Oklahoma football: Sooners start 8th in ESPN 2018 Football Power Index

The Oklahoma football Sooners are ranked eighth in the ESPN 2018 Football Power Index, about six weeks away from the start of another college season.

Clemson, which lost to Alabama in the College Football Playoff national championship game last season, is the top-ranked team, according to the preseason Football Power Index, followed by Bama, Georgia, Ohio State and Washington.

The Sooners, who were No. 3 in the preseason FPI a year ago, and ended the season as the No. 3 team in both of the major weekly polls, will begin the 2018 campaign five spots lower this time around.

Unlike conventional team rankings, which generally rank teams in order of their accumulated performance on a week-to-week basis, the ESPN FPI is a predictive measure of team strength and how a team is expected to perform going forward for the rest of the season.

This being the preseason, the FPI top-25 rankings should be reasonably aligned with the other major polls, the prime difference being that the Associated Press and USA Today polls, for example, are projecting a team’s strength at the start of the season as opposed to a prediction of where that team will finish at the end of the season.

The FPI projects Oklahoma to win 10.5 games this season and gives the Sooners a 6.5 percent chance of going undefeated. The ESPN index has much greater confidence, however, in the prediction that OU will win a fourth consecutive Big 12 championship. FPI projects the Sooners as a 54-percent favorite to win the Big 12 in 2018.

Oklahoma’s chief challengers in the Big 12 race this season, according to the FPI, are Texas, ranked 16th and with a 20.3-percent chance of overtaking the Sooners, and No. 20 Oklahoma State, with a 12.7-percent chance of winning the Big 12.

The preseason power rankings of the rest of the Big 12 are: No. 27 TCU, No. 37 Texas Tech, No. 38 Baylor, No. 39 West Virginia, No. 40 Iowa State, No. 46 Kansas State and No. 86 Kansas. The Jayhawks are the only Big 12 team given 0.0-percent chance of winning the conference.