With some key pieces returning from a team that went 11-2 with a huge win in the Allstate Sugar Bowl over the feared Alabama Crimson Tide, the Sooners look to be a force during the 2014 season — even more so than they were in 2013.
Bob Stoops will look to join elite company this season and win his second national title with the school.
As I stated before, the Sooners will be bringing back some key pieces on both sides of the ball, but the offense might take a small step back.
The most important position to fill on offense is obviously the position of quarterback and that is where the Sooners look most set — despite Stoops’ inability to name Trevor Knight ‘the guy.’ Teammates of the sophomore QB who led the Sooners to a win over the Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl with a career-best performance speak highly of him.
Knight finished the 2013 season with 819 yards passing with nine touchdowns and five interceptions in just eight appearances. He also showed the ability to tuck and run, accounting for 445 yards and two scores.
The Sooners are losing their top two rushers from 2013, however, leaving the running back situation clouded and the backfield uncertain.
Knight will have last year’s No. 2 target Sterling Shepard returning. The junior wide out caught 44 passes for 540 yards and six TDs last year. He will most likely be Knight’s favorite target.
Oklahoma had one of the top defenses in the nation in 2013. Ranking 18th in the country in yards allowed per game, the Sooners didn’t disappoint when it came to the scoreboard, either, allowing just 22.1 points per game — good for 22nd best in all of college football.
However, just because a defense looks solid heading into the 2014 season, doesn’t mean it will perform how it was expected to. Losing top tackler and star linebacker Frank Shannon to suspension for the entire season will hurt tremendously. While the loss of Shannon will hurt the team’s linebacking corps, the return of stud sophomore LB Dominique Alexander will ease the blow.
Don’t forget the return of blitzing linebacker Eric Striker who led the team with 6.5 sacks and also accounted for 50 total tackles.
Although the Sooners might be preseason favorites to take home the Big 12 crown, they won’t have the easiest road to this year’s playoff.
With a schedule that seems to get tougher as the season progresses, the Sooners better get their worst football out of the way early in the season against a couple nonconference cupcakes.
Good news for the Sooners is that most of the tough games on their schedule come at home, giving them an advantage when it comes to the Big 12 race. I’m predicting Oklahoma finishes with an 11-1 regular season record and a conference title. One loss may be enough to get them in the four-team playoff in January.
Connor Muldowney is a columnist for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. You can also reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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