The Oklahoma Sooners faced a very difficult transition in 2022. Lincoln Riley, an enormously successful coach, left the program at the end of the 2021 season and was succeeded by Brent Venables, who had to establish his own system and method without Caleb Williams and a number of crucially important Oklahoma players who followed Riley out the door and accompanied him to USC. The roster churn and disruption in the 2022 offseason led to a bumpy ride for the Sooners on the field last year. Now that Venables has one year under his belt. He had more time to make various adjustments. The hope is that Oklahoma will be ready to return to their familiar place of prominence in the Big 12. It’s their last Big 12 season before they move to the SEC for the 2024 college football season. Let’s take a look at the best bets to make with this squad in 2023.
2023 Oklahoma Sooners Futures
Odds To Win Big 12: +420 at YouWager Sportsbook
Odds To Win National Championship: +6500 at YouWager Sportsbook
Best Bet To Win Heisman
Dillon Gabriel is priced at +4000 to win the Heisman. He isn’t a likely winner, but he isn’t the longest of all possible long shots, either. Gabriel had a very successful tenure as the quarterback at UCF before coming to Oklahoma. He is a proven quarterback with speed, arm talent, and experience. He missed a significant portion of the 2022 season with injuries. When healthy, he makes this Oklahoma offense very dangerous.
The bottom line for Gabriel is that to have any shot at the Heisman this year, he must win at least 10 games and bring Oklahoma a Big 12 championship. If he falls short of either one of those two goals, he won’t win the Heisman. He probably won’t even be a Heisman Trophy finalist. However, if he can reach those two goals, and some of the other top Heisman contenders do not hit the mark this season, Gabriel might have a chance to sneak in and surprise a lot of people.
Pick: Dillon Gabriel
Best Player Prop To Bet
Gavin Sawchuk Rushing Yards
Gavin Sawchuk is a freshman who produced over 100 rushing yards in last season’s bowl game against a tough Florida State defense, which is expected to be even better this season. Sawchuk has plenty of upside. Therefore, if you do see any rushing yardage props attached to Sawchuk at any point this season, the number might be noticeably high. The number might be set based on an expectation that the public will fall in love with Sawchuk’s potential and think he can explode this season for the Sooners and their retooled offense.
We don’t have a number for Sawchuk right now. If you do see a rushing yards prop, the chances are that the number will be set high in line with the running back’s potential.
However, because Dillon Gabriel will need the ball in his hands in order to give Oklahoma’s offense the best possible chance of scoring in bunches and being supremely productive this season, our thought process is that Sawchuk won’t get the large number of carries he will need to reach or exceed a high yardage total. Therefore, if you do see a number for Gavin Sawchuk rushing yards in 2023, you should go under the total.
Pick: Gavin Sawchuk under rushing yards
Regular Season Win Total
As noted above, this will be Oklahoma’s last season in the Big 12 Conference. The Sooners and Texas will move to the SEC in 2024. For this one season, the Big 12 will have 14 teams with BYU, Cincinnati, UCF and Houston all in the mix. And OU still in the conference with Texas.
The four newcomers will create a fascinating new balance of power. However, what that balance of power will look like is anyone’s guess. The Big 12 has the most wide-open conference race of any of the Power Five conferences in 2023 college football. The SEC, ACC, Pac-12, and Big Ten all have more clearly-established hierarchies at the top of the league. The Big 12 could become a real mess, in large part because Oklahoma – the long-dominant program in the Big 12 – was so bad last year and is such a question mark entering this season. Lincoln Riley never lost more than two games in a season at Oklahoma. Venables struggled to reach .500 in his first regular season with the Sooners, barely reaching that goal at the end of the season. Oklahoma’s success is likely this year, but it can’t be taken for granted the way it was under Lincoln Riley.
Examining The Schedule
The Sooners’ 2023 Big 12 schedule is highly intriguing because of the new conference opponents in the mix, joining the more familiar foes in the conference. Here are the most challenging games for the Sooners: OU is at Cincinnati, in Dallas for the neutral-site game versus Texas, home versus UCF, at Oklahoma State, at BYU, and home against TCU.
The Texas and Oklahoma State games figure to be particularly tough for Oklahoma. If the Sooners can win one of those two games, they should feel optimistic about their chances of winning the Big 12. At Cincinnati could be tricky, but Oklahoma does have more talent than the Bearcats. UCF’s offense will test Oklahoma’s defense. Even so, it’s hard to see how UCF’s defense will have an answer for Oklahoma’s offense. Oklahoma should have better skill position players than BYU does, plus an overall edge in team speed. TCU made the national championship game in college football last season, but the Horned Frogs won’t be nearly as good in 2023. Ultimately, if Oklahoma splits the Texas-Oklahoma State pair of games, it should go over the total, but if it loses both of those games, it has to go 10-0 in the other 10 games, and that’s not likely. Oklahoma still has too many question marks and unsettled situations on its roster. Venables is likely to bring OU back to the top tier of the sport, but he might need one more year in which to make that happen. Lean toward the under at 9.5 wins.