Oklahoma entered 2011 as national title contenders and the prohibitive favorite for the crown. So far, the Sooners have been as advertised, even if their ranking has suffered. Tougher early schedules and impressive showings have pushed LSU and Alabama ahead of Oklahoma in the AP Poll, but the Sooners earned some early-season respect with a win against Florida State on a rowdy night in Tallahassee, and injured FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel in the process. The Sooners erased an early 14-3 deficit to Missouri and beat the Tigers by double digits two weeks before a showdown with Texas on Saturday.
That game went exactly as Oklahoma would have liked, and the Sooners showed off their best performance of the season. Much to the delight of the rest of the Big 12, Oklahoma exposed an overmatched Texas team and rolled to a 55-17 win in the Cotton Bowl, handing Mack Brown his third-worst loss at Texas.
The reigning Big 12 champions still have to host Texas A&M and travel to Kansas State and Baylor, but the real major attraction of the season's second half may come down to a possible national semifinal in Stillwater against Oklahoma State. It would be a rematch of last season's 47-41 Oklahoma win with the Big 12 South title on the line. This time, a trip to the national title game may be at stake. Will the Sooners take care of business? History suggests yes.
Offensive MVP:Landry Jones, QB. Jones has continued his development this season with a fantastic start. He's distributing the ball to a deep receiving corps and has 1,815 yards with 13 touchdowns to five picks. He's fifth nationally and second in the Big 12 in passing, and while quarterbacking the Sooners, has himself in the Heisman conversation.
Defensive MVP: Frank Alexander, DE. Alexander has a case as the Big 12's best defender through the season's first half. He's been a big playmaker, disruptive and blossoming into the player Oklahoma hoped he'd become early in his career. He already has 5.5 sacks (second in the Big 12), 7.5 tackles for loss and has broken up four passes. He's got 28 tackles and even picked off a pass against Tulsa, returning it 27 yards. He forced a second-half fumble against Texas that was returned for a touchdown, too.