We’re still a long way from the 2022 college football season, but it’s safe to say that the national narrative about Oklahoma’s downfall has corrected itself. Remember the overreaction to Lincoln Riley’s departure at the end of November, beginning of December? Since Brent Venables came aboard, that feels like forever ago.
The Oklahoma Sooners now look like the team to beat in the Big 12 if you look at early power rankings or projections for the 2022 season.
College Football News recently released their spring power rankings ahead of the 2022 season and had the Oklahoma Sooners at No. 1 in the Big 12.
Here’s what Pete Fiutak had to say about the Sooners status as the team to beat.
New head coach Brent Venables has a world of work to do. Not only does he have to keep all the production going, but he has to do it with a slew of new parts. The defensive front isn’t starting over, but it’s not far off. The offense, though, should be amazing with a great receiving corps and UCF transfer QB Dillon Gabriel a terrific fit. – Fiutak, College Football News
The Sooners certainly lost some players to the NFL draft and the transfer portal, but they’ve done a nice job filling holes with experienced players who should be factors for the Oklahoma Sooners in 2022. Having arguably the best quarterback in the Big 12 doesn’t hurt either as Dillon Gabriel’s experience and production provide a bridge to the future for the Sooners offense.
The schedule sets up favorable inside the conference. Other than the Red River Showdown, Oklahoma gets some of the top teams in the conference at home this season. Difficult road matchups at Iowa State and West Virginia loom as potential upsets, but the Sooners are the more talented teams. If they’re able to execute in Dallas against Texas, going to Ames or Morgantown shouldn’t be too much for Brent Venables’ squad.
Let’s take a look at how College Football News ranked the Big 12 during spring ball.
10 Kansas Jayhawks
Oct 23, 2021; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Lance Leipold leads the team onto the field before the game against the Oklahoma Sooners at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
CFN 2022 Kansas Prediction, Spring Football Version: 3-9
The Kansas Jayhawks may have finished 10th in the Big 12 again in 2021, but it was evident that was a different Kansas team. Lance Leipold instilled belief in that team. The Jayhawks held the Sooners scoreless for a half and beat Texas in Austin.
Going into year two of the Leipold era, the question is can they build upon it?
9 Texas Tech Red Raiders
CFN 2022 Texas Tech Prediction, Spring Football Version: 6-6
The way Texas Tech finished the 2021 season, you’d think there’d be more hype for the Red Raiders coming into 2022. They’ve got some talent to replace, namely Erik Ezukanma at wide receiver, but Donovan Smith proved to be a guy they could rely on at quarterback and he had them competitive down the stretch and was huge in their bowl game with 252 passing yards and a touchdown through the air and on the ground. If he can develop some efficiency, he’ll be even more dangerous.
8 West Virginia Mountaineers
Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports
CFN 2022 West Virginia Prediction, Spring Football Version: 6-6
If there’s a team that I’m higher on than most, it’s the West Virginia Mountaineers. They may not be better than seventh in the Big 12 when it’s all said and done, but their defense is going to have them competitive in every game they play and if they can get above average offensive production, they could be a sleeper team to watch in the fall.
7 TCU Horned Frogs
Nov 6, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) runs with the ball past Baylor Bears cornerback Kalon Barnes (12) during the second half at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
CFN 2022 TCU Prediction, Spring Football Version: 7-5
The TCU Horned Frogs are one of the more intriguing teams to follow in the Big 12. They move from Gary Patterson, one of the better defensive coaches in the league to Sonny Dykes, who’s made a name for himself on the offensive side of the football. He appears to have capable quarterbacks in Max Duggan and Chandler Morris and Quentin Johnston is primed for a breakout 2022 season.
6 Baylor Bears
Jan 20, 2020; Waco, Texas, USA; Dave Aranda new Baylor Bears head football coach waves to the crowd as he is introduced during a timeout of a game between the Baylor Bears and the Oklahoma Sooners the first half at Ferrell Center. Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports
CFN 2022 Baylor Prediction, Spring Football Version: 7-5
Perhaps the Bears are primed for regression, but I don’t see it. The turnaround is no fluke and Aranda and Baylor are returning much of the offensive line that was one of the best in the country as well as his top two quarterbacks from last season. The losses of Abram Smith, Jalen Pitre, and Terrell Bernard hurt, but Tristan Ebner has game-breaking ability and Aranda’s a defensive wizard. He’ll figure out how to mitigate the losses on defense.
5 Kansas State Wildcats
Dec 31, 2019; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Kansas State Wildcats head coach Chris Klieman during the first half against the Navy Midshipmen at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
CFN 2022 Kansas State Prediction, Spring Football Version: 7-5
The Kansas State Wildcats were a dark horse pick to win the Big 12 from one 247Sports writer who also predicted the Wildcats would be the team to upset the Oklahoma Sooners in 2022. It’s possible, but are people 100% sold on Adrian Martinez being an upgrade at quarterback over Skylar Thompson?
4 Iowa State Cyclones
Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports
CFN 2022 Iowa State Prediction, Spring Football Version: 7-5
Though remote, there’s an outside shot that Iowa State is the worst team in the conference in 2022. Losing Brock Purdy, Breece Hall, Charlie Kolar, Mike Rose, and Will McDonald in the same draft class is huge. This team looks primed for a down year after their disappointing 2021 season.
3 Texas Longhorns
Oct 30, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian watches his team compete against Baylor Bears in the first half of an NCAA football game at McLane Stadium. Stephen Spillman-USA TODAY Sports
CFN 2022 Texas Prediction, Spring Football Version: 9-3
A lot’s riding on Quinn Ewers stepping in and being a difference-maker right away. It can happen, but the defenses the Big 12 are bringing to the table have had their way with talented first-year starters in recent years. It’s a different league than the high-flying Big 12 of the Baker Mayfield and Patrick Mahomes era. Ewers will have to carry a Texas team that was pretty bad defensively last year. We’ll see if he’s up for the challenge.
2 Oklahoma State Cowboys
Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
CFN 2022 Oklahoma State Prediction, Spring Football Version: 9-3
Oklahoma State brings back the most experienced quarterback in the Big 12 in Spencer Sanders, but a lot of the talent they had on defense is gone. Most notably, the architect of their fabulous 2021 defense; Jim Knowles.
1 Oklahoma Sooners
OU head coach Brent Venables talks to his team during the first practice of spring game on March 22 at the Everest Training Center in Norman. Brian Terry
CFN 2022 Oklahoma Prediction, Spring Football Version: 10-2
Despite the turnover on the coaching staff and on either side of the ball, it’s becoming clear that the Sooners are once again the team to beat. At least as far as early prognostications are concerned.
People keep sleeping on the Sooners wide receiver corps, but they’ll provide the wake up call come fall as Dillon Gabriel slings it around Owen Field. The defensive additions from the transfer portal will play an integral role in replacing the lost production from the 2021 team.
They’ll face challenges, but this team looks primed for contention once again.