(In case you missed it, here is Part 1)
6. Bookie wins Big 12 Defensive Freshman of the Year, but is robbed of Player of the Year
Like pretty much every OU fan that has been paying attention, I’m all in on Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles. The five-star defensive back from IMG Academy is Florida has the potential to be an absolute game changer on a defense that really needs one.
Bookie possesses an insane defensive IQ paired with nuclear athleticism. In spring football, he played a wide range of defensive back positions, so he might move around a field a bit depending on how other personel shakes out.
If he lives up to the (well deserved) hype, you can consider him a shoo-in for Freshman DPOY.
7. Drake Stoops will contribute
Will he be good? I have no idea. (I swear this prediction isn’t based on that one hand catch in preseason camp).
To say Drake Stoops is undervalued is an understatement. A walk on from Norman North, Stoops is apparently getting attention in camp for more than just his last name. Despite his small stature, Stoops is a gritty receiver who gets the little things right. Realistic, it might take a year for him to see actual significant playing time with how deep the receiving corps is, but I could see him making a big impact in the slot.
8. The Sooners will win a record 4th straight Big 12 Title
This is a pretty down year for the Big 12 in terms of elite teams. Despite this, I actually see this being a pretty great year for Big 12 parity; I think we will see some major cannibalization between positions 2-7. Perennial top dogs TCU and Oklahoma State are going through rebuilding years, Texas isn’t fully back, and I think middle of the road teams like Iowa State, Kansas State and Texas Tech will be improved.
The one team I believe has major upside to break from the pack is West Virginia. They’ve been a trendy pick to win the conference this year with the return of Will Grier, but I’m just not sold yet. I think the rest of the conference is too good for them to finish without at least two losses and playing a late season Oklahoma offense in back-to-back games won’t be easy.
It’ll be a wild race to the finish, but you gotta take the safe bet in the Sooners winning their 12th (!) Big 12 Championship.
9. Oklahoma gets left out of the College Football Playoff
Scheduling elite home and homes is massively important in the Playoff era. Even if you drop an early game to an elite team, if you win out the rest of the way the committee has tended to offer a bit of an amnesty for the loss. Win the game and you have a sort of “get out of jail free” card.
The Sooners benefitted from this last season after the signature win in the Horseshoe against Ohio State helped wash out its baffling home loss to Iowa State. This season, Oklahoma doesn’t have that luxury.
While the schedule isn’t weak by any means (For example, no November games against The Citadel; Looking at you, Bama), it isn’t entirely impressive. Unless UCLA or FAU goes on an unsuspecting tear, OU will have to rely on winning out or a Big 12 team separating from the pack to produce its signature win.
Unfortunately, I don’t see either happening.
Even if OU survives its schedule with one loss, they will have to hope the Pac 12 champion falls apart (probably Washington, who opens against Auburn) as well as another conference failing to get two teams into the Playoff. I think the worst case scenario happens, sending OU to the Sugar Bowl. At least it’s in NOLA!
(Playoff predictions? Alabama, Clemson, Washington and Wisconsin. Yawn.)
10. OU avenges its Rose Bowl loss in the Sugar Bowl against Georgia
Damn would this be a good one. In their only meeting ever, the Sooners and Dawgs produced what was probably the best non-championship Playoff game to date. If OU missed the playoff, this would easily be the best timeline.
Georgia is going to be as good as they have ever been, but I think Alabama and Tua Tagovailoa are going to pull through to win the SEC, despite concerns about linebacker depth. Their toughest non-conference opponent (other than the yearly rivalry game against Georgia Tech) is Middle Tennessee State or UMass, take your pick.
Maybe I just want to end this relatively pessimistic series of articles on an optimistic note, but I just have a feeling that things would turn out differently in this one. This Sooners team has the skill and ability to compete with anyone when motivated and healthy. I would just see them coming out on top and avenging last season’s loss.
Still wouldn’t make the squib kick any easier to take though.