We haven’t even made it to the month of June yet and we already have our first projections for the 2019 college football season. Athlon released their Top 25 projections on Monday with the Oklahoma Sooners coming in at #6.
Alabama (Athlon’s pick for national champion), Clemson, Georgia, Michigan, and Ohio State were the five teams picked ahead of Oklahoma. Texas (#11) and Iowa State (#24) were the other two Big 12 schools joining the Sooners in Athlon’s Top 25.
The Sooners will once again ride their high-powered offense to contend for their third consecutive trip to the CFB Playoff and the program’s fifth Big 12 title in a row. Coach Lincoln Riley has a few holes to fill on this side of the ball, but as evidenced by back-to-back Heisman winners (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray), this unit isn’t likely to miss a beat behind Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts. The Texas native accounted for 7,602 total yards in his career with the Crimson Tide, but most importantly, showed marked improvement as a passer during his senior campaign. The supporting cast is loaded with dynamic playmakers. Trey Sermon and Kennedy Brooks combined for 2,003 rushing yards last season and form one of the top running back units in college football. Marquise Brown’s big-play ability on the outside will be missed, but CeeDee Lamb, Grant Calcaterra and three standout freshmen from the 2019 class – Jadon Haselwood, Theo Wease and Trejan Bridges – provide plenty of weapons for Hurts. Oklahoma line coach Bill Bedenbaugh is one of the best in the nation, but he will have his work cut out this offseason, as the Sooners look to replace four starters from a dominant line. Defense is once again Oklahoma’s biggest concern and the unit that could derail a trip to the playoff. New coordinator Alex Grinch was one of the offseason’s top hires, and nine starters provide a good starting point. However, the numbers weren’t pretty in 2018. The Sooners gave up nearly 160 rushing yards a game, finished 111th nationally in pass efficiency defense and allowed 6.1 yards per snap. How much can Grinch improve this group over the course of the season? The answer to that question is likely to decide whether or not Oklahoma makes the CFB Playoff in 2019.Athlon Sports