By Daniel Stober
A lot has happened in Norman since their Sugar bowl victory over Auburn. Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon, and Dede Westbrook have all left to start their NFL careers. Also this guy named Bob Stoops decided to retire. But that hasn’t changed the expectations of this Oklahoma football team. Already they are the favorites to take the Big 12 for a third year in a row. However, preseason projections are never to be trusted.
Running back has never really been an issue in the Stoops era. As soon as one leaves another “great(s)” takes their place. Quentin Griffin (99-02) was replaced with Adrian Peterson two years later (04-06). Followed by Demarco Murray (06-10); then the duo of Brennan Clay and Roy Finch (10-13); who were ultimately replaced with good-cop/bad-cop Semaje Perine and Joe Mixon. (14-16). This year we have the talents of Rodney Anderson and Abdul Adams to look forward to as well as Trey Sermon the freshman. The top eight players out of the offensive line will also be returning this year and with Baker Mayfield in the backfield it should be easy for these guys to get their legs under them.
Receiver may be a little tougher. Jeffery Mead, Jeff Badet, and Nick Basquine will have to discover which one will emerge as a star this season. As did Dede Westbrook did last season in the wake of the departure of Sterling Shepard.
Now head coach is a weird thing for me to think about. As a twenty-five-year-old adult, the only thing that I have ever known is the Stoops era. He was an icon of the program. How do you just replace that? You do so by promoting the guy who rebuilt the Sooner offense with his own two hands. Lincoln Riley is no stranger to the program with two years under his belt, winning the Broyles Award in 2015, in the shadow of Stoops; he is ready to leave his mark. Not many coaches just step into their first head coaching job in one of the most demanding programs in the NCAA. He aims to prove that otherwise by taking on play calling and head coaching duties at the same time.
My expectations for this season are a loss to Ohio State in the second game of the season and a loss to Oklahoma State in the ninth game of the season going 10-2. This would put OU in the Big 12 championship game more than likely against OSU again. I would then pick OU to win that game and its third title in a row but miss the playoffs and be in the Sugar Bowl against Tennessee whom I feel will have an up year.
Read our other Sooner Stories from this week: 3 Reasons why Oklahoma will and will not win the Big 12 in 2017. Why Baker Mayfield Will, Or Will Not Win The 2018 Heisman