Let’s get to it on the offensive side of the ball.
Quarterback: Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight hasn’t used the Sugar Bowl performance as the type of springboard that many hoped he would. Knight has been doomed by major highs and horrible lows. His inconsistency is about the only thing consistent thus far this season. He got off to a great start and has completed 59 percent of his passes and has 1,821 yards and nine touchdowns. His six interceptions are a looming cloud – two of which turned into defensive touchdowns.
Best-case scenario – Knight is coming off his best game of the season, and Cody Thomas showed that he can step in during a game and make the plays to keep Oklahoma afloat. Knight’s play only gets better, throwing just one more interception the rest of the way and leading the Sooners to a co-Big 12 title after routing Baylor.
Worst-case scenario – Knight proves that the Sugar Bowl was a total apparition. He finishes the year with double digit interceptions, and Oklahoma stumbles badly. The Sooners are stunned by Iowa State, lose to Baylor by 25 points and are upset in the final game of the season by rival Oklahoma State. The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is the destination. Baker Mayfield is the favorite to start next season.
Running backs: Without a clear lead ball carrier or any real collegiate experience, the Sooners’ rushing attack has been the biggest surprise of the season. Freshman Samaje Perine is second in the Big 12 in rushing yards and leads the conference in rushing touchdowns. Alex Ross has shown great explosiveness and is developing as a three-down runner. All of this is being done without preseason starter Keith Ford, who might be the best back of the bunch.
Best-case scenario – Ford returns next week for a game against Iowa State, taking a share of the early load from Perine, which allows the freshman to fall back into a role as the late-game hammer. Perine’s production slows only slightly in terms of yards but continues his touchdown rampage. Perine and Ford each finish the season with more than 60 yards per game, and Ross averages more than eight yards per touch.
Worst-case scenario – Perine, who didn’t have many carries in high school, finally snaps under the immense pressure. Perine succumbs to an injury, and Ford’s foot gets worse – he’s held out until Bedlam. Ross takes the lead back role, but he isn’t ready. Oklahoma’s offensive line can’t create holes, and the Sooners average just 3.5 yards per carry the rest of the way.
Wide receivers: Sterling Shepard has been even better than Oklahoma could have imagined. He’s one of the top receivers in the nation and a contender for the Biletnikoff Award. He has two of the top five single-game performances in Oklahoma history during the first seven games of this season alone. Behind him, there’s a still a lot of unknown.
Best-case scenario – Shepard continues his torrid pace and wins the Biletnikoff Award. Michiah Quick, who made his first start last week, hits an exponential curve and becomes Shepard’s running buddy – dominating underneath routes. In a No. 3 role, Durron Neal re-emerges as a threat as well.
Worst-case scenario – Quick isn’t what he was advertised to be – at least not yet. Nobody emerges in Oklahoma’s receiving corps opposite Shepard, and teams are able to double team him every snap, vastly limiting his numbers. He finished the season with less than 1,200 yard. He currently has 911.
Tight end: This group was never going to be a big part of Oklahoma’s offense, but as of now, starter Blake Bell has been good. He has 11 catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns.
Best-case scenario – Bell becomes a bigger part of the offense, catching passes over the middle and giving Oklahoma’s receivers a chance to be great on the outside. He finished with 20 catches and nearly 300 yards while catching four touchdowns in the final five games.
Worst-case scenario – Bell fights through nagging injuries, forcing Taylor to take more snaps. McNamara isn’t the blocker that Bell is and hasn’t shown enough to get on the field. It hurts Oklahoma much more in the run game than the passing game.
Offensive line: The depth and talent of Oklahoma’s offensive line was well documented before the season. The true depth hasn’t even been shown because of a lack of injuries. Oklahoma has averaged 5.1 yards per carry and allowed just five sacks thus far this season.
Best-case scenario – Oklahoma re-discovers its talent over the final five games of the season and remains without serious injury. The Sooners average six yards per carry and eclipse the 200-yard mark twice during the final portion of the season, going unbeaten to close out the year.
Worst-case scenario – The injury bug finally bites, and it bites hard. Right tackle and senior leader Daryl Williams misses the rest of the season, and Tyrus Thompson, Adam Shead and Dionte Savage each miss time. Oklahoma can’t recover from the loss of its leaders and stumbles to pass protect – ultimately leading to an injury to Knight.