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2021 Oklahoma college football preview: The Sooners shoot for a return to the Playoff

The Sooners are top choice to make it seven titles in a row in the Big 12. Can they also crack the College Football Playoff in 2021?

Quarterback Spencer Rattler of the Oklahoma Sooners prepares to throw during the team’s spring game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on April 24, 2021 in Norman, Oklahoma. Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

The Oklahoma Sooners made it six conference titles in a row in 2020, and are the odds-on favorite for a seventh behind projected top-2022 NFL Draft pick Spencer Rattler.

While the Sooners lost early to Kansas State at home and Iowa State on the road, they finished the shortened season with eight wins in a row and one of the most efficient offenses in the country. With plenty of starting returnees, and a non-conference schedule that can be politely described as non-threatening, they should be in contention to reach the College Football Playoff for the fourth time in eight years.

2020 Season Review

  • 9-2, 7-2 Big 12: Big 12 Champions, Cotton Bowl Champions (55-20 over Florida)
  • Started 1-2 but won last eight games of the season, covering spread in seven

2021 Talent

2021 247Sports Composite Ranking: 10th
ESPN Returning Production: 76% overall (43rd): 78% offense (43rd), 75% defense (51st)
Returning Talent Index: Positive, 1st in Big 12
Returning starters: 8/11 offense, 10/11 defense
* All rankings out of 130 FBS schools

Key Player

Quarterback: Spencer Rattler (Junior)

The projected Top 10 pick is likely spending his last season in Norman, and will be a candidate for the Heisman Trophy. As a sophomore, he averaged 9.6 yards per attempt and threw 28 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. Those numbers were 18 TD’s and just one INT in the last eight games of the season.

Offense (non-QB): WR Marvin Mims (Sophomore)

Mims had 37 catches for 610 yards and nine touchdowns last season, but will be asked to build on that with the departure of several colleagues from 2020. He played in all 11 games, but only made one start despite leading the team in receptions, yardage, and TD catches.

Defense: OLB Nik Bonitto (Redshirt Junior)

Bonitto led all Sooners with nine sacks, and was a monster threat as an edge rusher. Pro Football Focus credited him with the nation’s top pressure rate at 25.7% of snaps, and he’ll need to key a defense that was up-and-down last season, but returns 10 of 11 starters in 2021.

Team Stats Projections

2020 SP+ final: 4th overall: 3rd offense, 15th defense, 20th special teams
2021 SP+ projection: 3rd overall: 1st offense, 16th defense

Odds from DraftKings Sportsbook

To win national title: +650
To win Big 12: -143
Win total: 11 (Over -113, Under -113)

2020 Against The Spread: 8-3-0
2020 Point Total: Over 6-5-0

2021 Oklahoma Schedule

Oklahoma Schedule

Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Date Opponent Time (ET)/TV Spread/Total
Saturday Sep. 4 at Tulane 12:00pm ABC
Saturday Sep. 11 vs. Western Carolina TBA
Saturday Sep. 18 vs. Nebraska 12:00pm FOX OU -18
Saturday Sep. 25 vs.West Virginia TBA
Saturday Oct. 2 at Kansas State TBA
Saturday Oct. 9 vs Texas (Cotton Bowl, Dallas) TBA - ESPN OU -9.5
Saturday Oct. 16 vs. TCU TBA
Saturday Oct. 23 at Kansas TBA
Saturday Oct. 30 Texas Tech TBA
Saturday Nov. 6 BYE
Saturday Nov. 13 at Baylor TBA
Saturday Nov. 20 vs. Iowa State TBA OU -8.5
Saturday Nov. 27 at Oklahoma State TBA - ESPN OU -11