As Oklahoma travels into Fort Worth this weekend, how important is this game to the Sooner football program? Is this a must win? Is this a program-defining game?
There are very few games that have a determining connotation to the program. College football is a crazy world where there are performances and results that are difficult to comprehend.
Be that as it may, there are still games that outline the trajectory of each season. And this Saturday’s game between Oklahoma and TCU has that unequivocal feel to it.
Honestly, this is a path that is not too uncommon to the Sooner program.
Oklahoma has lofty expectations. Rightfully so, with seven national championships and 44 conferences championships. Just this summer, they were ranked 2nd by the Associated Press in their all-time rankings. The fact of the matter is, the expectations for this Sooner team was a berth in the 2016 College Football Playoff with a chance to add to that rich tradition.
Oklahoma fans live in a what have you done for me lately world
With the championship aspirations now in the rear-view mirror, what does this mean for the rest of the season? After three games, Oklahoma went from a top five team to being unranked, which in turn, places mounting pressure on the young athletes.
The fork in the road
As we have seen in the last week, administrators are becoming less patient with status quo. On the heels of the dismissal of LSU coach, Les Miles, it makes you wonder what is the tipping point. If Oklahoma is able to come up with a victory this weekend, it will quiet some of the doubters. Conversely, if Oklahoma suffers another defeat, those detractors may become more visible.
A couple of themes coming out of the Ohio State game and manifesting itself during the bye week, were leadership and replacing superstars. Can Oklahoma get championship caliber play out of the team? Can the senior leadership reveal itself in a tough environment?
Re-establish the goal at hand
Oklahoma knew it had an uphill battle to start the season. A hungry Houston Cougar team was determined to prove its worth. A talented and reloaded Ohio State Buckeye squad would come to Norman. Oklahoma was not able to pass the test. In fact, Oklahoma was largely ineffective in those contests. But, a conference championship still hangs in the balance. That road begins this weekend.
What happens next?
There is no dispute that Bob Stoops is the leader of this program. With that leadership, he will demand the same of his players. The question that remains to be answered is how his players will respond. The cupboard is certainly not bare in terms of talented football players. But does this football team have the ability to put it all together?
This game represents a pivotal moment for the program. By and large, TCU has struggled to stop the run on the defensive side of the ball. The Horned Frogs have also had problems with turnovers.
Can the Sooners change the momentum of 2016? Or will the perception of Stoops team under-performing continue? Saturday’s result will determine not only the momentum of this season, but this program.