NORMAN — An annual Big 12 Conference tradition has been for Oklahoma to enter the season as the favorite to win the league. It’s been that way more often than not since the 2001 season.
However, OU will enter the 2013 season as part of the pack, so to speak. The 10-team league appears to be the most balanced it’s ever been.
That doesn’t seem to change the Sooners’ outlook on the 2013 season.
“Win the Big 12 and play for the national championship; it’s the same thing every year,” center Gabe Ikard said Tuesday at Big 12 Football Media Days in Dallas.
The one thing that has changed for OU is that the rest of the country isn’t on board with the typical goals.
The Sooners average ranking in the Associated Press Preseason Top 25 is 6.37 since the poll began in 1936. Over the last 12 years, its average starting point has been No. 4.
Next month, OU will be lucky to crack the top 15 when the 2013 version is released.
The lack of returning starters, a new starting quarterback and the performance in the 41-13 loss to Texas A&M in last season’s Cotton Bowl Classic has left the impression OU isn’t ready to compete at a national championship level.
OU coach Bob Stoops admitted going 10-3 the last two years and sharing the Big 12 title with Kansas State last season hasn’t reached the bar.
“We needed to win 12 or 13 games instead of 10. Ten isn’t good enough and co-champs isn’t good enough,” Stoops said. “We’re trying to, overall, do everything in our program a little better. Hopefully we’ll coach better. Hopefully our players have worked harder in the offseason to be more prepared to make plays when they can make them. That’s what we’re trying to do.”