Are the Sooners a serious challenger for Clemson?

Are the Sooners a serious challenger for Clemson?

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Are the Sooners a serious challenger for Clemson?

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In the College Football Playoff Era, Oklahoma has earned a CFP berth four times, the third most behind Clemson’s and Alabama’s five appearances. However, the Sooners are 0-4 in those four appearances, losing to the Tigers in 2015 season, Georgia in 2017, Alabama in 2018 and LSU in 2019.

Are the Sooners capable of getting in the CFP this year and can they finally make a run at a national championship? In three of their four CFP losses they have lost by 11 points or more.

Clemson will once again be the team to beat when the 2020 football season begins. At least that is what some preseason polls think, such as Athlon Magazine, which has the Tigers ranked No. 1 in its rankings.

It is a good place to start a season. However, Clemson will have a few teams it will have to keep an eye on that potentially could keep its dreams of winning another national championship from coming true.

The Clemson Insider has already taken a look at North Carolina, Notre Dame, LSU, Georgia, Florida and Penn State as potential challengers.

Only Notre Dame is on Clemson’s 2020 regular season schedule. The Tigers and the Irish clash in South Bend on Nov. 7. However, there is a possibility Clemson could face the Tar Heels in the ACC Championship Game and the others, including Oklahoma in the CFP.

In his first three seasons as head coach, Lincoln Riley has led the Sooners—No. 4 in Athlon’s rankings—to three Big 12 Championships and three appearances in the CFP. He did that with three different quarterbacks, two of which won the Heisman Trophy, and another was a finalist.

This year, Riley will get to coach up redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler, who played in three games last year. Rattler was the consensus No. 1 quarterback from the 2019 class.

Riley will welcome back 1,000-yard runner Kennedy Brooks and an offensive line that will return all five of its starters. With CeeDee Lamb now in the NFL, the Sooners’ play-caller will be looking for someone to step up at wide receiver.

On defense, Oklahoma still needs to get better. It gave up 27.3 points per game last season, despite showing some improvement under first-year coordinator Alex Grinch. The defense should get better in year two, with eight starters returning and more concentration in recruiting on the defensive side of the ball.

The schedule isn’t easy, though. The Sooners still have to get past Texas (Oct. 10), who should be better in 2020 after what was a disappointing year in 2019. They have a non-conference date at home against an improved Tennessee team (Sept. 12) and play Big 12 rivals Baylor (Oct. 3) and Oklahoma State (Oct. 24) in Norman as well.

The most difficult road challenge will be a contest at Iowa State on Oct. 17.

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