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Top 25 countdown

August 25, 2008|Chris Dufresne

The Times' Chris Dufresne unveils his preseason college football top 25, one day (and team) at a time:

No. 4 Oklahoma

Sooners fans would probably circle the wagons and agree on this: It's just not good enough winning the Big 12 Conference title while ruining Missouri's national championship hopes.

That was nice, but it's time for Oklahoma to hit another gusher.

The numbers don't lie:

The Sooners have averaged 25.7 points in their last four Bowl Championship Series game appearances.

Not bad.

They also allowed an average of 40 points in those games -- all losses.

Not good.

"There isn't any one good answer," Coach Bob Stoops said of his team's recent lack of BCS success.

Entering his 10th season as Oklahoma coach, Stoops has already won a national title, in 2000, so you can't say he can't win the big one

But it's time for Bob's Big Boys to win another one.

This could be the year, provided Oklahoma can scoot past Chattanooga in its opener Saturday, hold off Cincinnati at home and survive a Sept. 13 game at Washington that involves another Northwest visit to a Pacific 10 Conference town -- remember what happened at Oregon! After that Oklahoma plays Texas Christian at home and Baylor in Waco before embarking on a Big 12 trek that ranges from treacherous (Texas in Dallas) to tricky (at Oklahoma State).

The Sooners won't have to face North division powerhouse Missouri until the Big 12 title game and get Kansas, Nebraska and Texas Tech in Norman.

Oklahoma should be 5-0 headed into the annual State Fair game against Texas at the Cotton Bowl.

The Sooners return nine starters from the offense that scored 79 points against North Texas, 51 against Miami, 62 against Tulsa and 52 against Baylor.

Sam Bradford threw 36 touchdown passes, an NCAA freshman record, last season and sophomore tailback DeMarco Murray averaged six yards per carry as a freshman before a knee injury wrecked his season.

The question marks are on defense, where the Sooners have to replace both starting cornerbacks, which is a concern in a conference with so many pass-happy quarterbacks.

End game?

Oklahoma under Stoops has won (2000 season vs. Florida State) and lost (2004 season vs. USC) national title games at the Orange Bowl, with this season's BCS title game headed back to south Florida on Jan. 8.

There's a chance Oklahoma could return to split the tie.

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The countdown so far:

25. Notre Dame; 24. California; 23. Fresno State; 22. Florida State; 21. Rutgers; 20. Illinois; 19. Penn State; 18. Oregon; 17. Tennessee; 16. Arizona State; 15. Texas Tech; 14. Brigham Young; 13. Wisconsin; 12. Kansas; 11. Auburn; 10. Texas.; 9. West Virginia; 8. Clemson; 7. Louisiana State; 6. Missouri; 5. Florida; 4. Oklahoma.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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