Originally posted on College Football Zealots  |  Last updated 7/24/13

WACO, TX - OCTOBER 04: Head coach Bob Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners during play against the Baylor Bears at Floyd Casey Stadium on October 4, 2008 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
2012 Record: 10-3 (8-1 in Big 12) Head Coach: Bob Stoops (149-37 at OU, 92-22 in Big 12) Four Year Trend: 10 wins and 3.25 losses per year Last Bowl Game: 2013 Cotton Bowl: lost to Texas A&M 41-13 Stadium: Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, OK (capacity = 82,112) Home Field Advantage: ranked 32nd out of 69 BCS teams Schedule Glimpse: 2013 Schedule Link Non-Conference Games: 8/31 vs ULM, 9/14 vs Tulsa Revenge: 9/28 at Notre Dame, 11/23 at Kansas St Other Key Games: 10/12 vs Texas, 12/7 at Oklahoma St   Statistical Snapshot: 2012 Statistics Link Stat to Fear: gained only 16 turnovers in 2012 (9th in the Big 12) Stat to Cheer: converted 51.89% of third downs (1st in Big 12) Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 6th out of 124 teams   Personnel: Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 7, Defense: 4, Special Teams: 1 Key Defensive Returnees: CB Aaron Colvin (61 tackles, 4 INT), LB Corey Nelson (47 tackles), DE Chuka Ndulue (45 tackles, 4.5 sacks) Key Offensive Returnees: QB Blake Bell (11 rushing TDs), RB Damien Williams (946 yds rush, 5.38 ypc, 11 TD), RB Brennan Clay (555 yds rush, 5.97 ypc, 6 TD), WR Jalen Saunders (62 rec), WR Sterling Shepard (45 rec) Top 2013 Recruits: RB Keith Ford, WR Stanvon Taylor, S Hatari Byrd, QB Cody Thomas   Inside Scoop with Blatant Homerism:   CFBZ: Under Mike Stoops, the defense looked like it took a bit of a step back last year (especially on third downs and in the red zone). What should we expect from this unit in 2013?   Blatant Homerism: I think it's important to break down last season's defense a couple different ways. To me, the secondary and overall pass coverage actually took big steps forward. Mike Stoops is one of the best defensive backs coaches alive, and you could see how his presence impacted that part of the D right away. Technique, recognition, etc. - the improvement in the secondary in those aspects from the previous year was very clear. With veterans such as Tony Jefferson and Demontre Hurst gone, I expect a little dip from this group, but they're in capable hands from a coaching standpoint.   The big problem for OU last year was up front. The defensive line played a read-oriented two-gap scheme, and the front four barely put up a fight at times. The linebackers were almost completely phased out of the D near the end of the year. Opponents pounded the defense on the ground, and the Sooners struggled mightily to get into the backfield to make plays.   This year Mike is committing to more of a traditional 4-2-5 alignment. The defensive line has some talented, but young, newcomers and has transitioned to more of an attacking, one-gap scheme. The linebacker corps of Corey Nelson and Frank Shannon has some promise, and they appear to be reacting better to their new responsibilities. All in all, I expect to see better play against the run, but more busts in the secondary.     CFBZ: It seems like Landry Jones has been the starting QB at Oklahoma since we were kids. With his departure, does the mantle get handed over to Blake Bell or will someone else get a look?   Blatant Homerism: The competition between Blake Bell, Trevor Knight and Kendal Thompson remains open, but that's just semantics. If anyone but Bell takes the first snap against Louisiana-Monroe, I'll be stunned. I have little doubt that Bob Stoops and offensive coordinator Josh Heupel will defer to Bell's experience. From what I saw in the spring game, his command of the offense and general presence on the field far put him well ahead of Knight and Thompson.   All three quarterbacks offer some nice mobility, while Jones offered... well, none. Count on Heupel integrating more QB run game into an offense that has frequently sputtered on the ground in past years.     CFBZ: If you had to look at the schedule and pick out the biggest two games, what would they be?   Blatant Homerism: OU's schedule this season is rough. Road games at Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Baylor and Kansas State to go along with a visit from TCU and the Red River Shootout in Dallas. I'm going with tradition here and sticking with Texas and Oklahoma State as the biggest games of the season. Both games mean so much to the programs involved in terms of bragging rights. Not to mention, if OU can sweep those two, I like the Sooners' chances to win the Big 12.     CFBZ: What will make the 2013 season a success in your eyes?   Blatant Homerism: I think just about every Sooner fan I know gladly would take a 10-2 season from this outfit. I'd also feel a lot better if the young defensive line can flash some potential and Bell at least gives some indications that he could be an elite quarterback.   Check off those three and OU would have some momentum heading into what could be a really fun 2014 season.   Verdict: In his 14 seasons at the helm of the Sooners, Bob Stoops has led Oklahoma to 11 double-digit win seasons. Not too bad. He's also won 92 of 114 conference games. When you look at a team like Oklahoma there is little doubt that they will be successful this season, the question is how successful? On offense, the Sooners must replace Landry Jones and his 4,000 yards passing and 30 TD from last season. Blake Bell got a lot of action last year as he played in 13 games but most of that was running the football as he had 59 rushes vs just 16 passes. As a junior he should be very familiar with the offense and should be able to step in and command control of the team. The Sooners return both of their top two leading rushers. At receiver they lose their top two targets but return some good talent in Jalen Saunders, Sterling Shepard, Trey Metoyer and Trey Millard. A wildcard is Jaz Reynolds. The offensive line returns 85 starts off of a unit that gave up just 15 sacks in 2012 but they need to improve on their run blocking. The defense wasn't bad last season but they did give up more points and yards than the previous year. They also went from allowing a league best 30.61% conversion rate on third downs to 41.58% which ranked them near the bottom of the league (only WVU and Baylor were worse). Anytime you change coordinators there is going to be a bit of a learning curve and it will be interesting to see the changes made in year two under DC Mike Stoops. Allen talked in the Q&A about the defensive line being a weakness and OU will have the opportunity for several to step up as they lose the majority of players off of the line. The leading returnee is DE Chuka Ndulue, who had 45 tackles but the next closest returning player had just 12 tackles. Keep an eye on JUCO DT Quincy Russell as he should get a chance to play immediately and could help plug up the middle for the Sooners. To me, the Big 12 looks like it's ready for a year where there is no clear cut dominant team and it will be survival of the fittest. The Sooners have a tough schedule with road trips to Notre Dame, Baylor, K-State and Okie State as well as the neutral field game against Texas. While the schedule looks tough, the defense has question-marks and they will be breaking in a new starting QB it's tough to go against the track record of Bob Stoops. I look for the Sooners to have another double-digit win total but will need some breaks (just like any team does) if they want to go further. Prediction: 10-2   Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews: ACC- Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, Pittsburgh, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest Big 12- Kansas, Kansas St, Texas Tech Big Ten- Illinois,  Indiana,  Iowa,  Minnesota,  Nebraska,  Northwestern,  Purdue C-USA- ECU, FAU, FIU, Louisiana Tech, Marshall, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss, Tulsa, Tulane, UAB, UTEP, UTSA Independent: Army, BYU, Idaho, Navy, New Mexico St, Old Dominion MAC- Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, EMU, Kent State, Miami (OH), Ohio, Toledo, UMass, WMU MWC- Air Force, Colorado St, Fresno St, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, SDSU, SJSU, UNLV, Utah St, Wyoming Pac-12- Arizona, Cal, Washington State SEC- Arkansas, Missouri, Vanderbilt Sun Belt- Arkansas State, Georgia State, Louisiana, South Alabama, Texas State, Troy, ULM, WKU The American-  Cincinnati,  Houston,  Memphis,  Rutgers,  SMU,  Temple, UCF, UConn, USF  
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