#6 Oklahoma Football 2020 Preview

Oklahoma Sooners
Overall Rank: #6
#1 Big 12
 Oklahoma Logo
Oklahoma continued its run of excellence under head coach Lincoln Riley in 2019 as they won 12 games, including the Big 12 championship. The Sooners returned to the College Football Playoff and they were the number four seed and went to the Peach Bowl to take on eventual national champion LSU. Oklahoma ran into a buzzsaw in the Tigers as they blew out the Sooners 63-28 in a game that wasn’t even that close. The obvious next step for the program is to advance to the College Football Playoff championship game and to do that Oklahoma is going to have to get better against teams like Clemson, LSU, Alabama, and Ohio State.
2019 Record: 12-2, 8-1
2019 Bowl: College Football Playoff Peach Bowl vs. LSU (28-63 L)
Coach: Lincoln Riley (36-6 at Oklahoma, 36-6 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Cale Gundy and Bill Bedenbaugh
Defensive Coordinator: Alex Grinch
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Kennedy Brooks, RB, 1,011 yards
Passing:  Tanner Mordecai, QB, 207 yards
Receiving: Charleston Rambo, WR, 743 yards
Tackles: Delarrin Turner-Yell, S, 75
Sacks: Jalen Redmond, DL, 6.5
Interceptions: Brendan Radley-Hiles, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Rahmondre Stevenson, QB Spencer Rattler, DB Tre Brown, DB Jaden Davis, S Pat Fields, LB Dashaun White, LB Nik Bonitto, K/P Gabe Brkic, P Reeves Mundschau, H- Back Jeremiah Hall, DL Leron Stokes, DL Ronnie Perkins, OL Erik Swenson, OL Marquis Hayes, OL Creed Humphrey, OL Tyrese Robinson, OL Adrian Ealy
Key Losses: LB Kenneth Murray, QB Jalen Hurts, RB Trey Sermon, DL Neville Gallimore, CB Parnell Motley, WR CeeDee Lamb
Tanner Mordecai and Spencer Rattler are the two most experienced returning quarterbacks. They both saw limited action in 2019 and they both will look to replace Jalen Hurts. Rattler was viewed as the best quarterback of the 2019 recruiting class so you would think that he would get every opportunity to take over as the starter in fall camp. Kennedy Brooks is the leading returning rusher as he rushed for 1,011 yards, six touchdowns and averaged 6.5 yards per carry in 2019. Rhamondre Stevenson is back as well at running back and had a solid 2019 season, rushing for 515 yards and six touchdowns. Charleston Rambo will be counted on heavily to step up and replace the lost production of CeeDee Lamb, who was drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys. Jadon Haselwood came to Norman with a lot of fanfare as a five-star recruit and ended up catching 19 passes for 272 yards and a touchdown as a freshman last season. Haselwood will need to take a big step forward as a sophomore as UCLA grad transfer Theo Howard is recovering from an Achilles injury. The offensive line will come back pretty much intact, which will buy Coach Riley and the staff plenty of time to bring along whomever wins the starting quarterback job in 2020.
Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch did a pretty good job in 2019 of making productive strides with the Sooner defense. Oklahoma limited teams to just 356.4 yards per game of total offense, which is a good starting point for the defense. Looking ahead to 2020, the next step for the defense is to become more dominant across the board on a consistent basis. The Big 12 is not a league that is conducive to lights out defense but improving enough to be a top 20 defense is not unreasonable of an expectation. Jalen Redmond is the top returning pass rusher with 6.5 sacks last season and, if he gets that number closer to ten, that will be a help for the Sooners. Replacing Kenneth Murray won’t be easy as he was the heart and soul of the Oklahoma defense as Murray had 102 tackles, including 17 tackles for loss last season. The secondary is led by Delarrin Turner-Yell and Brendan Radley- Hiles as this unit did a good job of limiting teams to just 222.4 passing yards per game. However, the secondary will need to cause more turnovers in order to help the offense a bit in 2020 as the Sooners had a turnover margin of -0.57 last season which is not good enough.
The Bottom Line:
Tennessee and Army will highlight the non-conference schedule as the Volunteers will come to Norman in week two and then the Sooners will head up to Michie Stadium in week three. The conference schedule is balanced as Baylor will visit on October 3 to kickoff the road to Arlington and the Big 12 championship game. Texas will await down at the Cotton Bowl on October 10 for that annual rivalry that is one of the best in all of college football. If the Sooners can hold serve in those first two game, it should set them up nicely to end up winning the Big 12 regular season title and championship game once again. You can expect Oklahoma to be hanging around the College Football Playoff conversation all year long as they will probably finish the regular season at 11-1.
Projected Bowl: Cotton Bowl
2019 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 240.1 (14th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 297.4 (18, 3)
Total Offense: 537.6 (3, 1)
Scoring Offense: 42.1 (6, 1)
Rushing Defense: 134.1 (32, 1)
Pass Defense: 222.4 (58, 4)
Total Defense: 356.4 (38, 2)
Scoring Defense: 27.3 (64, 6)
Turnover Margin: -0.57 (109, 9)
Sacks: 2.57 (34, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 1.64 (38, 3)
Madness 2020 NFL Draft Rankings:
#25 Creed Humphrey