Count Joel Klatt as a believer in Oklahoma football.
Despite the Sooners’ 6-7 finish under Brent Venables in 2022, Fox’s lead college football game analyst has OU “almost” in his “way too early” preseason top 10 for 2023.
“I considered them for the reason that they just lost a ton of close games,” Klatt said this week on his college football podcast, “The Joel Klatt Show.”
“There was really only two games that they got blown out,” Klatt continued. “And, by the way, in both of those games, they basically lost their quarterback — either he was knocked out of the game, Dillon Gabriel against TCU, or didn’t play in the Texas game. And then when he was on the field, what did they do? Played one-possession games. Unfortunately, they lost them all.”
The Sooners started Venables’ rookie season at 3-0 with a 49-14 win over Nebraska in Lincoln. But they then lost three straight to Big 12 champion Kansas State by seven, at national runner-up TCU and rival Texas — the latter two after Gabriel went down with a concussion.
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From there, OU beat Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma State, but lost 38-35 to Baylor, 23-20 at West Virginia, 51-48 at Texas Tech and 35-32 to Florida State in the Cheez-It Bowl.
“They were like the the direct opposite of what TCU was this year,” Klatt said. “TCU was a team that, when they got into a close game, they ended up winning that close game. And here’s Oklahoma 0-5 in one-score games; so here’s an Oklahoma team that won six games and then they were 0-5 in one-score games. That easily flips.”
Klatt’s 2023 top 10 consists of Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama, Penn State, LSU, Florida State, USC, Tennessee and Washington. OU is in a group with Oregon, Notre Dame, TCU and Clemson on the cusp of the top 10.
Klatt pointed out that in this year’s final regular-season Associated Press Top 25, the top 12 teams all had at least 10 wins.
“What all those teams have in common, generally speaking, they have 10 or more victories,” Klatt said, “and I think Oklahoma could be in that category. They’re a team that could climb very easily. This is a team that under Brent Venables has done a great job in recruiting, and with Dillon Gabriel back and healthy, I just don’t see a reason why Oklahoma can’t improve dramatically, win some of those close games and be a 9-, 10-, maybe even 11-win team.”
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