If you’re thinking the retirement of Bob Stoops means Oklahoma Sooners football is going to slide, you better think again. It was just a matter of time before Lincoln Riley became a college head coach, it just happened to come quicker than most expected. And the oddsmakers don’t seem too concerned about the coaching change with the Sooners pegged as a big favorite to win their third straight Big 12 title. There are question marks around the rest of the conference, but OU has Heisman candidate Baker Mayfield back running the show, and that should be enough to get them to the Big 12 Championship game.
2016 Record: 11-2 SU, 7-6 ATS, 6-7 O/U
2017 Regular Season Win Total: 9.5
National Championship Odds: +1700
Odds To Win Big 12: -115
Behind an offense that marched up and down the field at will against its opponents, OU hit the 11-win mark for the second consecutive season and for the third time in the last four. A lot was expected of the Sooners coming off their CFP semifinal appearance the season prior and a return trip was expected. But OU’s two losses came in the first three weeks, dashing any hopes of getting back to the playoff.
There was a special teams breakdown in the season-opening loss to Houston, and even though the offense moved the football, it couldn’t convert in a 45-24 loss to Ohio State. OU looked like the team we expected after the Buckeyes left town, but opening the year 1-2 put the Sooners in a big hole that nine consecutive wins couldn’t get them out of.
The Sooners rolled through Big 12 play posting the first undefeated league record since 2009. They ended the regular season and claimed another league title by whacking their nearest competition, Oklahoma State and West Virginia by a combined score of 94-48. Mayfield led the nation’s second-ranked offense by throwing for nearly 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns to finish third in the Heisman Trophy race.
The goal in Norman is always a national championship and for the first time in nearly two decades, someone other than Stoops will be calling the shots from the sideline. Riley was being groomed for a head coaching job and now he get the opportunity of a lifetime. The Sooners are loaded on both sides of the ball but need some playmakers to emerge on offense to be as explosive as last season.
Mayfield runs the show but he’ll be without a few weapons from last season. Gone are Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine and Dede Westbrook and the competition is stiff to fill the roles. The two backs combined to run for 2,334 yards and 22 touchdowns while Westbrook more than doubled the output of the next leading receiver with his 80 catches, 1,524 yards and 17 scores. However, there’s no shortage of talent to slip into this offense to work behind the best line in the Big 12.
If you just looked at the numbers, nothing the defense did screamed national championship. The Sooners ranked 82nd nationally in total yards allowed per game, but that number was good for fifth in the Big 12 and it was just seven yards per game out of the second spot. There’s plenty of offense in the league and the Sooners will hold their own with a strong secondary led by Jordan Thomas and Steven Parker. The road to the CFP will literally be won on the road. The Sooners play at Ohio State and visit Oklahoma State and Kansas State, two of the top contenders to the Big 12 throne.
Week 1: Oklahoma vs. UTEP, Saturday, September 2
Week 2: Oklahoma at Ohio State, Saturday, September 9
Week 3: Oklahoma vs. Tulane, Saturday, September 16
Week 4: Oklahoma at Baylor, Saturday, September 23
Week 6: Oklahoma vs. Iowa State, Saturday, October 7
Week 7: Oklahoma vs. Texas, Saturday, October 14 (Dallas, TX)
Week 8: Oklahoma at Kansas State, Saturday, October 21
Week 9: Oklahoma vs. Texas Tech, Saturday, October 28
Week 10: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, Saturday, November 4
Week 11: Oklahoma vs. TCU, Saturday, November 11
Week 12: Oklahoma at Kansas, Saturday, November 18
Week 13: Oklahoma vs. West Virginia, Saturday, November 25
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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