OU football way-too-early, game-by-game predictions for 2024 Oklahoma Sooners season

NORMAN — With under three months before the start of college football, sportsbooks released their team win totals for the 2024 season.

The BetMGM online sportsbook set OU football’s win total at 7.5, behind eight other SEC schools and the same as Auburn. The sportsbook also has the Sooners’ odds to win the conference at +4000.

Texas, entering the SEC alongside OU, had its win total set at 10.5 after winning the Big 12 in 2023 and returning star quarterback Quinn Ewers. The Sooners will be led by a new offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator and quarterback in 2024.

Here are The Oklahoman’s way-too-early picks for every game on OU’s schedule:

More: Oklahoma football start windows, kickoff times announced for 2024 SEC games

Brent Venables runs on the field before an NCAA football game between University of Oklahoma (OU) and Iowa State at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023.
Brent Venables runs on the field before an NCAA football game between University of Oklahoma (OU) and Iowa State at the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman, Okla., on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2023.

vs. Temple

6 p.m., Aug. 30 (ESPN)

Aber: This game is going to be much more about OU than the matchup. How does Jackson Arnold command the offense after a complete offseason as the starting quarterback under his belt? How well does the offensive line protect him against an overmatched opponent? What do the defensive line rotations look like? What’s a Friday night home game look like in Norman? The Sooners will win this game handily, but how they do it will be the biggest indicator of how the rest of the season plays out.

Sulley: The Sooners’ first-ever Friday night game at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium shouldn’t be much of a contest. Temple finished 3-9 in 2023 for the second consecutive season. While OU avoided a potential late-summer 11 a.m. kick, it remains to be seen how many fans and students show up for a 6 p.m. start on the Friday before Labor Day, especially given it barely sold out the Arkansas State game last season. Also, the school can’t hold classes this day, can it? What I’ll be watching the most is what the gameday atmosphere will be like to kick off the inaugural season in the SEC.

vs. Houston

6:45 p.m., Sept. 7 (SEC Network)

Aber: I like the Willie Fritz hire. A lot. But the Cougars have a lot of rebuilding to do in the transition from Dana Holgorsen to Fritz. I look for Danny Stutsman to be key here, racking up boatloads of tackles behind an improved defensive line. I wish the Sooners had a marquee non-conference matchup (they were supposed to play Georgia in this slot before the game got scuttled due to OU’s move to the SEC), but the Sooners’ could’ve done much worse at that late date than scheduling Houston.

Sulley: Willie Fritz gave then-No. 2 OU fits in 2021 when he was the head coach at Tulane. I don’t expect a repeat as Fritz begins his rebuild of Houston. The Sooners should make easy work of the Cougars in their second consecutive night game to start the season.

More: Grading each SEC team's chance to make College Football Playoff | Toppmeyer

vs. Tulane

Sep 17, 2022; Boone, North Carolina, USA; Troy Trojans head coach Jon Sumrall on the sidelines against the Appalachian State Mountaineers during the second half at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 17, 2022; Boone, North Carolina, USA; Troy Trojans head coach Jon Sumrall on the sidelines against the Appalachian State Mountaineers during the second half at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

2:30 p.m. Sept. 14 (ESPN or ESPN2)

Aber: A non-conference slate (well, early non-conference slate, more on that later) without an 11 a.m. kickoff? Be still my heart. The biggest test here will be the Green Wave defense now that Jon Sumrall is Tulane’s head coach. The Sooners figure to win going away, but Arnold will need to be sharp here, avoiding costly turnovers to keep the Green Wave from feeling like it has a chance late. No one on the OU side wants a down-to-the-wire game like Tulane gave the Sooners in 2021.

Sulley: One thing is for certain for the Sooners if they want a shot at the new 12-team College Football Playoff, they must win all four non-conference games. This should be another easy win for OU but could be one of the more critical games with Tennessee on the docket the next week. If you’re the Sooners you don’t want a stinker the week before playing the Vols.

vs. Tennessee

Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel during UT's first spring football practice on Monday, March 18, 2024.
Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel during UT's first spring football practice on Monday, March 18, 2024.

Sept. 21

Aber: All right, this is when the Sooners’ move to the SEC becomes really real. It won’t be all warm and fuzzy for Josh Heupel’s return to Norman, as he has a tough squad coming to face the Sooners in the first-ever SEC game at Gaylord Family — Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. With a team in transition and facing their first big test, Jackson Arnold leads the way for the Sooners to continue to build momentum.

Sulley: Josh Heupel’s return to Norman and OU’s first conference matchup in the SEC will not be an easy one. Two of the top quarterback recruits in the 2023 class will meet with Jackson Arnold facing Nico Iamaleava. While it’s early, I’m picking the Sooners at home to win a close one. I’m intrigued to see how both teams’ lines play against each other.

at Auburn

Sept. 28

Aber: It’s one thing to play an SEC game at home, but going on the road in the league is a different story. But it’s about the perfect scenario for the Sooners — a true SEC road environment (sorry, Vanderbilt), but yet a game that should be very winnable. The Tigers averaged just 351 yards of offense last season, and while they figure to be moderately better this season, it won’t be enough to beat the Sooners.

Sulley: OU’s first road test also won’t be easy. But I’ll give the Sooners the edge as they’re deeper and I like Jackson Arnold to outduel Payton Thorne.

vs. Texas (in Dallas)

Oklahoma Sooners wide receiver Nic Anderson (4) celebrates a touchdown beside Texas Longhorns defensive back Jerrin Thompson (28) late in the fourth quarter during the Red River Rivalry college football game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the University of Texas (UT) Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. Oklahoma won 34-30.

2:30 p.m., Oct. 12 (ABC or ESPN)

Aber: You can never completely write off the Sooners in the Cotton Bowl, as we’ve seen in recent years. But this Texas team looks primed for another strong run at a playoff berth. OU keeps this one respectable but in the end, Quinn Ewers lifts the Longhorns to a win.

Sulley: This game, like it usually does, will tell us what we need to know about how OU will do next season. Texas, a playoff team in 2023, is loaded and returns quarterback Quinn Ewers. The Red River Rivalry is always a toss-up, but the Longhorns seem like they will be the better team in 2024. Overall, I’m excited for a 2:30 p.m. kick for the first time since 2017.

vs. South Carolina

Oct. 19

Aber: Josh Heupel’s return will get more attention, and rightfully so, but Shane Beamer’s return to Norman will be a major one as well. Beamer has done a strong job with the Gamecocks, but winning at OU will be a tall task for Beamer’s squad. This is a must-win game for the Sooners and they’ll win it.

Sulley: I’d group this game with the Tennessee and Auburn contests. Not the toughest on the schedule but must-win games for the Sooners if they want to reach their ultimate goals. OU should have the better team and win at home.

at Mississippi

Oct. 26

Aber: Has any coach rehabilitated his image the way Lane Kiffin has during his Ole Miss tenure? Kiffin’s coaching acumen was rightfully questioned earlier in his career but he’s blossomed as one of the game’s best, and his personality is well-suited for the current landscape in the sport. The Rebels beefed up in the transfer portal, and beat the Sooners in Oxford. They also show OU fans what SEC tailgating is all about.

Sulley: This is where it gets interesting. Mississippi’s win total currently sits at 9.5. I’d rank Lane Kiffin’s team higher right now but my opinion on this game could change as the season inches closer.

vs. Maine

1:30 p.m., Nov. 2 (ESPN+, SEC Network+)

Aber: The November non-conference cupcake game in the SEC is one that has gotten plenty of scrutiny, but the Sooners will be glad to get this breather — with what they’ve been through and what they will go through. OU uses this one to get healthy, and figure out if there are young players who can play bigger roles down the stretch.

Sulley: OU is going to need this traditional late-season non-conference game the SEC has had for years. The Sooners couldn’t have gotten Maine at a better time in the schedule. Easy win.

at Missouri

Nov. 9 

Aber: Think the Sooners’ defensive line will be motivated here with Cayden Green on the other side? This game will be a dogfight, with quarterback Brady Cook and receiver Luther Burden and former Sooner Theo Wease powering the offense. But OU finds a way late to pull this one out, setting the stage for a massive two-game stretch to end the season.

Sulley: This is one of many games to circle on your calendars. Missouri is coming off a 10-win season and an incredible offseason of roster additions. I’ll say the Sooners’ added depth secures a win. But I’m not confident in that pick. This also feels like a renewed rivalry brewing.

vs. Alabama

Dec 2, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Milroe (4) warms up before the SEC Championship Game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 2, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Milroe (4) warms up before the SEC Championship Game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Nov. 23

Aber: The Crimson Tide might suffer a slight downtick as they transition from Nick Saban to Kalen DeBoer, but Alabama is still a juggernaut and Alabama escapes Norman with a win. The Sooners get to Crimson Tide quarterback Jalen Milroe often, showing off their improved defensive line, but Milroe makes just enough plays to lift Alabama to victory.

Sulley: Along with the Texas game, this is the toughest contest on OU’s schedule. Getting the Tide at home helps the Sooners, but Alabama’s talent and Jalen Milroe’s experience in big games should get it done.

at LSU

Nov. 30

Aber: Jackson Arnold and the Sooners’ offense should be able to move the ball against a defense that was plenty suspect last year. But even though the Tigers lose Jayden Daniels, the offense should still be plenty potent with Garrett Nussmeier behind center. Winning in Death Valley is also difficult, and won’t be any easier in the final game of the regular season with plenty likely to be on the line. The Sooners keep it close into the second half before LSU pulls away in the fourth quarter.

Sulley: The road game I’m looking forward to the most. Let’s hope we get Death Valley at night. The atmosphere alone will make this a tough game to win but as of now, I think OU has a deeper team. I’m fascinated to see how the Tigers will do in Brian Kelly’s third season and with new quarterback Garrett Nussmeier.

Overall record

Aber: I’m a bit less optimistic than Colton here when it comes to the Sooners’ overall record, predicting an 8-4 finish. But that doesn’t mean OU doesn’t show improvement from last year’s squad, just that the competition level is stepped up. It will make OU better in the long run, but there will be some growing pains as the Sooners make the transition into the SEC.

Sulley: For now, I’m predicting the Sooners to finish 9-3, which would be a successful season in my mind. If we do this again before the season, my predictions will inevitably look different. I could really see OU finishing anywhere from 7-5 to 10-2 as a lot of the SEC games should be tight contests.

This article originally appeared on Oklahoman: OU football way-too-early, game-by-game predictions for 2024 season

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