Oklahoma has won more than 10 games each of the last five seasons and six of the last seven.
But is that streak in jeopardy in 2020?
Lincoln Riley — 12-2 each of his three years at the helm of the Sooners — is breaking in a new quarterback this year (presumably Spencer Rattler, although he still needs to beat out Tanner Mordecai), and there is no CeeDee Lamb.
OU also lost three starters on defense (two to the NFL Draft, one to NFL free agency).
But five starters back on the offensive line, plus two-time 1,000-yard running back Kennedy Brooks and the anticipated emergence of wideout Charleston Rambo and others make the Sooners a strong favorite to win their sixth consecutive Big 12 Conference title.
That likely puts them over 10 regular-season wins, although a couple of challenges on the non-conference schedule will be worth watching.
OU hosts Tennessee (8-5 last season) in Week 2. Having an SEC defense lurking on your property while you’re training up a new quarterback isn’t ideal.
And the Sooners visit Army on Sept. 26. The Black Knights will be a heavy underdog when the teams meet in West Point, NY, but two years ago in Norman, Jeff Monken’s resilient bunch took Oklahoma to overtime.
There are hurdles in conference play, too.
After OU hosts Baylor and new coach Dave Aranda to open Big 12 play, the Sooners meet Texas in Dallas. The history of the series shows a clear advantage when one team’s quarterback has played in the game before and the other hasn’t. The team with the more seasoned quarterback is 14-3-1 in the series since 1990 — a trend that was broken when Jalen Hurts and the OU defense defeated Sam Ehlinger and the Longhorns last year.
Clearly, Rattler or Mordecai don’t come in with Hurts’ credentials. And anyone who studies college football knows this sideshow of the State Fair of Texas is essentially a ring toss every year.
Although the Sooners have won 13 out of 14 true road games under Riley (and had won 22 in a row before losing at Kansas State last year), there appear to be stiff road challenges in conference play this season.
OU goes on the road to Iowa State, TCU, West Virginia and Texas Tech.
The Cyclones have the Big 12’s best defense, the Horned Frogs handed the Sooners their last road loss before the winning streak, West Virginia has never beaten OU in Morgantown but the cross-country journey is the second of two straight OU road trips, and crazy things always seem to happen to Oklahoma in Lubbock.
Still, with the personnel Riley has this year, another 10-win season seems like a smart bet.
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