OU's 'real season' begins

OU begins Big 12 play this weekend and now the Sooners are ready for their big tests.

You have to look at a college football season in stages. For Oklahoma, the first stage is in the books with a nice check mark after it.

The Sooners did exactly what they needed to do during their first three games of the season. It might not mean much toward the end of the season depending on how things shake out with Tennessee, but OU’s comeback in Knoxville could be the catalyst to something special.

But we’re a long ways away from that. The Sooners showed heart that night, heart perhaps that wasn’t always there in 2014. It’s only one piece of the puzzle, however.

The next piece starts this weekend with undefeated and ranked West Virginia coming to town. The Mountaineers, like the Sooners, have done exactly what they were looking to accomplish during their first three games.

West Virginia boasts a solid defense, perhaps the best in the conference based on what we’ve seen in the first month of the season.

The Big 12 opened conference play with a bang last week, and OU and West Virginia are happy to join that party this weekend.

“It’s always exciting to start conference play,” quarterback Baker Mayfield said. “That’s the thing we’ve been focusing on. Focus on the Big 12 championship first and see what happens after that. It’ll be good to get it going.”

This game might prove to be the exception to the rule. If you love defense, the Big 12 conference this season is not the place for you. Games like TCU’s wild 55-52 win at Texas Tech last weekend will most likely be commonplace in the wide open Big 12.

West Virginia is the team, at least on paper, who could prove to be different. This is the best Mountaineer defense in a long time, anchored in the secondary by safety Karl Joseph and cornerback Daryl Worley.

Neither team was considered much of a factor in the Big 12 championship race back in August. This game should eliminate one of them from contention, while perhaps boost the other one into the top echelon at the same time.

No matter where you look, there are flaws. For everything Baylor has on offense, it’s still lacking something on defense. Despite Trevone Boykin, the Horned Frogs are not who they are because of injuries.

Oklahoma State passed its first test in Austin but shaky quarterback play from Mason Rudolph against the Longhorns could be a concern.

Nobody is perfect, no matter how you slice it. Same goes for the Sooners as OU’s defense looks to bounce back after giving up more than 600 yards to Tulsa two weeks ago.

The 11 a.m. start doesn’t help matters, but it can’t be viewed as an excuse.

"For the fans, we need them loud," senior center Ty Darlington said. "I think we experienced at Tennessee what a crowd can do to a game and how the crowd can affect a game. I've never experienced like anything like that before. If we can have that on our end, for our home games and the way Tennessee affected us, that would be incredible.”

It’s a wide open Big 12, any one of six/seven teams can be a contender. We’ll get our first answer about whether the Sooners are one of them this weekend.

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