeMarco Murray.

Florida’s defense is undersized, and will be facing the giants of Oklahoma’s wide receiver corps, led by Juaquin Iglesias8212;a senior who has caught a touchdown pass in five straight games.

Oklahoma has also been through a far more brutal schedule and is still standing. It isn’t even close. The Sooners played Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State in their conference, and Cincinnati and TCU out of conference. The only comparable teams the Gators faced were an overrated Georgia squad and Alabama.

The “Sooner Schooner” will be making the rounds several times Jan. 8. The guns will be firing, and Oklahoma will plant its flag in national championship ground. It’s time for “Big-Game Bob” to live up to his name again.

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Nick Pappas