Despite having some success on my preseason predictions last season, I would be lying if I said I felt confident in coming anywhere close to getting it right this season. I’m usually wildly optimistic about the Sooners pretty much every year, but with some significant roster changes and a second year head coach, the crystal ball seems much hazier than last season.
So while most of these will probably be wrong, at least we might end up having a good laugh at this article in a few months.
1. Kyler Murray will win the starting QB job
Sure, Kyler Murray has seemed to be the obvious choice at quarterback this season pretty much since he transferred into Oklahoma. But considering that we are just ten days out without a starting quarterback announcement from Lincoln Riley, I think the job is legitimately up in the air.
I’m sure Austin Kendall is a fine quarterback. He redshirted last season, so we haven’t seen much of him since 2016 when he backed up Baker and dropped some questionable bulletin board material before the Ohio State game. While he looked like a “basic” quarterback in most of his snaps, a lot has changed since then. He probably has improved.
However, if anything this just shows me that Murray might not be the elite we think he will be.
Don’t get me wrong, Murray is without a doubt a supreme athlete. We saw quite a bit of the Texas A&M transfer last season, usually in strategic situations, such as coming in for an “injured” Baker against Ohio State or being apart of a baffling two quarterback set in the biggest game of the year (pardon me while I scream into a pillow). However, we very rarely saw him throw in volume, with the one exception being the season opener against UTEP (10/11 for 149 yards and one TD).
Replacing a Heisman winner is a tough act to follow, but replacing the most accurate quarterback in the history of the game? That’s damn near impossible. I suspect that the passing aspect of Murray’s game is the thing holding the decision back, but in the end Murray just has too much upside to pass up.
(Edit: that was easy.)
2. OU will not cover the spread in any of the first four games (FAU, UCLA, Iowa State and Army)
Not exactly a murder’s row, I know. But with OU riding high from last season’s massive success and the relative lack of a brand name opponent, I can see Vegas putting the Sooners as a high favorite for most of these. While I don’t think Oklahoma will lose any of these games (more on that in a moment), I think all of them have the potential to really put a scare into the hearts of everyone in crimson.
FAU, for reasons I’ll go in great depth on next week, is an upset waiting to happen. UCLA lost star quarterback Josh Rosen, but gained a genius head coach (in college, anyways) in Chip Kelly. Iowa State not only beat OU last season, but is playing this game at home with key contributors David Montgomery and Kyle Kempt returning along with one of the best defenses in the Big 12. Army runs the triple option, which should worry anyone who watched the Rose Bowl last season.
Despite this, I firmly believe that OU is better than all these teams. There aren’t any Ohio States lurking this time around. However, the Sooners must grow up quick in order to survive September unscathed.
3. Rodney Anderson will be a dark horse Heisman candidate
One of the biggest surprises from last season was the sudden rise of tailback Rodney Anderson. After several season ending injuries, we finally got a good look at the Katy, TX product in 2017.
Early on, Anderson was just okay, with the bulk of the carries going to then freshman Trey Sermon and Adbul Adams (who transferred to Syracuse after the season). Hell, he didn’t even receive double digits carries until the Red River Shootout.
From midseason on, Anderson became an absolute workhorse for the Sooners. In a blink of an eye the man turned into Adrian Peterson with 100+ yard games in six of his last nine games, culminating in a 201 yard, two touchdown performance for the ages in the Rose Bowl.
While Anderson is a powerful downhill back, his ability to contribute to the passing game makes him a multifaceted back that is brutally hard to stop. Good luck to Big 12 defenses trying to figure him out this season.
4. The Sooners will go undefeated in rivalry games this season…
It’s late August and as is tradition the wave of sports writers and bloggers have emerged from their hole like its Groundhog Day to shout to anyone who will listen that “Texas is Back”! Of course this ignores the lack of a strong quarterback, proven success and apparently only having “some” elite players.
I’ll give Tom Herman this, despite being a total asshat, at least he’s honest.
Texas has made strides towards being a respectable team. But I’m not buying the yearly declaration of Texas as a playoff contender or even a conference contender. With that being said, I think Texas will bring a really good record into the Red River Shootout, giving the game the hype it deserves.
I also think the Sooners will match that hype, avoiding the usual grogginess we’ve seen the previous seasons. It’s always hard to tell who wins this game, but I have a motivated Sooner team handling the ‘Horns and sending the flag into the heart of the Cotton Bowl.
Oklahoma State has had a long period of consistent success rivaled by very few. However…this is going to be a definite down year for the Cowboys. While they still have star tailback Justice Hill, I think the loss of Mason Rudolph and James Washington will prove too hard to replace this season, especially if Taylor Corneilius is “the guy” in Stillwater. They won’t be bad, but this won’t be the year for them (it usually isn’t).
5. …but will lose 1-2 stupid games
The schedule sets up really well this season for Oklahoma. Which honestly is the first big warning sign that something bad will happen.
For the first time in over a decade, OU has seven home games, which is a huge blessing from the schedule gods. Not only that, the Sooners only play two games out of Oklahoma and Texas, traveling to Iowa State and West Virginia. I think they handle both.
But as is tradition with Oklahoma football, there is always a sneaky upset around the corner. This year, I’m predicting that one (or even both) of OU’s usual suspects, Kansas State and Texas Tech, will upset the Sooners in a game they should win.
K-State is always tricky. I just don’t trust Bill Snyder, especially in Norman. The Wildcats have beaten the Sooners two out of the past three games at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium and are bringing in an improved team. After surviving a scare in Manhattan last season, the Sooners better be ready for the Wildcats.
As for Tech…anything can happen in Lubbock. On top of the fans are the most ruthless I’ve ever seen, the Red Raiders actually have a defense now to go along with their pass happy offense. They aren’t great by any means, but Jones AT&T Stadium has had its share of season wrecking games.