Oklahoma football won’t have 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield taking the snaps this fall, but his departure isn’t expected to slow down the Sooners offense that much.
ESPN revealed its preseason FPI rankings for the 2018 season on Wednesday, and Oklahoma fared the best of any Big 12 team. The Sooners came in at No. 9 on the list, projected to own the top offense in college football once again this season. Oklahoma earned a total FPI rating of 19.0.
To simplify things, ESPN provided a rundown of the metrics used in determining the rankings.
“For the uninitiated, FPI is our predictive rating system for college football teams that we use to fuel our predictions and projections before and during the season. You can read about how FPI works here or watch a short video about it below. But the abridged version is that factors used in the preseason model include:
- Team performance over the past four seasons (most emphasis on last season)
- Returning starters at quarterback, on offense overall and on defense
- Whether a team has a returning head coach
- Recruiting rankings over the past four seasons”
Below is a glimpse of the top 10 in ESPN’s FPI rankings. Clemson topped defending national champion Alabama for the No. 1 spot.
Texas was next on the list among Big 12 teams, checking in at No. 17. Oklahoma State joined the Sooners and Longhorns in the top 25 at No. 21 on the list.
Dual-threat quarterback Kyler Murray, who spent 2017 as a backup to Mayfield at Oklahoma, is projected to become Oklahoma’s signal-caller in 2018. Murray, once a five-star recruit in the 247Sports composite rankings, transferred from Texas A&M following the 2015 season. He saw limited action in 2017 — including a start against West Virginia in November after Mayfield was punished for his antics at Kansas the week prior.
Oklahoma will seek its fourth-consecutive Big 12 championship in 2018. The Sooners open up the 2018 season with a home game vs. Lane Kiffin and the Florida Atlantic Owls on Sept. 1. Oklahoma also hosts UCLA, now under coach Chip Kelly, as part of its non-conference slate later that month.