Oklahoma’s 2017 season ended in disappointment falling to Georgia in the CFP semifinals, but not many expected them to be there after the home loss to Iowa State in early October. OUtside of that loss, the Sooners controlled the Big 12 most of the way and they’ll try and do the same with a new quarterback this year. With 14 starters returning, they’re projected to win the Conference again with +400 odds to make the Four-team playoff and +1800 to win it all, sixth-best in the country (at 5Dimes Sportsbook). With the over/under at 10 wins, that places OU in the same range as a year ago.
Baker Mayfield is gone, but the offense isn’t expected to take a major step back after scoring 44.9 points per Game. Quarterback is still undetermined between former Texas A&M transfer Kyler Murray and Austin Kendall, but both have plenty to work with. Murray is the likely starter (+3000 for Heisman, down from +1600 after signing with Oakland A’s) after being the backup to Mayfield. His biggest trait is speed, which should work fine in this offense with Rodney Anderson (960 yards, 11 TDs and +3100 for Heisman) and Trey Sermon (710 yards, 5 TDs) still there. Those three could have huge seasons on the ground behind a line that should be a strong suit even with a couple players gone. The passing Game has plenty to work with, as well, between Marquise Brown (981 yards, 6 TDs) and CeeDee LAmb (741 yards, 7 TDs). Their stud quarterback is gone, but the Sooners could still have one of the best offenses in the country under Lincoln Riley.
The other end has often been an issue for Oklahoma and that should be the case again after a mediocre 27 points allowed per Game. That said, even with a few of the bigger names gone, Mike Stoops always has young legs to work with in Norman so talent won’t be an issue. Kenneth Murray is set for a big season at inside linebacker, while Mark Jackson steps into the playmaking role on the outside. Safety is a toss-up, but corner may be a strength with Tre Norwood and Parnell Motley returning. This defense isn’t going to be amazing, but as long as it can keep opposing offenses from dropping 50 points, it’ll be fine.
There are some tricky Games on the Schedule, namely the trip to Iowa State, but none of them are overwhelming. Texas is always a tough draw and that’s followed by a trip to TCU. The regular season finale at West Virginia could also have some title Game implications if Will Grier has the Mountaineers rolling. The Sooners probably won’t be as good as a year ago because they lost the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, but it’s not like there’s going to be a major fall off. The defense could have issues in a couple road Games, but the offense will be fine and should lead Oklahoma to 10 wins at a minimum. Taking the over 10 wins is a bit of a stretch due to those aforementioned road Games and the contest against Texas, which will be close to a pick ‘em.
2018 Oklahoma Sooners Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Florida Atlantic
Sept. 8 vs. UCLA
Sept. 15 at Iowa State
Sept. 22 vs. Army
Sept. 29 vs. Baylor
Oct. 6 vs. Texas (Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas)
Oct. 20 at TCU
Oct. 27 vs. Kansas State
Nov. 3 at Texas Tech
Nov. 10 vs. Oklahoma State
Nov. 17 vs. Kansas
Nov. 23 at West Virginia