Here’s the problem.
The easy thing to write one game into most Sooner season’s is something along the lines of, yeah, that was a good win, but question marks remain.
Only that column’s not available.
Seriously, the worst thing anybody can say about what happened a week ago against Florida Atlantic — a purported good team — is the Owls picked up six first downs in the first quarter.
They didn’t score. Not until much later.
They didn’t really approach scoring. They did, however, move the ball. Had they been a baseball team, they would have left runners on base.
Oh, and Austin Seibert pulled one kickoff out of bounds. He missed a 50-plus-yard field goal, too, but the news there wasn’t the miss so much as Lincoln Riley’s willingness to attempt it, which is a good thing.
So that’s it. Thus, a question is begged. What’s going to happen? It’s the question because, all things being equal, it feels like nothing may happen.
Today, OU faces better athletes when UCLA arrives at Owen Field. Also, the Bruins just lost to Cincinnati at home.
They bring half their starters back from a team that won six games last year. Though they have a new genius coach, Chip Kelly, they’re also just the second game into new systems, which can’t be easy. If the Bruins prove tough out, count the entire college football world surprised.
Then it’s Iowa State, Army and Baylor, only the Cyclones on the road; then Texas and TCU, a team that lost to Maryland and a team OU beat twice last season; then it’s Texas Tech away, Bedlam at home, Kansas at home.
Finally, it’s West Virginia at Morgantown, which could well be for a Big 12 title — of course, OU may already have it in the bag — and that’s it.
Presuming the good health of Kyler Murray, would OU be less than a touchdown favorite over any of them right now? Less than a two-touchdown favorite?
Yet, we know this, too.
It’s hardly ever that easy.
But for a non-conference tilt at Alabama — the Renaldo Works game — it was that easy in in 2003 until the Big 12 title game.
It looked like it might be that easy in 2007, until an inexplicable loss at Colorado, but Sam Bradford was just a freshman.
OU was a 2008 machine, yet broke down inside the Cotton Bowl nonetheless, and the Sooners were fortunate to find a path back to the BCS title game.
It’s tempting to think of last season as a runaway train from the moment Iowa State upset OU until the moment Georgia staged the biggest comeback in Rose Bowl history.
Of course, that’s wrong, because after getting beaten by the Cyclones, OU was bad against Texas until it wasn’t, really bad at Kansas State until it wasn’t and not particularly good at Kansas, even on a day it won 41-3.
Those struggles were even foreshadowed when OU allowed a Baylor team that had lost to Liberty to come from 28-10 down to 31-28 up.
Which brings us back to today and whatever pops up after today. Independent of opponent, issues arise. What could they be?
It’s easy to harp on the defense, yet since the fourth quarter began in Stillwater last season, it’s really only played one bad half, unless you want to throw out the second half of a West Virginia game the Mountaineers were never in.
It’s hard to find an issue with the offensive line, the running backs or receivers. Maybe Murray’s bound to play a few stinker games. It’s still his first turn to start in years. Momentarily, at least, it’s the only way to look at the season.
Because the day the Sooners fail to score 40 points will be the day everybody’s shocked. Heck, the day any conference rival actually gives them a good game, we’re bound to be surprised.
Maybe OU goes 13-0 and somehow fails to reach the College Football Playoff. It’s hard to imagine, but the Big 12 is clearly down.
Waiting on UCLA, that’s OU.
The Sooners are good and who knows who might stand in their way.