The top of the Big 12 Conference is a lonely place.
Oklahoma football is the only team in the first tier of 2018 Big 12 teams, according to SB Nation, while teams including TCU, Texas, West Virginia, Iowa State and Oklahoma State sit a tier below the three-time reigning Big 12 champions.
… I think the Big 12 could indeed have a pretty fun race. The problem is that I only know one of the surefire contenders. Despite losing the best quarterback in its storied history (challenge me on that, I dare you), OU starts right where it left off last season.
The Big 12’s middle class could produce a few exciting, top-20 challengers. But they all have their own questions, and some of them don’t have as many potential answers as the Sooners do.
Oklahoma, of course, must settle on a starting quarterback. Kyler Murray is an option with his flexible Major League Baseball deal, but Austin Kendall is still a contender.
The Sooners also need to prove themselves on defense. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops continued to take a lot of heat last season for Oklahoma’s shortcomings, but 2018 could help reshape his image in Norman, Okla.
It might seem like a tall order for a team that just a lost a Heisman Trophy winner. But there’s plenty of weapons still at coach Lincoln Riley’s disposal next season.
Oklahoma always prides itself on short rebuilds, if there is a true rebuild at all. Connelly thinks Oklahoma is the safest bet in his preseason Big 12 power rankings, which you can see at sbnation.com.