The near future for Oklahoma football is very bright, according the latest future power rankings from ESPN Insider.
The Sooners were the No. 5-ranked team on ESPN’s list, which ranks the top 25 programs in the country based on their potential over the next three seasons. The only teams ahead of Oklahoma were Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Georgia.
From ESPN Insider:
Lincoln Riley won the Big 12 and reached the CFP in his first season as head coach, employing an exciting and productive offense that drew significant interest in NFL circles. Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield is a significant loss, but Oklahoma has some good options at quarterback, even if Kyler Murray plays only one more season before pursuing professional baseball. This ranking assumes Murray will suit up for the Sooners this fall. If not, OU would drop a few spots. The Sooners bring back young standouts at both running back (Rodney Anderson, Trey Sermon) and wide receiver (Marquise Brown, CeeDee Lamb), and arguably the nation’s top offensive line in 2017 brings back three starters.
As ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg notes, Kyler Murray’s decision to play a final season of football this fall before heading to Oakland A’s was good news for Oklahoma. The only concern is whether the Sooners’ defense can improve.
Rittenberg reported that multiple Big 12 coaches thought Texas and TCU had better players on defense than Oklahoma. For that reason, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops will probably face major pressure this year after Lincoln Riley stuck with him following the Rose Bowl loss to Georgia.
Oklahoma opens the 2018 season at home against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 1.