Oklahoma Sooners in the top 3 in Athlon Sports early 2023 power rankings

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We have officially reached prediction time for the far-off 2023 college football season. For Oklahoma Sooners fans, anything to think about other than the rough 2022 campaign is a welcome distraction. Our friends at Athlon Sports don’t have the Sooners at the top of the Big 12 next season, but fairly close.

Brent Venables and his staff have dealt with another exodus from the roster, but have filled key positions via the transfer portal. Venables’ success in the portal is one of the key points Steven Lassan raises when discussing the Sooners’ chances for next year. The Sooners come in at No. 3.

The first season under coach Brent Venables resulted in a 6-7 finish, but the Sooners should rebound into Big 12 title consideration in ’23. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel is back, and the one-two punch of Jovantae Barnes and Gavin Sawchuk is promising at running back. Restocking Gabriel’s weapons at receiver and improving along the offensive line top the list of priorities for coordinator Jeff Lebby. Oklahoma’s defense gave up 30 points a game in ’22, but an infusion of transfers – Linemen Rondell Bothroyd (Wake Forest), Trace Ford (Oklahoma State), and Jacob Lacey (Notre Dame) and linebacker Dasan McCullough (Indiana) – provide optimism for improvement next fall. Of Oklahoma’s seven losses, five came by seven or fewer points last year. – Lassan, Athlon Sports

Lassan had only Texas and TCU ahead of the Sooners in his early rankings for the Big 12.

To be frank, it can’t get worse for Brent Venables in year two. If it does get worse, then the Sooners will need to start asking some serious questions about their head coach.

Until then, seeing the Sooners back near the top of the Big 12 rankings will be a welcomed sight in 2023.

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire