Oklahoma football: Four bold predictions for Sooners in 2022 season

Oct 11, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners mascot Boomer performs prior to the game against the Texas Longhorns during the Red River showdown at the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma beat Texas 31-26. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 11, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners mascot Boomer performs prior to the game against the Texas Longhorns during the Red River showdown at the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma beat Texas 31-26. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

We’re into single digits now awaiting the start of the new Oklahoma football season, and it’s time to throw down the gauntlet and issue some bold Sooners predictions for the 2022 season.

The Sooners underwent plenty of changes in the offseason, not the least of which was the hiring of former OU assistant Brent Venables as the new head coach. Also new to OU football this season are two new coordinators: Jeff Lebby left Ole Miss to become the new offensive coordinator, and Ted Roof followed Venables from Clemson to become the new defensive coordinator for the Sooners.

In addition, the Sooner enter the Brent Venables era of Oklahoma football with 40 new faces on the roster between the incoming freshmen and transfer portal additions. No one outside of the Sooner football program know exactly what we are going to see when the new season kicks off for OU a week from Saturday.

All indications are that things are going very well in the transition and the players have bought in to the vision and direction that Venables want to take the team and the contagious energy and passion that is Brent Venables.

As we get ready to lift the curtain on a new college football season, here are four bold predictions for 2022 Oklahoma football:

Dillon Gabriel throws for at least 3,800 yards and 40 or more touchdowns

A lot has been expected of Oklahoma quarterbacks in previous season, and this season all of that is on the shoulders of Central Florida transfer Dillon Gabriel. This will be Gabriel’s fourth season of college football, although he has really only completed two full seasons. He was hurt after three games last season and missed the remainder of the season.

Gabriel, who throws from the left side, passed for 3,570 yards and 32 touchdowns his sophomore season at UCF in 2021. The year before, in his freshman year, he led a UCF offense that finished second in the nation in total offense under OC Jeff Lebby, with whom Gabriel is reunited this season at Oklahoma.

Gabriel is the right guy at the right time to lead the Oklahoma offense this season. Lebby likes to run an up-tempo offense, and Gabriel is very familiar and comfortable in that offense. He will find his stride again as the Sooner signal caller and should pass for at least 3,800 yards, 300 more than his previous single-season high, and 40 or more touchdowns.

By comparison, Spencer Rattler and Caleb Williams combined for 32 passing touchdowns last season, and Kyler Murray threw 42 touchdown passes in 2018.

Marvin Mims nearly doubles his two-year numbers in receptions

Junior wide receiver Marvin Mims was underutilized last season. He still produced 702 receiving yards, a career high, but caught just 32 passes. He also had only five TD catches in the 2021 season. Expect Mims to be targeted a lot more in the coming season.

Mims is a deep-ball, big-play threat. He averaged 22.0 yards a reception last season. I see that number going up this season. I predict Mims will make 60 or more receptions, finish close to 900 receiving yards and a dozen touchdowns in the 2021 season. That would nearly double his total receptions (69) for his first two seasons of college football.

Sooners will go 11-1 in regular season, losing only to Texas

I would love to go on record saying Oklahoma will go undefeated through the regular season in 2021, and I still think they might do that. The Sooners have Baylor and Oklahoma State, arguably their two biggest challengers for the Big 12 title, at home in 2022, and as every Sooner fan knows, Oklahoma is extremely hard to beat at home. I think OU’s one stumbling block in the regular season is going to be Texas.

For one thing, the Longhorns are still angry about the way they lost to OU in last year’s Red River rivalry game, blowing a 21-point first-quarter advantage.

Moreover, Oklahoma has won five of its last six games against Texas. Historically, Texas has broken up those types of OU streaks after a run of four or five games. As much as I hate to suggest it, this could be Texas’ year to finish off the Sooners and ruin their chance at an undefeated season going into the postseason.

OU will rebound from the Texas upset and go on to win its 15th Big 12 championship

Oklahoma will not lose another regular-season game after losing by a field goal to Texas in October. The Sooners will finish with a league-best 8-1 record in the Big 12 and will play Baylor a second time in the Big 12 Championship. After defeating Baylor by 13 points a couple of weeks earlier in Norman, Oklahoma will receive a stronger challenge from the Bears in the Big 12 title game.

The Sooners will overcome a seven-point first-half deficit, scoring three second-half touchdowns and holding on for a narrow 35-28 victory. And that will lead to an even bigger prize: a berth in the College Football Playoff.

Not a bad head-coaching debut for Brent Venables.

The rest of the story…to be determined.

Oklahoma wins a 15th Big 12 championship