Big 12 Sports Articles

After Huge Finish to 2020, Oklahoma Sooners Should be National Title Contender in 2021

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at West Virginia

The Oklahoma Sooners‘ outlook for the 2021 season is better than any outlook Oklahoma has had since perhaps the super-talented 2008 season, when OU lost a nail biter to Tim Tebow and the Florida Gators. The Sooners are locked and loaded with a combination of talent, depth and experience that they simply have not had in quite some time. The Sooners look to return several top-notch players on both sides of the ball, and on special teams they have a kicker in Gabe Brkic who can absolutely drill it. OU ended 2020 as one of the most complete teams in college football. The way Oklahoma closed the 2020 season was quite impressive. After an 0-2 start to Big 12 play, OU managed to rattle off eight consecutive victories. That included beating Iowa State in a rematch to win their sixth-straight Big 12 title, and then winning the Cotton Bowl, rolling over the Florida Gators.

Oklahoma’s centerpiece around the entire operation is now red shirt sophomore quarterback Spencer Rattler. He is currently pegged as QB2 behind North Carolina’s Sam Howell on NFL draft boards for 2022. Rattler has rare arm talent and considerable moxie. Despite a shaky start, he became arguably the best quarterback in the Big 12 this past season.

 

The former five-star QB had a tremendous season, and if you throw in the crazy number of drops, he could have been an even greater one, statistically. With a year under his belt, Rattler is poised to be the early Heisman favorite in 2021 and will not have musical chairs at receiver that he dealt with in 2020. OU did not have its full compliment of pass catchers available in any game this season. Trejan Bridges missed all but the last two games, while Jadon Haselwood played in only two games, plus Austin Stogner missed several games, and Charleston Rambo missed time.

OU should have much better stability in 2021, and that will help.
Continuing the offensive discussion, OU is currently waiting on the news from Rhamondre Stevenson. Stevenson was reportedly given a 3rd round grade for the NFL Draft, but has the chance to really improve that grade with a good 2021 campaign. But either way, the Sooners are getting back Kennedy Brooks. Brooks was one of the best running backs in the country in 2018 and 2019. Brooks opted out of the season before it started due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Add in solid backs like Marcus Major and Seth McGowan really showing growth and the Sooners have no shortage of playmakers.

Then on the offensive line, Oklahoma simply reloads. Andrew Raym should fill in nicely for Creed Humphrey, who is going pro. Adrian Ealy also decided to go pro, which is a tough loss, but the Sooners still have a lot of offensive line depth.

The defense is waiting on word from Ronnie Perkins, but Isaiah Thomas and Nik Bonnito will return. The Sooners lose both “Tre’s” as both Tre Brown and Tre Norwood have declared for the NFL draft.

 

OU had one of the best defensive lines in the nation and is expected to continue that trend in 2021. Also, keep in mind that OU will get Justin Harrington, Jalen Redmond, and Caleb Kelly back, who were all lost before the season due to injury, and things are really looking up. OU’s defense has really been a dominant force with most of their opponent’s yards coming in garbage time, as evidence by their second-ranked (nationally) rated game control metric. The Sooners were so good on defense this year they gave up only 12 touchdown passes, but intercepted their opponent 16 times. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch deserves an enormous amount of credit for this defensive turnaround.

The Sooners should get serious looks at Preseason No. 1, but regardless they should be no worse than the No. 3 ranked team in the country in 2021. Sure, preseason rankings doesn’t matter much, but it does show often how talented a team may be. OU is heading into 2021 with all the hype, and rightfully so. However, the big question is how are they going to pay that hype off? Coach Riley knows how special next years team can be, can they reach their ceiling?

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