Don’t overlook Oklahoma football’s non-conference schedule in 2018.
The Sooners open up the season against two coaches with plenty of experience. Oklahoma goes up against Lane Kiffin and the Florida Atlantic Owls before hosting Chip Kelly and the UCLA Bruins one week later.
On paper, both are games that the Sooners should win. Home field vs. both a Conference USA opponent and a Pac-12 program looking to rebuild its reputation is a task that Lincoln Riley and Co. can handle with ease — right?
Not so fast.
In a bold prediction, Ben Baby of the Dallas Morning News predicted the Sooners to slip-up and lose their season-opener vs. Kiffin and FAU in Norman, Okla. on Sept. 1.
From Baby in the round-table discussion:
“Sooners will go 10-2 in 2018. Bold prediction? Oklahoma loses the opener to Florida Atlantic.”
That’s right. Oklahoma losing to a non-Power 5 opponent in Norman before Big 12 conference play even arrives.
If the prediction comes true, it wouldn’t be the first time in recent memory that the Sooners have had their season-long goals derailed in Week 1. Oklahoma fell to American Athletic Conference opponent Houston in the team’s season-opening contest of the 2016 season — a neutral site game played at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Suffering that fate on home turf, however, would have a little bit more sting to it.
Kiffin, for what it’s worth, is coming off an 11-3 campaign and a conference championship in his first season at FAU in 2017. With experience on national-championship caliber coaching staffs, including a stint as Alabama’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2014-2016, one of the game’s most polarizing head coaches can’t be overlooked.
Oklahoma will have an entirely different look, particularly on offense, when the Sooners embark on their quest for their 4th straight Big 12 title. Gone are quarterback Baker Mayfield, tight end Mark Andrews and tackle Orlando Brown — the latter two having declared early for the NFL Draft. Kyler Murray is set to take over as the team’s signal-caller for the 2018 campaign.
There will be plenty of characters to keep an eye on when the Sooners and Owls take the field at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in just more than six months. But if Kiffin and Co. pull off the improbable, don’t say that you weren’t warned.
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