It's comeback season for the Oklahoma Sooners. After losing Lincoln Riley, what seemed like an entire recruiting class, and starting lineup, the Sooners struggled in the 2022-2023 season. But fear not, Venables has been working this offseason to bring the best product to the field this season.
According to 24/7 Sports, Venables managed to bring in the #5 recruiting class for the class of 2023 and ranked #8 in transfers, the highest ranking of teams in the Big XII. I've said before Oklahoma won't be bad for long. There's too much good football deeply rooted in the school's history. With the school transitioning to the SEC next season, bringing in a top recruiting class and transfers is a good sign for things to come.
Let's break down each game for the Sooners, shall we?
Game 1 vs. Arkansas State. It's been since 2000 that the Sooners and Red Wolves have lined up across from one another. Bob Stoops and the Sooners made light work of the Red Wolves and walked away with a 45-7 win. Twenty-Three years later, I expect a similar result from Venables' Sooners. Oklahoma's Athletic Department would not pay Arkansas State $1.35 million to march into Norman and walk away with a win. Arkansas State will walk away happy from this game 0-1 with $1.35 million added to their bank account.
Game 2 vs. SMU. The Sooners and the Mustangs first saw each other on the field of competition back in 1925, and Oklahoma walked away with a 9-0 victory. More recently, the last time the two faced one another was in 1995. Oklahoma won 24-10. Oklahoma is paying SMU $400 thousand to come to Norman, and like Arkansas State, OU's athletic department would not pay a team to march into Norman and walk away with a win. The Sooners should steamroll over the Mustangs.
Game 3 vs. Tulsa. Oklahoma vs. Tulsa may become the new Bedlam since Mike Gundy is a little chicken and doesn't want to play an Oklahoma team with an SEC patch on their jersey. Personally, and I know this is a hot take, Oklahoma vs. Tulsa is a better rivalry than Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State. In 117 matchups, Oklahoma State has won 16.2% of the time, whereas, in 28 games, Tulsa has won 25% of the time. This matchup isn't as storied as the OU/OSU rivalry, but it could become something if they wanted to make it something. I'm from North Carolina and married into the Oklahoma Fanbase, so what do I know? That said, the Sooners will walk away from Tulsa 3-0 and $300k richer.
Game 4 @ Cincinnati. Here we go; time for some real football. This is the first conference game of the season, and the Sooners are traveling to... Ohio? Yes. Ohio. Okay. Both Cincinnati and Oklahoma had down seasons last year. While Oklahoma has been loading up this offseason, Cincinnati has struggled to crack into the Top-50 in the 2023 recruiting class and transfers. Cincinnati is not the same team as they were back in 2021, and for that reason, Oklahoma will walk away from Ohio a 4-0 team.
Game 5 vs. Iowa State. Iowa State is one of the few teams that have snuck in a win against the Sooners in the last ten years, but the Cyclones were one of the teams that lost to the Sooners in what was the worst season for the program since the turn of the century last year. Oklahoma will be 5-0 after this game, and depending on how dominant they are up to this point, they could be sitting in the AP Top-10.
Game 6 vs. Texas. The first real test of the season. Last season's 49-0 loss has got to be weighing on Venables's mind, and you best believe he has this game circled for reasons other than it being one of the biggest rivalries in college football. This will likely be a game both teams come in ranked highly in the AP poll. I expect Texas to come into this game with one loss against Alabama, but if Sarkisian is at all a good coach, he will take a lot away from that game and carry it throughout the rest of the season. A loss is not always the worst thing in the world, especially when the loss is against a team like Alabama. You can dial in what worked and didn't and use that information. That said, I expect Oklahoma to look at the Texas vs. Alabama game and study every play, every frame of film, and dial in what did and did not work for Texas and use it against them. Texas has won two games in a row twice since the turn of the century. This will be Venables's biggest test of the season. Today, I'm marking this one down as a toss-up game. But a win, and we could be looking down the face of the AP Top-5.
Game 7 vs. UCF. Coming into this game, the toughest game UCF will have played this season is against the thorn in Oklahoma's side, Kansas State. UCF is lucky they only have to play Oklahoma once and that the Sooners are not staying in the Big XII because this is a game they can mark down as an L every year. Oklahoma could walk away from this game 7-0 and in contention for the College Football Playoffs.
Game 8 @ Kansas. Kansas really thought they did something last year by making a bowl game last season. It's been since 1997 that the Jayhawks have been on the winning side of this matchup, and I fully expect the Sooners to extend their streak against Kansas to 19 straight wins.
Game 9 @ Oklahoma State. This is a must-win game for both teams. Gundy has been talking all that smack, and it's time for him to back it up. Considering he couldn't beat the worst Oklahoma team of the century, I doubt he can pull one off against a reloaded Sooners roster. Oklahoma will ride off in the sunset closing out the storied Bedlam series with a win, a 9-0 record, and sitting pretty in the AP Top-5.
Game 10 vs. West Virginia. West Virginia defended Morgantown last season when the Sooners came to town and sent Oklahoma home with a 23-20 loss. The Mountaineers rarely win against the Sooners, and at this point, I know I'm just repeating myself, but Oklahoma has reloaded, and they'll walk away from this game with a dub and ten wins on their 2023 record.
Game 11 @ BYU. BYU is one of the few teams in the nation undefeated against Oklahoma. Their last matchup was in 2009 when the #20 Cougars upset the #3 Sooners. It's time to flip the script. With the season winding down, every game is a must-win for the Sooners. We want a New Years Six bowl game, right? Venables and the Boys are locked, loaded and ready to go. Sooners walk away 11-0.
Game 12 vs. TCU. The final test of the season. TCU is coming off of a playoff-participating season, so we may see some of that playoff hangover from some teams that make it to the Top-4. This is very optimistic, but the Sooners could finish the season 12-0, win the Big XII Championship, and find their way into the College Football Playoffs.
How do you think the Sooners will do this season? Let us know in the poll below!