2019 Oklahoma Sooners College Football Preview
BET ON THE OKLAHOMA SOONERS
Oklahoma Memorial Stadium
86,112 Seat Stadium
Last year’s record (12-2, 8-1 Big 12)
Head Coach: Lincoln Riley
Record at School (24-4) 2 years
Career Record (24-4) 2 years
Can Oklahoma make it three straight years into the college football playoffs? The offensive stats have been remarkable the past two seasons, almost unstoppable. The defensive stats have not been pretty.
They had plenty of close calls last season thanks to that defense. How did Army take them into overtime? The only regular season loss was to Texas who outscored them 48-45. Texas Tech, West Virginia and Oklahoma State nearly did the same thing. Even Kansas put 40 points on the board against them.
They did get revenge on Texas in the Big 12 Championship game, but lost to Alabama in the semi-finals in a game where once again the defense could not do its job. They were 114th in total defense last year and 101st in scoring defense. I could go on with so many defensive stats that were near the bottom in the country.
You have to wonder how this team reached what it did. If they had a defense great like some other teams, they would be mentioned with Clemson & Alabama amongst the great programs in college football.
The offense has been a machine the past few years. Baker Mayfield was at the helm in 2015 thru 2017. He left to become a Cleveland Brown. How were they going to replace him? It was easy with Kyler Murray waiting in the wings. He had an incredible season and moved onto the NFL as well.
Now what are they going to do? How about adding Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts. I am sure you all remember him. He started his freshman year at Alabama and took them to the National Championship game.
His second season was moving along nicely when he got hurt and some guy named Tua Tagovailoa took over. He served as a super backup last season. All told he was part of three playoff teams at Alabama. He should be the next great Sooner quarterback.
It may not be as easy as it sounds though. Oklahoma only has (5) starters returning from that unstoppable offense, but it is not as bleak as it sounds. Leading rusher Kennedy Brooks (1,056 yards) and Trey Sermon (947 yards) are back. The offensive line needs to be addressed with only (1) starter returning, but there are always huge guys waiting in the wings.
Oklahoma lost 1,318 yard receiver Marquise Brown, but WR CeeDee Lamb (1,158 yards) now becomes the main guy. TE Grant Calcaterra and his 28 catches comes back as well. If the O-line comes together this offense should be nearly as good as the past two seasons.
The defense was just plain bad last year. So coach Lincoln Riley brought in Alex Grinch, who left Ohio State to take on the challenge of fixing this defense. He means business too. With the 130th ranked defense last year he said, “If I could get #130 tattooed on each player, I would.”
He must be related to that other Grinch we all know at Christmas time. He is a very intense and aggressive coach. It sounds like he is perfect to get this group of underachievers playing better. You know these guys must have talent. Maybe with the great offenses they have had, they felt like they did not have to give their best effort.
Grinch will fix that. With (9) starters coming back, he is not dealing with a group of rookies. I would bet just about anything this stop unit shows considerable improvement in 2019.
OKLAHOMA SPECIAL TEAMS
The best and most experienced part of the special teams will be the return game. With speedy Brown & Lamb handling those chores. They will be going with all new kickers this season. The new kicker may be hard pressed to match last year’s kicker who made 17 of 19 field goals.
2019 OKLAHOMA SOONERS OUTLOOK
Let’s face it, nobody is in the same category as Alabama & Clemson right now. But Oklahoma is right there with a handful of teams that fall into the 3rd & 4th spot fighting for a postseason position. The schedule is not overwhelming. The toughest competition comes at home.
As long as the offensive line comes together, and they have two games to do it before heading to UCLA, this team should win their conference. This team has had success with a horrible defense. That is going to change this season. Anything less than a playoff appearance will be considered a down year in Norman.
For that matter, they are due to take it one step further and make the Championship game. That may all depend if Alabama and Clemson would be in the same half of the bracket this season.
BETONLINE has listed the regular season win total at 10½. That is a high number, but that is what you would expect from Oklahoma. With 12 regular season games, you are basically betting if the team is going to lose two games this season or not. The past few years with a horrible defense there have always been games they could have lost.
I am expecting the defense to finally play much better this season and that should take away those games that were iffy last season. They are capable of running the table and I definitely do see them losing two games. I am taking OVER 10½ wins.