Oklahoma Expected Win Total

I’m ready for the 2016-17 college football season to begin so I figured I would run through some of my favorite teams to highlight their strengths and weaknesses.  Above is a video with some of the highlights from last season and a little bit of hype for the Sooners in 2016.

Big Game Bob Stoops is gunning for his 10th Big 12 title.  That’s an incredibly impressive run that he’s had since taking over for this team back in 1999.

It’s easy to forget that Stoops was on the hot seat entering last season.  They finished 8-5 the year before and seemed like they had been left behind TCU and Baylor when it comes to modern offenses.  Yet, the year before Stoops went 11-2 and won the Sugar Bowl over Alabama.  Oh, how fast the tide can change in Norman.

The real down spot was losing to a not-very-good Texas team 24-17.  They might have had a letdown after beating West Virginia by 20, but it was inexcusable either way.

The only other loss came in the playoff to Clemson, a very, very good team.

This year’s team should be poised for another big run.  Stoops has 10 Top-10 finishes, 9 Big 12 titles, and his team’s have compiled double digit victory totals 13 times.  The latest win totals in Vegas show the Sooners expected to get to 10 again this season.

This year’s offense won’t skip a beat.  Sure, the Sooners lose their main receiving threat in Sterling Shepard, but they still have Baker Mayfield.  Mayfield was incredible in his junior season with 3700 yards, 36 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions.  He competed 68% of his passes and made Oklahoma fans soon forget about Trevor Knight.  He was also dangerous on the ground with 608 yards and seven touchdowns.

The running game isn’t too bad either.  Samaje Perine racked up 1349 yards and 16 touchdowns on 6 yards per carry, while Joe Mixon added 753 yards and 7 scores on 6.7.  The Sooners need that running game to keep pace.  In their two losses neither running back could get going and it put too much pressure on the passing game.

Mike Stoops heads the defensive side of the ball and he did an impressive job once again.  This team is built to stop Big 12 passing attacks so isn’t real big, and that lack of size showed against good running teams at times.  However, on the whole they showed an ability to stop both the run and the pass due to their speed.  That shouldn’t change this season.

So what is the concern about the defense?  I would start with the pass rush.  Oklahoma lost their best linebacker and defensive end.  There are plenty of talented players who could replace Eric Striker and Charles Tapper, but it’s a concern.  If this defense takes a step back I don’t think it’s going to be anything other than a lack of ability to get to opposing quarterbacks.

So how does the schedule look?  Not as favorable as it could be.  Houston will be tough to open things up, they get Ohio State at home, then travel to TCU after a bye week.  Baylor and Oklahoma State are both home games, but going to West Virginia in the penultimate game could pose a challenge.  Realistically this team is going to be a touchdown favorite in all of their games, so I can’t see them not making the playoff is Mayfield stays healthy.

Iowa State’s 2016 Outlook

Will there be something special going on in Ames in 2016?  It’s not very likely as first year coach Matt Campbell’s team is only projected to win three games this season.

The problem with Iowa State is it’s in a very difficult spot.  They are in the Big 12, but they are more of a basketball school than a football one.  They are competing for talent in a small state with the Iowa Hawkeyes, and those in-state neighbors definitely have a better history of winning and fan support.

That is why it’s tough to anyone to find success and keep the momentum going.  Dan McCarney had it going for awhile back in the early 2000s.  Paul Rhoads started out with three bowls in four years but finished 8-28.

How bad of a history does this team have?  They have won more than 7 games just seven times, including just one time since 1978.  They have the lowest revenue of any team in the Big 12 and just don’t have the talent to compete with teams like Texas and Oklahoma.

Personally I was hoping Iowa State would hire Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo.  Simply because they need to zig when everyone else is zagging.  The triple options and a power based offense would differentiate them and make it difficult to prepare for.

Instead they hired Campell from Toledo.  I don’t hate the move.  He did a great job of recruiting there and had better teams than the Cyclones in five of his six years.  You would think he could get guys who were interested in the MAC interested in a Big 12 school.

The good news is that there are low expectations in Ames.  It doesn’t take a lot to impress this fan base.  You don’t have to win Big 12 titles, you just have to make Bowl games.

There are some skill players that have potential.  Joel Lanning took over at quarterback last year and three for 1,246 yards on 55.4% passing, but had ten touchdowns to just four interceptions.  He’s only a junior and could shine in this system.

Mike Warren wasn’t bad at running back.  He had 1,339 yards and five touchdowns while averaging almost six yards per carry.  Plus receivers Allen Lazard, and Jauan Wesley both caught over 30 passes last year.

The problem on offense will be the line.  The Cyclones lost nearly every starter from a year ago so it’s a huge question mark.  And by question mark I mean I’m not expecting much.  However, if there is anything Iowa State is known for it’s turning those big Iowa farm boys into blockers.

Can Jon Heacock have the same effect with the Cyclones as he did for the Rockets last year?  Toledo was one of the worst defensive teams in the nation in 2014 but rebounded to the top 25 in 2015.

He does have quite a bit of juniors and seniors to work with, but they don’t have any experience.  To me that means they couldn’t have looked that good in practice under previous leadership, but maybe they just missed something or misused their skills.

Here’s the problem though.  The schedule is brutal.  At Iowa, at TCU, Baylor, at Oklahoma State, at Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and West Virginia.  That doesn’t look promising to rack up a few wins.  Four wins would be a success.