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Sporting News Top 25: Previewing the 2018 Oklahoma Sooners

Sporting News Top 25: Previewing the 2018 Oklahoma Sooners

Oklahoma won its third consecutive Big 12 title, returned to the College Football Playoff for the second time in three years, and its sixth Heisman Trophy with Baker Mayfield in 2017. But Lincoln Riley, now readying for his second season as Bob Stoops’ replacement, wants more.

It’s widely expected the Kyler Murray era has begun in Norman, but 2016 backup Austin Kendall, who redshirted last year, may have something to say about who replaces Mayfield. Receiving threats Mark Andrews, Jeff Badet and Dimitri Flowers are gone, but the speedy Marquise Brown and steady CeeDee Lamb are back. So is a backfield loaded with talent, like the versatile Rodney Anderson and thunderous Trey Sermon.

Oklahoma is ranked No. 5 in Sporting News’ way-too-early top 25 heading into spring practice, but without college football’s most outstanding player behind center and several stars missing from a defense that ranked 57th in the nation overall, do the Sooners have enough to win a fourth straight Big 12 title?

The nonconference schedule is rugged: Lane Kiffin’s up-and-coming Florida Atlantic, Chip Kelly’s new-look UCLA and an always-scrappy Army team all come to Norman, but that season- finale at West Virginia could be a preview of the Big 12 title game the following week.

Here’s a spring primer for the 2018 season.

Columns

Hoover wrote for the Tulsa World for 24 years before joining The Franchise, where he's now co-host of "Further Review" on The Franchise Tulsa (weekdays 12-3, fm107.9/am1270) . In his time at the World, Hoover won numerous writing and reporting awards, including in 2011 National Beat Writer of the Year from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his work covering the Oklahoma Sooners. Hoover also covered Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Oral Roberts and the NFL as a beat writer. From 2012 to 2016, Hoover was the World's lead sports columnist. As a columnist, Hoover won national awards in 2012 and 2014 from the National Athletic Trainers Association for reporting on sports medicine and in 2015 won first place in sports columns from the Oklahoma Society of Professional Journalists. After receiving a journalism degree from East Central University, Hoover worked at newspapers in Ada, Okmulgee, Tahlequah and Waynesville, Mo. He played football at Ada High School and grew up in North Pole, Alaska. Hoover and his family live in Broken Arrow.

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