Led by Heisman trophy winner Baker Mayfield, OU had a great run in 2017. Their offense was electrifying, averaging 45.1 points per game. Their only regular season loss came as a shocker when they fell to Iowa State in week 5. They faced TCU in the Big 12 championship and secured the conference title in convincing fashion. They fell just short of reaching the national championship game, losing to Georgia in devastating fashion in the Rose Bowl. Now, the Sooners look to make that final step in 2018, primed for a deep run with the ball in the hands of an exciting new quarterback.
Prestige Ranking (If NCAA Football existed): 5*
While they couldn’t get the job done at this year’s Rose Bowl, Baker winning the Heisman certainly bodes well for their ranking. They also have several Sugar Bowl wins and a BCS championship appearance in the past decade. Current NFL alumni includes Sam Bradford, Adrian Peterson, and Demarco Murray. The only thing they’re missing is a national championship.
Last Year’s Record: 12-1 (8-1 Big 12)
Projected Returning Starters
RB Robby Anderson, WR Marquise Brown , WR CeeDee Lamb, OT Bobby Evans, OG Cody Ford, OG Dru Samia
The obvious loss here is Mayfield, but it goes beyond that. The Sooners also lost Baker’s former favorite target in tight end Mark Andrews. But, a good amount of talent will return for the 2018 season. Running back Robby Anderson was extremely productive last year. He didn’t get the starting job until the eighth week of the year, but still managed to rack up over 1,160 yards and 13 touchdowns. The offensive line also stayed mostly in tact, although the loss of All-American left tackle Orlando Brown is huge. Wideouts stay consistent in the explosive Marquise Brown (1,095 yards and 7 TD’s) and freshamn breakout CeeDee Lamb. All these pieces revolve around quarterback Kyler Murray. The 5* recruit is a dual threat monster poised to take over where Mayfield left off. It’s a big shadow to come out from behind, but Murray has the potential to be another Oklahoma quarterback star.
DT Marquise Overton, DE Amani Bledsoe, DE Kenneth Mann, LB Caleb Kelly, LB Kenneth Murray
The defensive side of the ball was Oklahoma’s weakness last year. They gave up 27.1 points per game and were the 87th ranked defense in the nation. The team put up 31 and 48 points, respectively, in their two losses last year. Scoring at least 30 in a game should always be enough to secure a win; the defense has to be better if the Sooners want to make that next step in 2018. Both the defensive line and linebacker position should be in good shape with all of the returning starters. Caleb Kelly racked up 56 total tackles, while Kenneth Murray tallied 68. The biggest concern will be the secondary, as they are riddled with inexperience in the defensive backfield.
Tyroil Smoochie-Wallace All Name Team Member: K’Jakyre Daley
Key Losses: QB Baker Mayfield, LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo
Mayfield threw for 4,627 yards and 43 touchdowns in his senior year at OU. He was the best player in the country last year which is a huge loss to overcome. Not only was he an outstanding player, but his leadership will be equally as tough to replicate. On the other side of the ball, Okoronkwo had 17 tackles for loss in 2017 along with 3 forced fumbles. On a defense that struggled thoughout the year, Okoronkwo was the undisputed best player, and he leaves a huge hole on this year’s defensive unit.
Five Year Recruiting Rank (Bill Connelly): 11
The Sooners own the 9th ranked class in the nation in 2018, including 5* OT Brey Walker, who was recruited in state. The class also features twelve 4* recruits and is second to only Texas in the Big 12. Oklahoma has enjoyed six straight seasons of top 20 ranked classes and looks to continue the tradition of a recruiting powerhouse.
Outlook: Oklahoma will have a good chance to repeat as Big 12 champions in an imbalanced conference in 2018. Their biggest competition this season will be Will Grier and the West Virginia Mountaineers, but Oklahoma has plenty of reason to be confident in the upcoming season. Kyler Murray will lead an explosive offense in Lincoln Riley’s second year at head coach. The defense will ultimately be the difference maker for the Sooners. If they can at least keep the score close, the offense should be able to give OU a chance at every game. The Sooners will face two out of conference tests right out of the gate with games against Florida Atlantic and UCLA, but the Big 12 is going to be theirs for the taking.
Alcohol Prediction for Fans By Seasons End: Champagne. There should be a good amount of celebrating at OU this season. Boomer sooner.