Sooners, Cowboys have plenty of work to do 

There was talk during preseason about how Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both could very well be undefeated when they renew the Bedlam rivalry for the 104th time in November. There was talk of Big 12 titles and possible perfect seasons and even a whisper or two of a national championship, if everything went as planned for one team or the other.


After all, both opened the 2009 season loaded with talent, ranked in the Top 10 nationally and eager to prove they were legitimate challengers for the BCS throne.

But talk is cheap. Hype, too. And national-title aspirations are nothing more than pipe dreams if you can't go out and back it up.

Just two weeks in to what promised to be an unforgettable fall of college football around these parts, OU and OSU are on the outside looking in, both victims of early-season upsets. The Sooners fell to Brigham Young, 14-13, during the opening weekend, while the Pokes were tripped up Sept. 12 by Houston, 45-35.

Just that quickly, the main conversation has transitioned from potential championships to troubleshooting.

And to add injury to insult, both programs lost key players in their respective setbacks, which will almost certainly affect future games and potential outcomes. Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford is expected to miss up to four weeks for the Sooners, while OSU is still trying to figure out how long an ankle injury will sideline All-America running back Kendall Hunter.

Still, all is not lost. The season is young, and despite their early disappointments, both teams still have big goals on the horizon.

Oklahoma has been in this position before. Just last season, the Sooners lost to Texas in week six, yet managed to battle back to earn a spot in the conference title game and eventually played Florida for all the marbles.

Meanwhile, OSU has a little more proving to do. No doubt Coach Mike Gundy has pieced together a squad worthy of consideration, but the Pokes will still be viewed as the little brother until they step up and beat both the Sooners and Texas.

Surrendering 45 points and losing to Houston at home is not exactly the confidence-builder OSU supporters were looking for from their defense this past weekend. Games against Rice and Grambling State should help right the ship over the next two weeks, and the Pokes are perfectly capable of winning all five of their games before they welcome Texas to Stillwater on Oct. 31.

That game could very well be the make-or-break contest of their season.

The Sooners, who rebounded to blast a lowly Idaho State team, expect a big test when they travel to Miami on Oct. 3. Two weeks later, the annual Red River Rivalry will unfold in the Cotton Bowl and a win their could be the springboard coach Bob Stoops' team needs to get back into the middle of the national title chase.

Right now, Bedlam 2009 is a long way down the road. A lot can happen between now and Nov. 28. Maybe by then, the Sooners and Cowboys will again be part of the main conversation within the college-football world. "Jay C. Upchurch

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Jay C. Upchurch

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