Oklahoma Season Win Total Prediction
Oklahoma used a devastating offense to earn a berth in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Can opponents provide a little resistance in 2016, or will the Sooners remain among the nation’s elite?
Handicappers certainly anticipate another whirlwind season in Norman. Online sports book Bovada.lv projects Bob Stoops’ squad for 10 victories. OU went 11-2 a year ago, ultimately losing to Clemson in the Orange Bowl.
Twelve starters return from that group, with the offense virtually looking the same. After a breakthrough sophomore campaign, quarterback Baker Mayfield’s poised to challenge for the Heisman Trophy. The Texas Tech transfer threw for 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns last fall. He also added 405 yards on the ground, making new OC Lincoln Riley downright giddy. Mayfield’s dual-threat prowess is unrivaled in the Big 12, so provided that health doesn’t become an issue, Oklahoma automatically has a ridiculous advantage at the most important position.
The improvisational whiz’s buddies in the backfield aren’t too shabby, either. Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon just combined for 2,102 yards and 23 scores. As those two continue to learn the nuances of Riley’s system, we could be looking at a Big 3 of sorts. It’s a truly scary proposition for rivals, to be sure.
At wide receiver, though, things seem a bit more murky. Sterling Shepard, who amassed 30 percent of the Sooners’ catches last season, graduated. Therefore, Dede Westbrook and Mark Andrews must rise to the occasion sooner rather than later. Protection should remain consistent, as Jonathan Alvarez, Orlando Brown and Dru Samia continue to build their reps.
In order to avoid a second straight January letdown, the D needs to step up. Considering Eric Striker, Charles Tapper, Zack Sanchez and Dominique Alexander all moved on, that promises to be a significant challenge. OU’s staffers adores end Charles Walker and linebacker Jordan Evans, but there are noticeable voids elsewhere along the front seven. The second level appears most vulnerable, particularly since Evans missed the majority of the spring session in recovery mode. (The hometown product suffered a torn pectoral muscle in that 37-17 defeat to the Tigers on New Year’s Eve.)
Kerry Cooks’ secondary is a capable, if raw, group. Cornerback Jordan Thomas and safety Ahmad Thomas made strong impressions in 2015, but did Sanchez obscure a few warts along the way? Perhaps this represents P.J. Mbanasor’s moment to shine. The former four-star recruit should get every opportunity to serve as the No. 1 boundary guy heading into the squad’s Sept. 3 opener at Houston.
Historically, Oklahoma has slipped up when expectations mushroom. While we love Stoops’ current cast, the Cougars aren’t exactly pushovers right off the bat. Then Ohio State visits Memorial Stadium two weeks later. The upper-echelon foes just keep coming in merciless waves. That’s why we can’t endorse a second-straight 10-win season for the Sooners, even though they remain head and shoulders above the rest of the Big 12.
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