The winning tradition continues under head coach Bob Stoops at Oklahoma. The Sooners won the Big 12 Conference championship in 2015, earning a trip to the College Football Playoffs before losing to Clemson in the second round.
The 2016 season is expected to be an encore performance, as the Sooners are the preseason favorite to win the Big 12 championship for a second straight year.
“It’s a group of guys – a good number of them back from last year’s Big 12 championship team and Final Four team is back – but it’s still a new team,” Stoops said at Tuesday’s Big 12 Media Day. “There are enough new pieces that it’s a new team all together. We’re just excited to be ready to start the season and looking forward to hopefully having another championship-type team.”
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There are of reasons for Stoops to be excited. He’s got a Heisman Trophy contender returning at quarterback.
Baker Mayfield is coming off a 2015 campaign that saw him named first team All-American and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year. The Texas Tech transfer had 572 yards of total offense against Tulsa while wearing a Sooners uniform and was tied for first in the conference with 36 touchdown passes.
The Sooners have never been shy about scheduling strong non-conference opponents early in the season. This year they face Houston and Ohio State before conference play begins. Surviving a tough non-conference schedule can help you later on down the road when you talk playoffs.
“I believe it made a difference a year ago – us getting in the playoff and getting into the Final Four – the fact that we went to Tennessee and won,” said Stoops. “It’s what college football fans all around the country want to see. I know it’s what our fans want to see, as long as you win.”
Stoops enters this season as the longest tenured coach in the FBS.
“I can’t wait for this season, much like I couldn’t 17 years ago for my first one as a head coach,” said Stoops. “Hopefully I’m going another 10 years or so.”
Oklahoma travels down to Houston to open the season against the Cougars Sept. 3 at 11 a.m.