Oklahoma football in 2022 may be the great unknown considering all the changes that have occurred in the Sooner program since the end of last season.
Some in the media have projected Oklahoma to be Oklahoma, even with all the changes and maybe even because of them.
Others who claim to be in the know expect the Sooners to take a step back in the coming season, but with the caveat that the step back will result in a couple of steps forward in the near future and that the Sooners will come out on the other side even stronger and more complete than before all this happened.
So, are the Sooners capable of reclaiming their No. 1 position atop the Big 12 in the 2022 season?
Early projections on the number of wins for the country’s top teams have Oklahoma at no more than 10 wins in the fall. which tells us that the college football number-crunching eggheads expect the Sooners to lose two Big 12 games in the coming season.
Would that be enough to earn a spot in the conference championship game? Maybe, depending on who those two league losses are against. Would it be good enough to win the conference? After all, getting to the conference championship game is just half the battle.
In Oklahoma’s case, however, the Sooners don’t lose when they make it into the Big 12 Championship. There have been 20 true Big 12 Championship games in the 26 seasons since the conference was formed in 1996 (no conference championship game was held between 2011 and 2016). Oklahoma has appeared in 12 Big 12 Championship games and prevailed in 11 of them.
OU’s only loss in a Big 12 Championship was as the No. 1 team in the country to Kansas State in 2003.
The Sooners were just one win and perhaps a couple of plays away from making it to a sixth straight conference title game last season, and probably would have been the hands-down favorite to regain their familiar top spot atop the conference in the coming season had Lincoln Riley stayed along with several key offensive players, including quarterback Caleb Williams.
More than one national source believes the Sooners and new head coach Brent Venables have assembled and retooled a still highly talented roster, filling and backfilling several key positions on both sides of the ball and are in a strong position not just to contend but win a 15th Big 12 Championship in 2022.
How good can and will Oklahoma be when the new college football season kicks off in the fall will be the subject of debate and discussion throughout the lazy, crazy days of summer. We won’t have the answer to that question until the real games kick off in September.
At least one national college football publication has gone on record, however, projecting the Sooners to come close again in 2022, but fall to the No. 2 position in the Big 12 postseason bowl pecking order.
With the assumption that no Big 12 teams will make the College Football Playoff in 2022, College Football News, in its 2022 post-spring bowl projections, has Oklahoma State winning the conference title and earning the Big 12’s New Year’s Six bowl berth in the All-State Sugar Bowl. CFN places the Sooners in the Alamo Bowl for a second straight year as the Big 12 second- or third-best team.
Not every so-called expert, though, is ruling the Sooners out of the running for another conference championship in 2022, despite, and perhaps even in spite of, all the changes and early uncertainty the program has undergone since the last football season.
Oklahoma has also been ranked in the second ten of several 2022 post-spring top-25 projections, which is something Sooner fans are highly unaccustomed to in the College Football Playoff era.
None of us has a crystal ball that can predict with absolute accuracy exactly what will happen when the real games get underway this fall. The players on the field will do that. But one thing we can predict with all certainty is that this isn’t going to be the same Oklahoma football team we’ve been watching the past five seasons.
We can expect a more physical, complementary style of play and with a stronger emphasis on defense as OU prepares for its move to the SEC. Moving forward, Sooner football will be different, but that doesn’t mean with any less of a winning attitude or championship ability.
If there is a brief step back (which nine or ten wins could be considered), it will ultimately result in two steps forward and a Sooner team that is even stronger and better built for success than under the most recent coaching regime. T
That’s something you can count on… and probably sooner than later