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.