Oklahoma’s 2017 season was highlighted by third consecutive Big 12 title and a second trip to the College Football Playoff, though the Sooners fell short of the national title game.
With the departure of quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield, the quest for a national championship doesn’t appear to be any easier for Oklahoma in 2018. Tight end Mark Andrews, tackle Orlando Brown and defensive end Ogbonnia Okoronkwo are other notable departures.
But with the way the Sooners have recruited in recent seasons — including a 2018 class that ranks No. 9 in the nation, per the 247Sports composite — ruling out a return to the playoff for Lincoln Riley’s team this upcoming season would be a mistake.
ESPN’s Tom VanHaaren wrote that Oklahoma has a realistic chance of making its third playoff appearance in four seasons in 2018 — at least based on historical trends when it comes to playoff teams. That’s because all but three teams to make the playoff averaged a top-15 recruiting class in the four years prior to their playoff berths. The Sooners’ last four classes, including the 2018 class, average No. 14 in the nation.
“The Sooners made it to the playoff this past season, losing to Georgia, and, numerically, they have a shot at doing it once again in 2018. Losing Heisman-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield will be a lot to overcome. However, former ESPN 300 QBs Kyler Murray and Austin Kendall are on the roster, and coach Lincoln Riley added ESPN 300 quarterback Tanner Mordecai in the 2018 class. It will also be tough to replace star left tackle Orlando Brown, but the Sooners have a few options on the roster and were able to reel in ESPN 300 tackle Brey Walker as well.”
Walker and incoming defensive end Ronnie Perkins rank as the No. 1 recruits in the 2018 class from Oklahoma and Missouri, respectively, in the 247Sports composite.
Oklahoma also will return running back Rodney Anderson, who finished last season with 1,161 rushing yards as a sophomore.
The Sooners kick off the 2018 campaign at home against Florida Atlantic on Sept. 1. Oklahoma’s nonconference schedule also includes a home contest against UCLA.