Happy Thursday, friends and fans!
A roundtable consisting of the Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel, the Austin American-Statesman’s Cedric Golden, the Des Moines Register’s Randy Peterson and the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s Don Williams recently discussed their predictions for the Big 12 Championship, conference player of the year and more. As you might expect, with the Oklahoma Sooners surging to wins in their last four games, not to mention owning the last five conference titles, OU is one of the trendiest picks for these esteemed writers.
Of course, Oklahoma likely has to win out for it to maintain a realistic chance at returning to Arlington in December, and that starts with a high-stakes Bedlam matchup in Norman on Nov. 21. If the revitalized Sooners can pass that test, their hopes of a sixth straight conference crown will not only remain alive but also become much more attainable.
As far as Williams’ pick of OU as his biggest disappointment, I personally feel it’s a bit premature to cast that label on this team. The 0-2 start to Big 12 play was obviously unexpected, but in hindsight, considering the youth on this team in key areas, it makes a little more sense. I’d also argue that Oklahoma has grown more than any other team in the conference over the last month, and if that ends with a championship, I wouldn’t exactly call that disappointing.
Now for today’s Hot Links! Oklahoma’s defense finds a personality, OU Baseball inks 15 early signees, ‘The Weeknd’ will headline the next SB halftime concert and more!
- Lincoln Riley is known around college football as the QB whisperer, and his latest pupil — Spencer Rattler — may be young, but is already finding himself among some of the best to ever sling it. Currently, the redshirt freshman ranks third in the nation in passing grade, according to the analytics team from Pro Football Focus.
Oklahoma QBs passing grade & rank:— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 11, 2020
2016: Baker Mayfield - 94.6 (1st)
2017: Baker Mayfield - 94.5 (1st)
2018: Kyler Murray - 93.7 (1st)
2019: Jalen Hurts - 90.1 (5th)
2020: Spencer Rattler - 92.5 (3rd) pic.twitter.com/X1spnRyyGm
- At every level of the defense, Oklahoma has had the luxury of playing a number of freshmen defenders in key situations for valuable reps. SI Sooners John Hoover recently wrote about how these newcomers have earned their playing time in the eyes of Alex Grinch and Lincoln Riley.
- Speaking of the OU defense, ever since the 4OT win over the Texas Longhorns, Grinch’s group has developed an identity that’s boosted its confidence at the end of games. Now the players know they have the ability to close games on their terms, writes SI Sooners’ Parker Thune.
- OU Insider’s Joey Helmer recently caught up with sophomore LB David Ugwoegbu to talk about his elevated role in the middle of the defense and his thoughts on the young Sooners that have stood out to him this season.
- Skip Johnson’s OU baseball team signed 15 prospects on Wednesday — the first day of the November early signing period for the class of 2021. Among the signees was infielder Max McGwire, the son of 12-time MLB All-Star slugger Mark McGwire, out of Irvine, California.
Around the Sports World
- Due to a rising number of COVID-19 cases within the Maryland Terrapins’ program, the Terps’ upcoming game against the Ohio State Buckeyes has been canceled.
- Penn State Nittany Lions redshirt junior RB Journey Brown has been forced to medically retire from playing football due to a heart condition.
- The Los Angeles Lakers will not allow fan attendance inside the Staples Center for at least the start of the 2020-21 NBA season in light of safety concerns stemming from the ongoing viral pandemic.
- Musical artist ‘The Weeknd’ is set to perform at halftime during Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7, 2021. My partner doesn’t follow football at all, but I know she’ll be amped for this.
- Kentucky Wildcats offensive line coach John Schlarman passed away on Thursday following a two-year battle with cancer. The former UK lineman was 45 years old.
With extremely heavy hearts, we're devastated to announce @CoachSchlarman's passing.— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) November 12, 2020
Please keep the Schlarman family in your hearts and we'll always remain #SchlarmanStrong | #BigBlueWall https://t.co/fxyLVVzJmz pic.twitter.com/xLtY4DkXVW
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