2013 College Football Predictions: Oklahoma Sooners BCS Odds and Season Preview: Armed with an accomplished senior quarterback and an experienced defense, the Oklahoma Sooners were supposed to contend for the national title in 2012. Instead, they settled for a tie atop the Big 12 standings and a trip to the Cotton Bowl thanks to a shaky defense and a bad habit of failing to deliver in big games. It didn’t take long for the season to go south as the Sooners lost at home to Kansas State in the third game of the year. Meanwhile, a pathetic performance at home against Notre Dame a few weeks later doomed any chance OU had at climbing back into the national title conversation. The Sooners did close the regular season with five straight wins, but after surviving 50-49 and 51-48 shootouts against West Virginia and Oklahoma State, they were trounced 41-13 by Texas A&M in their bowl game. While a 10-3 record isn’t bad, it isn’t quite up to Oklahoma’s standards either. Heading into the 2013 college football season, the Sooners have some work to do to prove they are still a dominant national power.
The Good News:
The Sooners return a ton of firepower on the offensive side of the ball. Eight starters are back overall, including star center Gabe Ikard and three others on a loaded offensive line. Meanwhile, running back Damien Williams is coming off a breakout campaign, and he leads a formidable backfield. Oklahoma also returns a pair of experienced receivers in Jalen Saunders and Sterling Shepard to an offense that ranked in the top 15 nationally in scoring and fifth in passing last year. On the defensive side of the ball, one of three returning starters happens to be star cornerback Aaron Colvin.
The Bad News:
Quarterback Landry Jones is gone after a prolific career, and Blake Bell is set to take over as starter. While Bell has already had his moments as a wildcat QB, “Belldozing” into the end zone from near the goal line is a lot different from running an offense, and he has thrown just 20 passes in his career. Meanwhile, a defense that was already the statistically worst in school history returns just three starters. The defensive line in particular has to be completely rebuilt, and the Sooners are attempting to break in a bunch of new starters while shifting from a 4-3 base to a five defensive back base set. Last but not least, Bob Stoops fired three assistant coaches in the offseason so there is a lot of turnover on the field and on the sidelines.
Although losing a QB like Jones will likely hinder the Sooners’ normally high-powered passing attack, Bell’s ability to make plays outside of the pocket with his powerful running style should actually play to the team’s strength. Bell’s rushing adds a new dimension to an already dynamic ground attack, and with Oklahoma’s excellent offensive line, the Sooners should still put plenty of points on the board even if it is by a different method than in past years. That being said, the defense is still a serious work in progress, and there are plenty of other high-powered offenses in the Big 12 waiting to take advantage of OU’s porous unit. Road games against Notre Dame, Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma State aren’t ideal either. That being said, there isn’t really a team in the conference that doesn’t have some flaws, and the Sooners’ offense is good enough to take them back to the top of the Big 12. A national title probably isn’t in the cards, but a conference title certainly is.
Prediction: 10-2, Big 12 Champions
Preseason Vegas Odds for Oklahoma’s 2013 College Football Team:
Oklahoma Sooners’ 2013 Odds to Win BCS Championship: +4000
Oklahoma Sooners’ 2013 Odds to Win Big 12 Championship: +250
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