Before the season began, many were pointing to this stretch of three games as the defining moment for the Oklahoma Sooners' season.
The Sooners' ending stretch of games seemed as tough as any in the country: on the road against West Virginia and TCU sandwiched around a home date with Oklahoma State for Bedlam. Throw in the fact the Sooners would be doing that without having a bye week since September, and you had one extremely difficult schedule.
Fast forward from August to November, and the schedule is still quite daunting, although not nearly as much as it was several months ago. West Virginia has come down to earth, having lost four straight games after putting up astronomical numbers on offense in its first five games. TCU has had to deal with a quarterback change, as well as adjusting to the increase in competition from the Mountain West to the Big 12.
Who would have thought the toughest team out of those three would end up being Oklahoma State? No offense to the Cowboys, who have been playing excellent football for the past month and a half, but no one was projecting them to be this good in the preseason.
One thing that hasn't changed about this upcoming stretch of games is that it will define the Sooners this season. Up to this point, the Sooners have been defined by the two losses to Kansas State and Notre Dame, games in which Oklahoma was pushed around and exposed as a team not physical enough to defeat a team whose bread and butter is pushing opponents around.
The Sooners' remaining three opponents aren't KSU or Notre Dame, nor are they as physical as those teams, but Oklahoma can show it can push people around all the same.
The Sooners' success on the road this season is also at stake. Just two years ago, many were wondering what the problem was with winning on the road. They just simply couldn't seem to win a big game. Three years ago, OU won just a single game away from Norman and dropped five.
This season, the Sooners haven't just won on the road, they've dominated. In four games away from Norman, OU has won by an average of 23.75 points. If you take away OU's demolition of Texas, the Sooners have still won three road games by an average of 17.6 points. The Sooners are practically road warriors now.
However, these last two road games are sure to be OU's most difficult of the season. Both the West Virginia and TCU crowds will be very fired up to have OU in town, since both are new to the Big 12 this season. Both fan bases would love to have a win against OU in their first year in the league, regardless of how the rest of the season goes.
Needless to say, OU is going to get both teams' best shots.
So how is this OU team going to be remembered? Will it be remembered as a team that simply couldn't make the necessary plays to knock off two elite teams? Or will it be remembered as a team that caved down the stretch when there was adversity and no national championship to play for?
The next three weeks will tell us the true nature of this Oklahoma team and really, the program as a whole.