Oklahoma football receiving all kinds of love after big Red River win over Texas

Oct 10, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners ruf-nek carries an Oklahoma flag after a score against the Texas Longhorns during Red River rivalry at Cotton Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 10, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners ruf-nek carries an Oklahoma flag after a score against the Texas Longhorns during Red River rivalry at Cotton Bowl Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /
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Make no mistake, Texas is indeed “back” in college football. But following a tough and gutsy 34-30 win over the Longhorns on Saturday, another declaration arose from the ashes: Oklahoma football is also back!

Over the first six weeks of the 2023 season, Oklahoma has moved from a preseason starting position of No. 20 in the Associated Press Top 25 to No. 18, back one to 19, to 16, 14, 12 and now at No. 5 this week after the huge win over then-No. 3-ranked Texas.

The Sooners and Longhorns were both undefeated coming into the 119th edition of the Red River Rivalry. Texas was already considered one of the darlings of the 2023 college football season because of its impressive win over then-No. 3 Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Oklahoma’s 5-0 start was largely overlooked on the basis of the Sooners’ relatively soft strength of schedule in comparison to other top teams.

Now that OU has added a victory over previously unbeaten and top five-ranked Texas to its resume, everything has changed for the Sooners in terms of evaluating how good this Oklahoma team really is and how high it can go.

The ESPN College Football Power Index (FPI) now projects Oklahoma to win 12 games (that same projection was 9.5 in the preseason), which the Sooners can do by taking care of business in the remaining six regular season games against UCF, Kansas, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, BYU and TCU. Then, in all probability, OU will get a rematch with Texas for the Big 12 championship.

ESPN describes the FPI as “a measure of team strength and the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season.” Oklahoma is No. 2 behind Ohio State in the current FPI ranking at the midway point of the season. According to the FPI, the Sooners have a 41 percent chance of winning out, the highest of any FBS team, a 62 percent chance of winning the Big 12 and a 70 percent chance of making the College Football Playoff.

Based solely on current strength of record, though, as calculated by ESPN’s FPI, Oklahoma sits in the No, 1 position, followed by Florida State, Ohio State, Texas and Louisville.

Every week during the college football season, ESPN college football writers Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach update projections for all 43 postseason bowl matchups. Up till this week, the general consensus for Oklahoma had been a date in the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, which is number two or three in the Big 12 bowl pecking order depending on whether a Big 12 representative makes the playoff. After the Week 6 results this past weekend, both Bonagura and Schlabach have the Sooners earning a bid to one of the New Year’s Six bowls

Bonagura has OU matched up against USC in the Cotton Bowl Classic on Dec. 29 in Arlington, Texas; Schlabach projects Oklahoma vs. Alabama on Dec. 30 in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta.

Sooner fans will really like this: On Sunday, in updating its projections after the Week 6 results, the ESPN FPI computer model had Oklahoma beating Ohio State for the national championship. While all that sounds great, I wouldn’t write that down in ink just yet. There’s still have a season to go, and we all know a lot of things will change over those final six or seven games.