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Oklahoma Sooners

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Oklahoma couldn’t overcome a slow start last season, yet still went on to win its final 10 games, going undefeated in Big 12 play and beating Auburn in the Sugar Bowl. More of the same is expected with Baker Mayfield (40 TDs, 8 INTs) returning at quarterback as he’s one of the early Heisman favorites. The Sooners are also one of the top favorites to be National Champion with +1600 odds (at 5Dimes Sportsbook) behind only four other teams to go with -120 to win the Big 12. These numbers got slightly bigger after Bob Stoops surprisingly retired in early June.

Getting to the top won’t be easy, especially with a trip to Columbus early in the season. Mayfield will be surrounded by a lot of new faces so that will also be something to keep an eye on with their top RBs and WRs gone. Rodney Anderson is the expected starter at running back if he can stay healthy, otherwise a couple freshmen come in along with Abdul Adams, who had 53 carries last year. Even with new guys carrying the ball, not many are concerned as the Sooners will still have one of the best offensive lines in the country with eight players returning that started at least one game a year ago. They are filled with depth and experience that not many can match. Receiver is also pretty bare, although they added speedster Jeff Badet from Kentucky, while Jeffery Mead is expected to take a bigger role and tight end Mark Andrews is still there. There are some new faces, but Mayfield and the offensive line remain and that’s about all this offense needs to succeed.

Getting to the Playoff may ultimately depend on how the defense performs and if it can return to its play over the last half of 2016. The secondary should be one of the better ones in the Big 12, which will come in handy in a pass-heavy conference. Cornerbacks Jordan Thomas and Jordan Parker are joined by Parnell Motley, who made a name for himself in the spring. The front seven has talent to go around from Matthew Romar on the line to do-it-all Ogbonnia Okoronkwo to Emmanuel Beal at linebacker. This defense struggled early last year, but eventually came around and a lot of those guys are back.

We’ll know early on if Oklahoma has to carve through the Big 12 or not if it wants to reach the Playoff because a loss at Ohio State could mean just that. A late road trip to OK State stands out on the schedule, as does the game at K State before that, but other than that, this is another serviceable schedule for the Sooners. Of course, Texas is supposed to be better and that game could also come down to the wire, which has been continually been the case.

With Mayfield at the helm, there’s no reason to bet against the Sooners unless you believe the absence of Stoops means everything. Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley doesn’t have much experience, but he’s coached an elite offense the past two seasons. Mayfield will be fine with new weapons behind a top offensive line and as long as the defense is slightly above average, there’s not much to worry about… outside of getting to the College Football Playoff.


2017 Oklahoma Sooners Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. UTEP
Sept. 9 at Ohio State
Sept. 16 vs. Tulane
Sept. 23 at Baylor

Oct. 7 vs. Iowa State
Oct. 14 vs. Texas (Cotton Bowl Stadium)
Oct. 21 at Kansas State

Oct. 28 vs. Texas Tech
Nov. 4 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 11 vs. TCU
Nov. 18 at Kansas
Nov. 25 vs. West Virginia

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