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#5 Oklahoma Sooners Preview – 2014

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Oklahoma Sooners Preview – 2014

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Reminder for first time readers: The CFBMatrix is built on simplicity. For predictions and previews I use only my trends and rankings of Talent, Location (schedule) and Coaching. T.L.C.

Talent:

This isn’t the type of talent the Sooners teams of the early 2000s. Recruiting has slipped in recent years. Oklahoma has gone from a consistent top 10 recruiter to a top 15 recruiter. This year, I had them with the No. 13 class. While they are still a top program, their talent trends show them as a competitor for the Big 12 title and playoff berths, but not a national champion. They simply do not fit the CFB Matrix profile of a title winner. They are a top 16 talent in this year’s roster rankings. Every winner and loser of the national title in the eight previous years and 25 of last 26 were in my top 16 to start a season. The Sooners bring back six starters on offense and nine on defense that accounted for over 81 percent of the key defensive productions stats. If defense wins championship, this team has high expectations.

Coaching:

Bob Stoops sits at No. 31 in the CFB Matrix coach rankings. This is one of the best metrics amongst No. 2 recruiters in the Big 5 conferences. In the Coach Result metrics, (winning rates versus CFB Matrix picks), Stoops is No. 3 in the Big 12, just ahead of coach Art Briles and behind new Texas coach Charlie Strong during his four seasons at Louisville. Both of his winning rates in the CFB Matrix are above average in the Big 12. Over the last six years, his final win total has been exact or within one game every season of Matrix expectations.

 

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Schedule:

Oklahoma has the second toughest schedule in the Big 12 this season, based on opposing talent. When you are a top program in a conference, it is possible that you get penalized for a lower strength-of-schedule due to the inability to play superior teams. Florida State is another great example. The best team by far in the ACC could get dinged by the playoff committee chasing mythical strength-of-schedule metrics to pick a fourth playoff team.

The Sooners national Talent SOS ranking is No. 14 on the strength of nine conference games and an out of conference slate that includes Tennessee and two other mid-majors. OU’s Coaching SOS ranking is no. 10 in the Big 12, but the talent is by far the most significant number, unless they play Kansas State coach Bill Snyder every time. Oklahoma’s strength-of-schedule checks in at No. 4 in the Big 12.

I do not like the Sooners’ use of the bye. They do not use all three byes in their schedule, nor do they use them to break long runs of consecutive games. They play strings of five straight and six straight. For a team that must go 12-0 to make the playoff, this, along with scheduling a tough game with Tennessee, is just not utilizing the current system. The Big 12 does not have a 13th game, so an 11-1 Oklahoma (or any Big 12 team) can easily fall prey to an 11-1 Pac-12 or SEC team that the playoff committee picks. Over the last two decades, voters ranked teams from the SEC and Pac 12 ahead of teams from the Big 12 with the same records.
The Sooners start 2014 in Norman with Louisiana Tech. A nice tune-up game but as soon as they go 1-0, they are into a bye week. They welcome the Vols into Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Week 2. What a battle of heavy weight names in college football. The coaching, talent and location edges all go to the Sooners. They grab another easy W with the beating of Tulsa on the road. And just like that the non-conference games are over and only one bye is left the rest of the way for nine conference games.

The Big 12 slate kicks off in Morgantown with a date against the Mountaineers. This is a long road trip, and it feels like it has been good for one big upset per season. But I’m taking the Sooners to improve to 4-0, before heading to Fort Worth to take on TCU. A couple of years ago, I would have circled this one as a huge trap game. However, the Coach Result of TCU coach Gary Patterson has been poor. Sooners roll to 5-0 and are in the top 10 with the Red River Rivalry on the docket for Week 7.
In 2013, this was as big of a shock-and-awe game as imaginable in college football, as a struggling Longhorn team beat down the Sooners. I am incredibly excited to see what comes of this elite match up now that Strong has taken over at Texas. I find it hard to take Oklahoma to win out, and this is the most talented team they are going to face in the regular season. I got the Horns in this one.

Kansas State comes to Norman the following week. Fortunately, I think more than a few players remember what happened the last time the Wildcats invaded Norman. OU gets to their last bye at 6-1 and in the top 10.

If they happen to hit this bye undefeated, which the odds are solid, they are on a playoff berth run and they control their destiny. Otherwise, at 6-1, they need to win. 5-2 and who the heck knows if the wheels even stay on the rest of the way. Off the break, they head to Ames and Jack Trice Stadium. That is an easy pick, but it is a trap game. Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads is good enough to make you pay for looking past Iowa State to Baylor in Norman the next week. I’m taking the Sooners to improve to 9-1, heading to Lubbock. This should be an awesome shootout. The talent gap is still too much to take the Red Raiders, and while coach Kliff Kingsbury has had some solid wins, there is nothing there that says “Guns Up.”

Kansas is next up. The Jayhawks under coach Charlie Weis don’t win road games. Nothing is going to top the excitement of 2013 in this rivalry. The Sooner have had the great fortune of Tennessee, Baylor, Kansas State and Oklahoma State all at home and Texas on a neutral field for 2014. This will be the 110th Bedlam since the series started in Guthrie in 1904. The Sooners wrap up a Big 12 championship with their 85th Bedlam victory in the final game to finish 11-1. Hold your breath as the Sooners might be the last one in or the last one out. 12-0 and they are a lock.

Dave’s Quick-n-Dirty CFB Matrix Preview:

The Sooners have a higher talent ranking that everyone on their schedule except Texas. That puts their talent baseline record at 11-1. The projected loss against Texas is a neutral location and there are no other stadium location adjustments as the projected record stays 11-1. Coach Stoops has an annual Coach Effect of -.67 games making my favor ‘middle number at 10.5 and final record a 11-1.

2014 Win Loss Talent/Location Prediction Pattern

W, bye, W, W, W, W, L, W, bye, W, W, W, W, W, W plus zero coach effect for Stoops is 11-1 and winner of the Big 12

Reminder: The W/L pattern are the game by game predictions using Talent/Location of the games. It is the #1 pre-season prediction system for FBS games over the last three years. I use Coach Effect to then adjust the game pick totals to the win totals for the season.

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