Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
Sam Bradford's return to Oklahoma's starting lineup tomorrow against Baylor is the best indication that the Sooners' real season starts tomorrow.
Forget about their 2-2 start that included a pair of one-point losses to BYU and Miami while the Heisman Trophy winner was out.
The Sooners have lost their chance to play for the national championship, but are redirecting their priorities to winning an unprecedented fourth-straight Big 12 title.
Bradford's return could be the adrenaline shot the Sooners need to turn around their season.
Obviously, the most important game for the Sooners is next Saturday at the Cotton Bowl when they meet up with old nemesis Texas. The winner of that game has the clearest path to the South Division title.
It would have been hard to imagine that Bradford would have been able to go into that game "cold" without experiencing any previous game action.
That's why the game against Baylor plays out so well for Oklahoma.
I look for Bradford to maybe work in the Baylor game almost like an NFL starting quarterback would tune up for the regular season in a late exhibition game. It wouldn't surprise me to see him play three or four possessions just to get his feet wet and see how his shoulder might hold up while making some throws and some game contact.
Bradford returns with a team that bears little resemblance to the record-setting unit that broke scoring records last season. Preseason All-American tight end Jermaine Gresham will miss the season with a knee injury. Top receivers Manny Johnson and Juaquin Iglesias are gone to the NFL. Top 2009 receiver Ryan Broyles is out with a fractured scapula. A retooled offensive line with four new starters has struggled both in pass protection and staying away from penalties.
It will be interesting to see what Bradford's return will mean for the Sooners.
But it certainly can't hurt.
And a Sooners season that looked moribund after the disappointing loss to Miami last week still has a little sizzle left.
Starting tomorrow with Bradford's return to the starting lineup.