All eyes will be on Alabama and Clemson in Monday night’s national championship game, but some college football experts are already looking ahead to the 2019 season. It’s never too early, though,for the “way too early” look at the projected top 25 teams for next season, including what the crystal ball looks like for Oklahoma football.
Over the next few weeks, we will begin seeing a cascade of these “way too early” top-25 projections of what the college football landscape should look like and who are considered the best of the best by the time preseason training camp rolls around in August.
Athlon Sports is the first of the sports publications and broadcast outlets to come out with its early look at the top 25 college teams next season and the likely College Football Playoff contenders.
Despite heavy losses in the offensive line and at quarterback, the Oklahoma offensive unit should return as high-powered as ever, according to the editors and writers at Athlon Sports. The Sooners hold down the No. 4 spot in the Athlon “Way too Early” Top 25 rankings for the 2019 season behind Alabama, Clemson and Georgia, in that order.
Given that fearsome foursome, it’s as if we are in a time warp insofar as the teams that seem to always bubble to the top as the favorites every year. You could also add Ohio State. Michigan, LSU and this year Texas to that select list, which is exactly what Athlon Sports has done.
The biggest issue facing the Sooners’ next season is getting much better defensively. New defensive coordinator Alex Grinch will get a good number of the OU defensive starters back, with another year of experience under their belt, and the Sooners have some outstanding defensive players coming in as part of what could easily be the best OU recruiting class in nearly two decades.
The top-five ranked OU 2019 recruiting class features four five-star prospects, including three wide receivers and the No, 1 dual-threat quarterback in the 2019 national class.
As far as the offensive line is concerned, center Creed Humphrey returns, and offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh is one of the best coaches and recruiters of that position group in the country. The expectation is that there will be a learning curve, but the O-line should be able to hold its own.
There should be little if any drop off offensively for the Sooners. With improvement in the defense, next year’s OU team could be much more balanced and, therefore, potentially even better than the outstanding Sooner teams Lincoln Riley has coached in his first two seasons as the OU head coach.
All of these factors go into OU’s top-five ranking in the Athlon “Way too Early” Top 25 for next season. Only two other Big 12 teams, Texas and Iowa State, made Athlon ‘s projected Top 25 preseason rankings for next season. Texas is 10th and Iowa State 22nd.