OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE
It's going to be tough to replace linebacker Obo Okoronkwo. He was a freak. Still, junior outside linebacker Caleb Kelly is one of those guys who could dominate. Defensive end Amani Bledsoe does a terrific job in their four-technique stuff [when he lines up across from the offensive tackle], and guys like that are hard to find.... On offense, they lost quarterback Baker Mayfield, but they've got 6'1" junior tailback Rodney Anderson, who is up there with Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine. Quarterback KYLER MURRAY is a great runner, and you've still got to worry about his arm. They're so consistent because of what they've got up front.... Murray will have weapons around him. At receiver, junior Marquise Brown is dangerous. As soon as you think you've broken Oklahoma's momentum, that dude goes over the top on a post or on a vertical. You've got to commit a lot of guys to the box to stop that good run game, so you get left in one-on-ones a lot. That's not a good business with Brown out there.... I'll be interested to see how they replace [Mackey Award winner] Mark Andrews at tight end. Grant Calcaterra played a lot of snaps, so they might not have much drop-off.
BY THE NUMBERS
Years it's been since a Power 5 program (Florida) won four straight league titles—OU has won three.
Rushing yards per game by OU last season, most in the Big 12.
No Baker? No problem. The Sooners are still the clear Big 12 favorite, and with a better D they will be knocking on the door of another playoff.
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11--2 (BIG 12 CHAMPS)
11--2 (BIG 12 CHAMPS)
12--2 (BIG 12 CHAMPS)
With Baker Mayfield gone, junior AMANI BLEDSOE might be the one to keep the Sooners' streak of straight Big 12 titles alive. That's fine with the 6'5", 287-pound defensive end, who can't wait to play a full season. During his redshirt freshman year in 2016, Bledsoe tested positive for a banned substance and was suspended for a year by the NCAA. (He is suing to regain that year of eligibility.) After missing the final seven games of '16 and the first four of last season, Bledsoe made 19 tackles and had two sacks in 10 games. In OU's 3--4 defense, he will face double teams constantly, but he should still be able to disrupt opposing running games and pressure the quarterback.
@ IOWA STATE
@ TCU (14) [BIGGEST GAME][SI RANKINGS]
@ TEXAS TECH
OKLAHOMA STATE [KEY MATCHUP]
FRI., NOV. 23
@ WEST VIRGINIA (10) [KEY MATCHUP][SI RANKINGS]