Back in February 2020, before live sporting events across the world were temporarily paused, sports channel ESPN began making predictions for the upcoming college football season. Among these was the forecast that the Oklahoma Sooners’ offense would shine, as one of the best offensive line-ups going into the 2020 season. The Football Power Index from ESPN clearly indicated the Sooners’ as the front runners for offense, with an elite roster for the third consecutive season under the leadership of Lincoln Riley.
The new season kicked off almost as scheduled despite concerns that the pandemic would prevent or delay college football from going ahead as planned. The bells and whistles opening celebrations did not go off as people had hoped for and there is still a possibility that the reimagined 2020 season will be fraught with interruptions and changes, with some of the top players having chosen to opt out on medical advice. Despite this, players and fans alike have entered the new season full of hope and prepared for anything.
The Oklahoma Sooners started the season with perhaps more hope than most, coming off the back of five straight Big 12 titles and hoping for a sixth. Media opinion is encouraging, with the Sooners hotly tipped to win the league championship once again by West Virginia’s sportsbooks as identified here. The poll of media covering the league found that 80 of 90 surveyed believed the Sooners would finish in first place. If they meet expectations, the Sooners will have won 14 such championships in the past quarter of a century of the conference.
The Sooners under Lincoln Riley have one of the best records for college football of any team and a large part of this is credited to the consistently good offensive line. Riley has been described as having a great offensive mind and has recruited a wide selection of the best players in the game today. Eight of the offensive starters from the previous season are appearing once more in 2020, joined by several new recruits that have the potential to increase the capacity of the Sooners to win big. Faces from last year include offensive tackle Adrian Ealy, center Creed Humphrey and wide receiver Charleston Rambo, all of whom were All-Big 12 picks in pre-season.
Eight of last season’s starters will also be returning on defense, including defensive end Ronnie Perkins, another pre-season All-Big 12 pick. However, Perkins will miss at least four games after failing an NCAA drug test and being temporarily suspended. The defense is also missing one of its best defensive players of last year, Jalen Redmond, who has opted out due to health concerns. Redmond, a potential first round pick for future NFL drafts, has had a tough year health wise, having undergone surgery causing him to miss all of camp and later being suspected of having contracted COVID-19. While it makes sense for him to rest and sit out for the time being, the team may find he is sorely missed.
With two key defensive players out of action, there is more pressure than ever for the Sooners’ offense to perform at the top of their game. However, as a former quarterback himself, Lincoln Riley is known not only for selecting a great offense, but also for recruiting some of the best quarterbacks of the day. The Sooners will enter 2020 with Brock Vandergriff and Spencer Rattler, who have both ranked top with the 247Sports Composite. They are joined by Tanner Mordecai, graduate transfer Jalen Hurts and conventional transfer Kyler Murray. Hopefully this combined with the strength of the offense can compensate for the fact that six of last season’s key starters for the defense have been replaced.
The much-lauded Oklahoma Sooners have kicked the season off with a bang, taking down the Missouri State Bears 48 – 0 on September 12. They will next face the Kansas State Wildcats on September 26, a team against whom they have a pretty solid record. Although Kansas were victorious the last time the two teams met, they have won a total of only 20 games compared to the Sooners’ 76 victories, while the teams have tied on four occasions.
Media and spectator confidence rides high that the Sooners will soon be in possession of their sixth consecutive Big 12 title. Lincoln Riley’s teams have gotten stronger and stronger and, although there have been several key changes made for 2020, the Sooners seem to have every chance of making all the way to the top once more.