Oklahoma is stuck in a rut. The last two years Oklahoma has been voted No.1 in the Big 12 preseason polls by the media, and even though both years were 10 win seasons, it feels as though Oklahoma has underperformed. Oklahoma has once again received lip service from the media, being voted No.2 in the Big 12 football preseason poll, just a hair below No.1. Does Oklahoma deserve to be ranked this high given their previous performances? The Sooners definitely have the offense to warrant that ranking, and the coaching talent as well. But Oklahoma has a lot to prove before I'm convinced that they is the near Big 12 favorites. Oklahoma has to rebuild and almost decimated defensive front seven, as well as replacing four year starter QB Landry Jones. The Sooners will also have to play one the Big 12's hardest schedules that features eleven teams that were bowl eligible a year ago including road games at Notre Dame, at Oklahoma State, at Kansas State, at Baylor and practically at Texas (Dallas). 10 win seasons haven't been that impressive in Norman lately, but a 10 win season this year would be amazing.
2012 Record: 10-3 (8-1)
Returning Starters: 12 (7 OFF, 4 DEF, 1 ST)
Key Losses on Offense: QB Landry Jones (4267 yds. 30 TD), WR Justin Brown (879 yds. 5 TD), WR Kenny Stills (959 yds. 11 TD), OT Lane Johnson
Key Losses on Defense: DE David King, CB Demontre Hurst, S Tony Jefferson, S Javon Harris
Head Coach: Bob Stoops: 149-37 (15th Year)
Offense is never in short supply in Norman, and this season won't be any different. Oklahoma returns their two top rushers in RB Damien Williams (946 yds. 11 TD), RB Brennan Clay (555 yds. 6 TD) and All Big 12 first team FB Trey Millard. Clay and Williams will get the privilege of rushing behind an offensive line that returns four starters including All Big 12 first team C Gabe Ikard. The Sooners may lose their top two wide receivers Kenny Stills and Justin Brown, but Oklahoma still has their next six best receivers including WR Jalen Saunders (829 yds. 3 TD) and WR Sterling Shepard (621 yds. 3 TD). All Oklahoma needs is a serviceable quarterback, and that man will be Blake Bell. Even though Bell will be starting for the first time in his career, he shouldn't find it that hard to score considering all the offensive weapons around him.
Weakness/Questions: Defensive Front Seven and Quarterback
Oklahoma wasn't the best at stopping the rush, in fact, some would say they were terrible at it, allowing 192 rushing yards a game. With LT Chuka Ndulue (43 TOT) and LB Corey Nelson (45 TOT) being the only starters returning to the front seven, Oklahoma can't expect their rush defense to improve. Luckily the Sooners can rely on their secondary, that was the 29th best pass defense in the nation, that returns S Gabe Lynn (34 TOT) and All Big 12 first team CB Aaron Colvin (52 TOT). Oklahoma will also have a slight adjustment to the offense, a new quarterback. Bob Stoops was discrete at the Big 12 Media Days that he has yet to name a starter, though we all know it is probably going to be Junior QB Blake Bell (107 yds.). Bell saw limited action last season, but impressed at Oklahoma's spring game, completing 14 of 23 passes for 213 yards and 2 TD. With all the talent on offense surrounding Bell, we should be seeing more and more improvement out of him.
Projected Record: 8-4 (6-3)
Bowl Game: Valero Alamo Bowl