Top 25 Preseason: Another College Football Playoff Appearance Is Not Enough For Number 4 Oklahoma

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Oklahoma has been on the brink of greatness for the past three seasons, but has failed to break through this glass ceiling and pass the college football playoff semi-finals. Is 2020 the year the Sooners break it and go on to the national championship? Coach Lincoln Riley has proven in his three seasons at the helm – all of which have resulted in 12 winning seasons – that filling the alignment holes is not a problem.

This year can be no exception. The Sooners are to replace Heisman Trophy finalist Jalen Hurts, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and several other stars who were part of the 2019 Big 12 champions. So what awaits Oklahoma in 2020? Let’s break down its season prospects.

Rewind 2019

Final ranking: No. 7 | Achievements: Grand champions 12, L 63-28 against LSU in Peach Bowl

Last season ended on a sour note in Atlanta with the Sooners exploding in the most embarrassing loss of the college football playoff era. But there were several bright moments. They won an overtime thriller on Baylor in the Big 12 Championship game, dominated rival Texas 34-27 and led the conference with 537.6 yards per game and 7.96 yards per game. Oklahoma was not a sneeze, but it surely left the program again to be desired.

Key Departures

  • QB Jalen Hurts: The 2019 Heisman Trophy finalist threw 3,851 yards, rushed for 1,298 yards, and had 53 touchdowns (32 passes, 20 rushes, one reception) in a stellar senior season after his transfer from Alabama.
  • WR CeeDee Lamb: Now a member of the Dallas Cowboys, Lamb caught 62 passes for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Sooners’ high-flying offense last year.
  • DL Neville Gallimore: The former senior won 30 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss as a defensive line anchor.
  • DB Parnell Motley: The third-team defensive back All-Big 12 had 41 tackles, one interception, a fumble recovery and 13 assists in his last college football season.
  • LB Kenneth Murray: The former hot-shot rookie was drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft after jumping into the NFL a year earlier. He led the Sooners with 102 tackles last season.

Who is back?

  • C Creed Humphrey: First All-Big 12 player and Big 12 offensive lineman of the year are back and will anchor the trenches.
  • RB Kennedy Brooks: “The Other” 1000 rushing yards for the Sooners last season will be considered No. 1 after Trey Sermon’s transfer to Ohio State.
  • WR Charleston Rambo: Lamb received 43 passes for 743 yards and five touchdowns last year, and will likely be number one this season.
  • OL Adrian Ealy: Humphrey anchors the middle of the offensive line, and Ealy sinks outside as one of the best tackles in the country.
  • DB Delarrin Turner-Yell: Yell had 75 tackles (second on the team) and 5.5 tackles for loss in a high school that was tested early and often.

New faces

  • QB Spencer Rattler: The likely quarterback starter and former free kick hope appeared in three games; he threw for 81 yards and a touchdown while taking a red shirt.
  • WR Marvin Mims: You could ask the third highest ranked member of the Sooners 2020 recruiting class to be a major contributor … especially if Jadon Haselwood’s leg injury keep him away for an extended period.
  • JUCO defensive tackles: Perrion Winfrey and Josh Ellison were the No. 1 and No. 2 junior college defensive tackles in the 2020 class, respectively. They will be key contributors to the lead for Oklahoma this season.

Critical games

September 12 – vs Tennessee: The Volunteers lead a six-game winning streak and have experience returning to the depth chart. They are still building under third-year coach Jeremy Pruitt, and that could be difficult for the Sooners.

October 10 – vs Texas (Dallas): Of course, the Red River rivalry is one of Oklahoma’s most critical games of the season. It could be a de facto elimination game for college football playoffs.

October 24 – vs Oklahoma State: Bedlam will descend two weeks after the Sooners have played in Texas. Who doesn’t love one of the most exciting rivalries in college football?

2020 outlook

The Sooners have won five consecutive conference titles, and nothing less than six in a row should be acceptable. But this does not end here. For this season to be a success, Oklahoma must at least make the national college football playoff championship. Yes, the title match – not the semi-final. This quest starts and ends with Rattler. If Riley’s quarterback magic dust works again, the Sooners can absolutely overcome the bump. Otherwise, they would still be competing in the Big 12 championship, but will likely exit the CFP with more than one inexplicable loss, which seems like an annual thing.



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