Sooners Picked to Win Fifth Straight Big 12 Title
NORMAN — Oklahoma has won each of the last four Big 12 championships, and media who cover the league have picked the Sooners to win another in 2019. For the seventh time in the nine years since the Big 12 moved to 10 teams, OU is the choice to win the league championship in a preseason poll released Wednesday.
Lincoln Riley's Sooners, who went 12-2 each of the last two seasons while making College Football Playoff appearances, and who have posted an 18-2 record against Big 12 opponents during that period, garnered 68 of the poll's 77 first-place votes. OU tallied 761 poll points to outpace second-place Texas (696 points, nine first-place votes) by 65 points. Third-place Iowa State totaled 589 points and was followed by TCU (474), Oklahoma State (460), Baylor (453), Texas Tech (281), West Virginia (241), Kansas State (191) and Kansas (89).
If Oklahoma wins the 2019 league title, it will mark the Sooners' 13th such championship in the conference's 24 years. No other school has won more than three total. Since OU's first Big 12 title in 2000, no other program has won more than two.
The Sooners return 14 starters from last year's team that beat Texas 39-27 in the Big 12 Championship and finished fourth in the AP and coaches polls.
Four offensive starters are back in 2019, including preseason All-Big 12 picks Grant Calcaterra (tight end), Creed Humphrey (offensive lineman) and CeeDee Lamb (wide receiver). They are joined by running back Trey Sermon, who rushed for 947 yards and a team-high 13 touchdowns last season.
Led by linebacker and Big 12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year Kenneth Murray, OU welcomes back 10 starters on that side of the ball. Also returning are defensive linemen Neville Gallimore, Kenneth Mann and Ronnie Perkins, linebacker Caleb Kelly and defensive backs Robert Barnes, Tre Brown, Parnell Motley, Tre Norwood and Brendan Radley-Hiles.
OU opens the 2019 season Sunday, Sept. 1, when it hosts Houston at 6:30 p.m. CT. The Big 12 will hold its championship game Saturday, Dec. 7, at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The game will feature the top two finishers in the league standings.