Oklahoma football: Where would Sooners sit in SEC standings?

Sep 12, 2015; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Josh Smith (25) runs the ball during the second quarter at Neyland Stadium during the game against the Oklahoma Sooners. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 12, 2015; Knoxville, TN, USA; Tennessee Volunteers wide receiver Josh Smith (25) runs the ball during the second quarter at Neyland Stadium during the game against the Oklahoma Sooners. Mandatory Credit: Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports /

Sometime in the very near future — but by 2025 at the latest — Oklahoma football will be competing in the almighty Southeastern Conference.

Although there was considerable excitement when Oklahoma joined Texas in announcing ahead of the 2021 season that the Sooners would be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, the anticipation has been tempered somewhat by OU’s roller-coaster 2022 season.

After six consecutive 11-win seasons (discarding the 2020 pandemic season), six Big 12 championships and a coaching change between the 2021 and 2022 seasons, Oklahoma football finds itself in a highly unusual situation with four losses nine games into the season and a team still trying to find its identity under a new head coach and staff.

The Big 12 is stronger this season, top to bottom, than it has been in quite a few years, but it still doesn’t measure up to the level of competition that has been the standard in the SEC for the past two decades. While both Oklahoma and Texas are considered college football blue bloods and are natural fits for the SEC, both schools also must own up to the reality that sledding in the SEC will be more difficult than what they have experienced in the Big 12.

From king of the hill to…?

Oklahoma has won 14 Big 12 football championships in the 27-year history of the conference, and the Sooners’ 50 conference championships all-time are the most of any team in the country. One thing is certain: Championships won’t be that easy to come by in the highly competitive SEC.

As an example, six SEC teams are ranked in the top 25 this week of the College Football Playoff rankings and five in the top 11. By comparison, three Big 12 teams are listed in the CFP rankings.

I think most would agree this isn’t the best year to compare how Oklahoma might do in the SEC. That actuality might still be two or three years off, but it is still worth taking a look at what things would look like if the Sooners were competing, say, this season in college football’s strongest conference.

Despite the fact that Oklahoma does not yet compete against SEC teams, if you were to integrate the Sooners current 5-4 overall record and 2-4 record in the Big 12 into the SEC composite standings, OU would be tied for 9th place overall in the SEC with Arkansas and Florida and tied for 10th with Florida and Missouri based on conference results.

As depressing as that story goes, the Sooners would have fared pretty well a year ago. OU’s 11-2 overall record and 7-2 league mark would have placed the Sooners third in the SEC behind only national champion Georgia and runner-up Alabama.

Projecting how Sooners would do if already playing an SEC schedule

Another way to look at this is to project how the Sooners might have done to this point playing the schedules of Missouri and Texas A&M, two former Big 12 teams.

Through nine games on the Missouri schedule, I would project OU wins over Louisiana Tech, Abilene Christian, Auburn, Vanderbilt and South Carolina and losses to Kansas State, Georgia, Florida and Kentucky. That would translate to a 5-4 record overall and 3-3 in conference play, the same as OU overall and a slight upward bump to 3-3 in the SEC, tied for sixth place.

If OU were playing the Texas A&M schedule, I could see the Sooners beating Sam Houston (although they didn’t in basketball this week), Appalachian State (in Norman), Miami, Arkansas, South Carolina and Florida and losing to Mississippi State, Alabama and Ole Miss. Given that hypothetical result, Oklahoma would be 6-3 overall, tied for sixth in the SEC and 3-3 in conference games, good for a sixth-place tie with Mississippi State, Kentucky and South Carolina.

Under the current College Football Playoff format, Oklahoma’s chances of making it to the four-team playoff will be considerably less than in the Big 12. On the other hand, with talk of expanding the playoff to 12 or more teams, it could be to the Sooners’ advantage to be in the SEC because of the greater likelihood of getting more teams into the playoff from the SEC

So playing the long game, Oklahoma will become part of the best and most recognized football conference in the country when it officially joins the SEC, and with that comes higher revenue share, a foot in the door in one of the college football’s most talent-rich recruiting geographies, and national recognition opportunity beyond what OU has experienced in the Big 12.

A win, win, win that I’m sure Oklahoma will be primed and ready for.