Oklahoma Football: ESPN’s Preseason Power Rankings place Sooners seventh

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02: Baker Mayfield
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 02: Baker Mayfield /

Just a few months ago, the ESPN Football Power Index liked the Oklahoma football chances in 2017 enough to put the Sooners at No. 4. That was with Bob Stoops still in the head coach’s chair.

On Thursday, ESPN issued its Preseason Top-25 Power Rankings for the coming season. The ESPN voters, which include former Oklahoma player Dusty Dvoracek, still like the Sooners, but apparently not quite as much as they did with Stoops at the helm.

In case you might have missed it, Oklahoma is No. 7 in the ESPN Preseason Top 25.

The Sooners began preseason training camp this week with the same team everyone knew they would have entering the new college football season, but without the man most everyone was thinking would be leading them for a 19th consecutive season.

Lincoln Riley has replaced Stoops as head coach of the Sooners. It is extremely rare for a head coach to stay at one school for as long as Stoops did at Oklahoma; even more rare for a coach to step down when his team is still considered among the 10 best in the college game.

With Stoops’ retirement, Riley inherits a team that boasts a two-time Heisman finalist at quarterback, arguably the best offensive line in the country and back-to-back Big 12 championships. That is, in large part, why the Sooners only dropped three positions from where they stood in the ESPN Football Power Index that came out in the spring.

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

For those Oklahoma fans who think that the Sooners should be rated higher, it should probably be pointed out that OU is fortunate not to have fallen further in the preseason rankings after saying goodbye to the winningest coach in the school’s illustrious football history.

Stoops is responsible for delivering 10 conference championships and 14 AP top-25 finishes in his 18 seasons as head coach. That is an extremely difficult act to follow.

Time will tell whether Riley will be able to maintain the level of success enjoyed by the Sooners under Stoops, but for right now he is being given the benefit of the doubt and a roster loaded with talent and a ton of confidence to go along with it headed into the 2017 season.

Now it’s up to Riley and his team to ensure that the end product, this season and beyond, turns out as good as the recipe and the ingredients that go into it.

Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, USC and Clemson are the top-five teams in the ESPN Preseason Power Rankings. Rounding out the top 10 are Penn State, Oklahoma, Washington, Wisconsin and Oklahoma State.

Four other Big 12 teams are in the ESPN Top 25: Kansas State 19, Texas 20, TCU 23 and West Virginia 25.