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Oklahoma Football: Why the Sooners Are No Longer an Elite Program

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 08: Head Coach Bob Stoops of the Oklahoma Sooners walks back to the sidelines after a timeout against the Florida A&M Rattlers on September 8, 2012 at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Oklahoma. Oklahoma won 69-13. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
Brett Deering/Getty Images
Jacob KeyesCorrespondent IISeptember 24, 2012

There is plenty we can take from Oklahoma's performance against Kansas State over the weekend. But, the one thing that is most visible and perhaps hard for fans to swallow is that the Sooners are no longer among the nation's elite programs.

You can blame it on a lack of toughness or even bad coaching if you want. But, the real reason this program has dropped in status is plain and simple. Bob Stoops' team lacks talent.

Sure, they were killed by turnovers and mistakes Saturday night, but the talent-filled teams of Stoops' first five years at Oklahoma were able to overcome mistakes just by being better than the other team. The offensive and defensive lines are perfect examples.

There's no doubt the Sooners were destroyed up front. The offensive line couldn't open a lane for the running game or keep pressure away from Landry Jones. While the defense as a whole played better than at any point last season, it's very clear that the defensive front seven was not able to apply pressure to the Kansas State backfield.

Any time your top two or three tacklers are in the secondary, you know your defensive line and linebackers are not doing the job. Maybe they aren't able to do their job. Maybe the skill isn't there.

Recruiting failures are to blame for this fall. The great receiving class which included Josh Jarboe has, for the most part, disappeared. Now, the Sooners are paying the price. The suspensions and transfers of so many skill position guys led to the coaching staff recruiting so many receivers and running backs over the past two seasons that they were never able to fill the void up front.

It's obvious this team has talent at receiver and in the secondary, but until the talent level in the trenches improves, the Sooners will not be among the top programs in the country. At this point Stoops has his program in that second tier with the likes of West Virginia, Clemson, Michigan State and Oklahoma State.

Yes, I said Oklahoma State. Despite my previous thoughts on Mike Gundy's program, it has become clear to me that the Cowboys have caught up with Oklahoma. Or, maybe a more accurate description would be the Sooners have slipped to that level while Oklahoma State has improved.

All is not lost for Oklahoma. The "glass half full" guy can say the Sooners still had a chance to beat a really good team despite the three turnovers and horrible play at quarterback.

The defense is improved, and if they get better play from their quarterback, the Sooners can still win eight or nine games. Of all the teams left on the schedule nobody is ranked higher in the AP poll than the Wildcats.

The problem is right now most Oklahoma fans don't see the glass as being half full. Maybe that's because the glass isn't half full. It's probably mostly empty.

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