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College Football

May this be the yr that Oklahoma lastly has a School Soccer Playoff breakthrough?

Oklahoma missed the School Soccer Playoff in 2020, so the Sooners now have a distinct offseason narrative.

That’s totally different as in higher.

There’s no discuss one other disappointing playoff loss haunting OU.

Nope, this time it’s all about Oklahoma’s upside and potential and even nationwide championship hopes. Nearly as good because the Sooners appeared late within the season – and particularly in a 55-20 Goodyear Cotton Bowl win over depleted Florida – OU’s inventory is even increased now, lower than 100 days away from the beginning of actual faculty soccer.

ESPN moved Oklahoma into the No. 1 spot forward of Alabama, heresy in some components of the South.

Requested about seeing the OU emblem atop the rankings, coach Lincoln Riley supplied an exhale which may have doubled as a sigh.

“I feel it’s what it’s at this level. There’s a protracted methods to go in this stuff,” Riley mentioned. “My greatest cope with the fellows is that we by no means draw back from excessive expectations and eager to do nicely. It’s ensuring we’re placing the work in behind it.

“That’s our deal right here. So we’ve by no means shied away from these issues however we additionally perceive preseason rankings are meaningless.”

Perhaps, however they do present perception within the evolution of Oklahoma below Riley, particularly that the Sooners possess the expertise, the depth and particularly the protection to finish that four-game CFP shedding streak with solely a type of being aggressive.

For his half, Riley mentioned he appreciated the “good vibe” popping out of final month’s spring recreation in addition to the crew’s management and unselfishness.

When requested what he appreciated most, although, Riley pointed to aggressive depth.

“I don’t know that we’ve had a roster but that has this many gamers that performed in huge video games and sort of has them unfold all through all of the positions,” Riley mentioned.

As normal, Oklahoma has a possible Heisman winner and No. 1 NFL draft decide total in redshirt sophomore Spencer Rattler. He threw for 3,031 yards and 28 touchdowns in 11 video games final season regardless of coping with early rising pains. And incoming freshman Caleb Williams, ranked because the No. 1 dual-threat quarterback within the nation, was simply 10 of 11 for 99 yards within the spring recreation.

With the highest 5 groups in final season’s remaining AP High 25 breaking in new quarterbacks, the Sooners have a luxurious.

Yeah, OU is loaded on offense, to nobody’s shock even with the departure of Seth McGowan and Trejan Bridges after an off-campus incident. The Tennessee implosion led to a few influence transfers, together with working again Eric Grey, who may simply be a 1,000-yard rusher below Riley.

“Eric is simply so explosive and has nice stability, nice imaginative and prescient and simply persistence in these holes when he’s hitting them,” Rattler mentioned after the spring recreation.

However Oklahoma has fielded superb offenses earlier than with Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts with no CFP breakthrough, though it has received six straight Huge 12 titles. The issue has been a protection that allowed 199 factors within the 4 playoff losses.

Riley truly began the method with the choice to fireside Mike Stoops after a 48-45 loss to Texas in 2018 after which import rising star Alex Grinch from Washington State as his defensive coordinator.

OU appeared prepared for prime-time the second half of final season. Within the remaining seven video games, Oklahoma allowed a mean of 17 factors. Simply three groups posted 400 yards or extra of complete offense.

The Sooners look sturdy up entrance and at linebacker. If a secondary that has been inconsistent at finest steps up, Oklahoma may simply have a high 25 protection – which is likely to be ok.

It additionally is likely to be needed with Iowa State more likely to start subsequent season someplace within the high 10 as nicely.

“I really feel like we’ve got an opportunity to be good in any respect three ranges of the protection,” Riley mentioned. “Now, having an opportunity to be good and being good are definitely two various things, and we’ve obtained a variety of work to be performed.

“However there’s going to be, I feel, a possibility to essentially area a robust protection.”

Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) warms up before the Cotton Bowl Classic against Florida at AT&T Stadium on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020, in Arlington.

Discover extra Oklahoma protection from The Dallas Morning Information right here.

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