The Oklahoma Sooners are looking to bounce back from a decent but disappointing 2020 season and return to the College Football Playoff. Their 9-2 record landed them in second place in the Big 12, though they ripped off eight straight wins to close out the season. Their young roster took early lumps but the growth of quarterback Spencer Rattler gave hopes of earning another Heisman Trophy and playoff bid in 2021.
Expectations are high again for Lincoln Riley’s crew. They’re No. 3 behind the usual suspects, Alabama and Clemson. Having the Heisman front runner at quarterback and entering another season under defensive coordinator Alex Grinch are their best assets.
Will it be enough? The conference is again loaded with troublesome teams and the Sooners must endure a tricky set of games to close out the season. They should take care of business until the Red River Showdown in early-October against Texas. Then things ramp up in a three-game stretch at Baylor, hosting Iowa State, and at Oklahoma State.
The offense will roll through many foes with ease. Rattler is the most physically gifted passer yet in Riley’s short but impressive time at Oklahoma, which is quite the statement considering he’s produced two No. 1 overall picks. His arm talent is phenomenal, and his ability to create plays outside of the pocket was uncanny in 2020. His sophomore season should continue to see jumps in efficiency and decision-making.
His baseline talent is high. He completed 67.5 percent of his passes for 3,031 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He ran for another six scores and 160 yards. He’s not the dual-threat we became used to seeing under Riley but he’s a smart runner.
His game is a hectic, but fun and surprisingly efficient one. He has a smooth passing motion that generates above-average velocity and at times, excellent touch. There’s few throws we didn’t see in his first season as a starter.
There’s a Zach Wilson feel to his game as he maneuvers in the pocket like a madman. His feet are extremely active in resetting, and his arm can overcome tough angles and platforms. The splash plays come easily to his style of play.
It’s also easy to love his playmakers. Running backs Kennedy Brooks and Rhamondre Stevenson are truly impact players at a position that can be filled with average talents who put up numbers. Instead, getting Brooks back in particular will give Rattler a legitimate star and workhorse to rely upon when the passing game bogs down.
The potential at wide receiver is insane as well. Former five-star trio Jadon Haselwood, Theo Wease and Trejan Bridges will finally play together, and join Marvin Mims as rotational contributors. Expectations should be extremely high for Haselwood and Wease in particular based on their high school film and skill sets.
The blend of experience gained in 2020 for Rattler and his cast is huge. The Sooners should take a step forward even with a questionable defense. Their roster last year was their worst as they transitioned to a number of new faces with Covid limitations.
The rest of the conference has enough challenges within it for people to take Rattlers’ accomplishments seriously as well. Beating Brock Purdy and Iowa State can do wonders for a Heisman campaign. Rattler is penciled in as a top-two quarterback already for the 2022 NFL Draft, so everything is there for him to make a big run.
He’s currently the Heisman favorite but the line still returns a great value. Waiting on it might hurt. He’s dropped from +300 a few months ago to +400. A bad game might get more value but putting a little on the explosive playmaker now can pay off well in a few months.
Free College Football Pick: Spencer Rattler Wins Heisman +400 at BetOnline