Crystal Ball Run Preseason Top 10
No. 6 – Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma in a Word: Unsatisfying
Oklahoma starts in the Top 10—and may very well finish there—but unless the Sooners win the whole thing, critics will continue to categorize them as disappointing.
Despite winning seven Big 12 titles since 2000, Bob Stoops’ program has been stigmatized as an underachiever. The Sooners added to that notion last season, blowing a shot at the BCS title game with a stunning home loss to Texas Tech and lackluster performances in road losses to Baylor and Oklahoma State.
Stoops brought back brother Mike Stoops to fix a defense that was shredded at times last year and hopes senior quarterback Landry Jones can rejuvenate his career, after playing poorly down the stretch last season.
Oklahoma is the clear-cut favorite in the Big 12 again. But, per usual, anything less than an appearance in the national championship game will be considered a disappointment in Norman.
Why Oklahoma Will Live Up to Billing:
The Sooners have more NFL talent than anyone else in the Big 12. Oklahoma has 14 players considered NFL draft prospects by NFLDraftScout.com. In comparison, Texas has seven.
All five starting offensive linemen return (102 career starts) in addition to running back Dominique Whaley, who led the Sooners in rushing despite missing the last seven games with a leg injury. When Whaley went down, so did the Oklahoma running game, which, in addition to the loss of NCAA all-time leading receiver Ryan Broyles, was too much for Jones to overcome.
Mike Stoops was the architect behind the best Sooner defenses of his brother’s 13-year tenure. Oklahoma has continued to recruit well, so Mike has plenty to work with at all three levels of his defense.
Why Will Oklahoma Disappoint:
Jones melted his go-to guy, Broyles, went down with a knee injury in early November. The Sooner quarterback tossed just one touchdown with six interceptions in his last four games. He’s got to play better, but still may not have the receiver weapons he needs.
If Jones struggles, Sooner Nation will start clamoring for more of a role for Wildcat quarterback Blake Bell, who became a fan favorite late last season.
You’ll know the Sooners are again underachieving again if a quarterback controversy develops.
Key Game: at West Virginia (Nov. 17)
The only other member of the CBR Top 10, West Virginia hosts the Sooners to open a brutal three-game finish for Oklahoma.
The Sooners return from Morgantown to host Oklahoma State, before finishing up the regular season at TCU.
On the Spot: Trey Metoyer
The touted freshman receiver, who shined in the spring, needs to make an immediate impact. Stoops took away scholarships from three receivers over the summer, most notably Jaz Reynolds, who emerged as a playmaker last season.
Metoyer will flank junior Kenny Stills, a deep threat that caught eight touchdowns last season. But Jones needs a possession receiver for the Sooners’ short passing attack, especially without a proven tight end.
Talented and explosive, but with several question marks, this is another typical Bob Stoops’ team. The Sooners are capable of winning the national title, but also equally capable of suffering a couple of unexpected upsets and ending up in the second tier of the Big 12.
A lot will depend on quarterback play, where Jones must turnaround last season’s late regression or face growing resentment from the fan base.
The defense also must figure out to cut back on the big play that tormented the Sooners last season.
If it all comes together, the Big 12 is the Sooners’ to win. But we’ve heard that story before.
Best Case Scenario: Big 12 Championship & National Championship Game Appearance, 12-1
Worst Case Scenario: Fourth in Big 12, 9-4.