(Editor's note: This is the first piece in a multi-part preview of Oklahoma's 2009 season.)
It's not far from the penthouse to the outhouse, but it's even shorter from the Fiesta Bowl to the Freedom Bowl.
(That's really saying something, too, because the Freedom Bowl folded a ways back.)
With three straight BCS bowl appearances and seven this decade, Oklahoma isn't too accustomed to sitting at the table by the kitchen. No, the Sooners may not win premier bowl games, but they excel at getting there. In fact, they're tied with USC and Ohio St. for the most BCS appearances ever.
When you consider that OU isn't quite the box office draw of Notre Dame or Ohio State, meaning that the Sooners are near the back of the line for at-large invitations, that's a pretty good run.
I bring this up now because it's not as easy as OU makes it look, and that's something Sooner fans will need to keep in mind this year. Consider how good some of these programs have been recently and the disparity in BCS appearances against those of OU:
- Georgia: 3
- Florida: 5
- LSU: 4
- Texas: 3
- Michigan: 4
So what? Well, it just goes to show how small the distance that separates the supposedly elite teams from the good ones actually is. For OU, that margin for error will be even slimmer in 2009.
The schedule? In a word, rough.
Depth? Thinner than Homer Simpson's hairline in spots.
Bias? Strongly "anti-."
The reality is that for each of OU's pros, there's an equally glaring con. No matter how much talent this OU team has, it's hard to remember the deck being stacked against the Sooners like this in quite some time.
So, how should Sooner Nation calibrate its expectations this year? Well, get used to the idea that there will be no wiggle room. If OU wants to win a national championship in 2009, it will need to borrow the script from its 2000 title season--zero injuries, zero bad breaks and zero slip-ups.
Let's get real, then. When your only option is perfection plus good fortune, that's hard to live up to. Unfortunately, that probably means this team is closer to the Cotton Bowl than the Rose Bowl.