Oklahoma football: How will SEC-bound Sooners fare in 'way-too-early' top-25 projections?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Only two teams and their fans are still focused on the 2023 college football season. The rest of us have already turned the page to 2024, which begs the question: What does the outlook look like for Brent Venables and the Oklahoma football Sooners in 2024?

After tonight's College Football Playoff national championship game between No. 1 Michigan and No. 2 Washington, we'll begin seeing what the so-called experts think about all of this when the traditional deluge of way-too-early top-25 predictions start coming out.

A year ago, following a disappointing 2022 season, there was a lot of speculation over what to expect from the Sooners in Year 2 of the Venables head-coaching era. As the way-too-early 2023 rankings started coming out around this same time 12 months ago, Oklahoma found its way into the top-25 forecasts, but generally in the 20 to 25 range.

To understand why the way-too-early 2023 projection was considered a positive for Sooner fans, this followed a season in which the Sooners went from No. 6 in the rankings after the first three games to completely out of the top 25 in the wake of losing seven out their final 10 games.

OU ended the 2023 season, its final one after a founding run in the Big 12 Conference, ranked No. 12 in the final CFP Top-25 rankings and in the Associated Press poll.

Over the next several weeks and months, the offseason and early preseason storylines in college football news will be largely focused on who are the 25 best teams nationally heading into the next season and how the teams in the newly expanded SEC and Big Ten will do in their new conferences. That, of course, includes Oklahoma, which begins a new era this fall as a new member of the SEC, widely considered the strongest conference in college football.

The 2024 football schedule for the Sooners sets up as one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, schedules in OU football history. Oklahoma closes out the 2024 schedule with consecutive games against Missouri, Alabama and LSU and Mizzou and LSU are on the road. The Sooners also will face Tennessee and Ole Miss next season. All five of these teams finished in the top-25 in 2023.

Oklahoma's move to the SEC is also why there is strong interest again this offseason in where college football experts see the Sooners.

Two media sources, Athlon Sports and Sporting News are out ahead of all the rest with the 2024 way-too-early projections, but I can assure you the onslaught is coming. The editors at Athlon Sports have the Sooners at No. 12 in their post-2023, pre-spring 2024 top-25 forecast. Sporting News is not that bullish on OU at this stage, but still has the Sooners as a top-25 team ahead of the 2024 season.

Based on these way-too-early top-25 predictions, Oklahoma will have five top-25 SEC teams on its 2024 schedule, including two of the top three teams (Alabama and Texas) and four in the top 10.

Beginning this coming fall, a 10-win season by the Sooners will mean a lot more than it ever has in the past.