The Oklahoma Sooners open the 2022 college football season in 44 days when they host the UTEP Miners. This year’s season opener carries quite a bit more weight and anticipation than perhaps years past as the Sooners usher in a new era of Oklahoma Football under Brent Venables.
It also marks the start of a new era of offense with Jeff Lebby taking the helm. Lebby is one of the best offensive coordinators in college football and will bring a new look to the Oklahoma offense.
Here’s how Brent Venables described the future of Oklahoma football under his leadership.
Brent Venables. 🗣️
— 𝕆𝕂𝕃𝔸ℍ𝕆𝕄𝔸-𝕍𝕊-𝕋ℍ𝔼 𝕎𝕆ℝ𝕃𝔻 (@soonergridiron) December 6, 2021
To prepare you for the 2022 college football season, Athlon Sports released their projections on how they think the 2022 season will go with their 1-131 rankings. Here’s how the Oklahoma Sooners and their opponents for the 2022 season ranked.
April 23, 2022; Norman; Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Marvin Mims (17) celebrates wide receiver Theo Wease (10) after scoring a touchdown during the spring game at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 13
The Sooners are forging into the 2022 college football season in a rare position. They aren’t the favorites to win the Big 12 according to the media and they aren’t the highest ranked team in the Big 12 according to Athlon Sports. They’re a team that will enter the season with something to prove in Brent Venables first year at the helm and that likely won’t bode well for Oklahoma’s opponents.
Sept. 3: UTEP Miners (Norman)
Nov 20, 2021; El Paso, Texas, USA; UTEP Miners offensive lineman Bobby DeHaro (73) speaks to his teammates before facing the Rice Owls at Sun Bowl Stadium. Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 104
The environment that the UTEP Miners will be walking into on Sept. 3 will be raucous. And that’s likely an understatement. Brent Venables’ return to Owen Field, making his head coaching debut, will have those in attendance at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium going bonkers.
Sept. 10: Kent State Golden Flashes (Norman)
Dec 21, 2021; Boise, Idaho, USA; Kent State Golden Flashes running back Bryan Bradford (31) runs the ball during the second half against the Wyoming Cowboys at the 2021 Famous Idaho Potato Bowl at Albertsons Stadium. Wyoming defeats Kent State 52 to 38. Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 89
After getting the first game of the Brent Venables era under their belts, the Sooners will come back even better after a week to watch the film from the UTEP game. Kent State will be the next in line for the new-look Sooners, and it’ll probably go just like week one did.
Sept. 17: Nebraska Cornhuskers (Lincoln)
Sep 18, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners defensive back Justin Broiles (25) and Oklahoma Sooners cornerback D.J. Graham (9) reacts during the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 53
Oklahoma returns to Lincoln for the first time since 2009, a 10-3 loss to the Cornhuskers. Casey Thompson, who helped Texas jump out to a big lead in the 2021 Red River Rivalry game, will take the helm for Nebraska. Nebraska needs to learn how to win close games.
Sept. 24: Kansas State Wildcats (Norman)
Oct 2, 2021; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats running back Deuce Vaughn (22) runs the ball against Oklahoma Sooners linebacker David Ugwoegbu (2) during the second quarter at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 40
The question for the Wildcats is, how much better is Adrian Martinez than Skylar Thompson? Because they don’t appear all that different, though Martinez turns the ball over at a higher rate than Thompson did with the Wildcats.
Oct. 1: TCU Horned Frogs (Fort Worth)
Oct 24, 2020; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; TCU Horned Frogs wide receiver Quentin Johnston (1) runs with the ball as Oklahoma Sooners cornerback Jaden Davis (4) defends during the second half at Amon G. Carter Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 55
Anyone else still having nightmares about Quentin Johnston? Johnston was dominant and uncoverable for the Horned Frogs and in a Sonny Dykes offense that will put up some points, look for Johnston to be even better in 2022.
Oct. 8: Texas Longhorns (Dallas)
Oklahoma’s Michael Woods II (8) celebrates with Ethan Downs (40) and DaShaun White (23) after a sack during the Red River Showdown college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the University of Texas (UT) Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. Oklahoma won 55-48. Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Athlon Sports Ranking: 29
Once again, Red River will provide fireworks for two teams with coaches looking to establish themselves in the rivalry.
Oct. 15: Kansas Jayhawks (Norman)
Oct 23, 2021; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks running back Devin Neal (4) scores a touchdown against the Oklahoma Sooners during the first half at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 99
A win is a win, but the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks still sticks out as an odd 30 minutes of football in an odd season. Kansas controlled the football and led 10-0 at halftime and the Sooners needed several key plays in the second half to come back and then seal the game.
Oct. 22: BYE WEEK
Oklahoma Offensive Coordinator Jeff Lebby pats Dillon Gabriel (8) on the helmet during the University of Oklahoma’s annual spring football game at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., Saturday, April 23, 2022. Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
First-year OU football coach Brent Venables works with his team during Thursday’s practice in Norman. The Oklahoman. CHRIS LANDSBERGER/THE OKLAHOMAN / USA TODAY NETWORK
Other rankings featuring the Oklahoma Sooners.
Oct. 29: Iowa State Cyclones (Ames, Iowa)
Nov 20, 2021; Norman, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma Sooners cornerback D.J. Graham (9) tackles Iowa State Cyclones wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson (8) during the first quarter at Gaylord Family-Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 50
Originally a Thursday game, this one got moved to Saturday in Ames. The Cyclones will try to figure out life without Brock Purdy, Breece Hall, Charlie Kolar, and Mike Rose, but Matt Campbell is a good coach with the fire to drive a team that many will be counting out in 2022.
Nov. 5: Baylor Bears (Norman)
Nov 13, 2021; Waco, Texas, USA; Baylor Bears linebacker Bryson Jackson (45) tackles Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Caleb Williams (13) during the second half at McLane Stadium. Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 11
The most disappointing performance from a season ago was the Sooners’ defeat at the hands of Baylor in Waco. While they’ve turned over a lot since that loss, there are plenty of players back that would like to get that one back.
Nov. 12: West Virginia Mountaineers (Morgantown)
Oklahoma’s Key Lawrence (12) and Justin Broiles (25) bring down West Virginia’s Sam James (13) during a 16-13 win against West Virginia on Sept. 25 in Norman. Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Athlon Sports Ranking: 51
A potential “trap game” for the Oklahoma Sooners as they go on the road to Morgantown in the middle of November, one week before what could be the last Bedlam game for some time. The Sooners haven’t lost to West Virginia in Big 12 play.
Nov. 19: Oklahoma State Cowboys (Norman)
Nov 27, 2021; Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) poses for pictures with fans on the field after defeating the Oklahoma Sooners at Boone Pickens Stadium. Oklahoma State won 37-33. Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Athlon Sports Ranking: 17
It had been a few seasons since Mike Gundy and the Cowboys had won 10 games. The last time they did so in 2017 was the last of three-straight seasons with at least 10 wins. The only time Gundy hasn’t followed up a 10-win season with another 10-win season was 2014, when Oklahoma State went 7-6.
The Pokes seem like a safe bet to hit the 10-win threshold again in 2022, but the Big 12 has improved even more since last year’s improbably run to the Big 12 title game.
Nov. 26: Texas Tech Red Raiders (Lubbock)
Texas Tech football coach Joey McGuire talks to the crowd during the halftime of an NCAA college basketball game against North Florida, Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021, in Lubbock, Texas. (Brad Tollefson/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal via AP)
Athlon Sports Ranking: 61
Feels weird to end the season with Texas Tech, but perhaps the Big 12 schedulers wanted to avoid a potential scenario where Bedlam occurs in back-to-back weeks.