ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) ranks Oklahoma as having the seventh most challenging schedule and the tenth highest probability of reaching the College Football Playoff.

Oklahoma athletics director Joe Castiglione mentioned during the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida, last week that OU is aiming for a higher level of competition as it moves from the Big 12 to the SEC.

In their first season in the newly expanded 16-team league, the Sooners will undoubtedly face tougher competition. After wrapping up their final Big 12 season with the nation’s 50th-ranked strength of schedule, Oklahoma is set to enter 2024 with the seventh-toughest schedule in college football, according to ESPN’s updated FPI projections for the upcoming season.

While Oklahoma’s strength of schedule is impressive compared to the rest of the FBS, it ranks just inside the top half of the SEC. The six teams with tougher schedules than the Sooners—Florida, Mississippi State, Georgia, Kentucky, Auburn, and Alabama—are all also in the SEC.

In fact, nine of the nation’s ten toughest schedules for 2024 belong to SEC teams. Following Oklahoma are Tennessee with the eighth-toughest schedule and Texas with the tenth. The only non-SEC team in the top ten is Georgia Tech, which ranks ninth.

ESPN’s FPI (Football Power Index) is a metric that tracks each FBS team’s strength relative to an average FBS team. The FPI rates teams based on offense, defense and special teams, with the values for each representing points per game. ESPN’s preseason FPI also provides forecasts for every team’s record, its chances of winning a conference title and the probability of the team making the College Football Playoff, which this season is expanding to a 12-team format for the first time ever.

Although Oklahoma’s strength of schedule in the FPI was notable, the Sooners are ranked No. 8 overall in the preseason FPI ratings. They trail No. 1 Georgia (26.8), No. 2 Oregon (24.5), No. 3 Texas (22.9), No. 4 Ohio State (22.2), No. 5 Alabama (21.9), No. 6 Penn State (19.8), and No. 7 Notre Dame (19.0). Oklahoma’s FPI, which represents the expected margin of victory against an average FBS opponent on a neutral field, is 17.2. The index projects Brent Venables’ team to win 8.2 games and gives them a 0.8% chance of going undefeated this fall.

According to the FPI, Oklahoma has a 92.4% chance of winning at least six games and securing a bowl berth for the 26th consecutive season, along with a 5.1% chance of winning the SEC title. Georgia leads with a 32.8% chance of winning the SEC.

Oklahoma also has a 36.6% chance of making the newly expanded 12-team College Football Playoff this season, ranking 10th among FBS teams and sixth among SEC schools. Georgia (79.1%), Texas (67.8%), Alabama (57.2%), Missouri (37.3%), and Tennessee (36.9%) have better playoff chances than Oklahoma, which will face four of these five teams in its first SEC season.

FPI projects Oklahoma to have a 6% chance of making the College Football Playoff final, scheduled for January 20, 2025, in Atlanta. These are the ninth-best odds, behind Georgia (31.6%), Oregon (24.4%), Texas (20.6%), Ohio State (19%), Alabama (15.3%), Penn State (13.3%), Notre Dame (10%), and Florida State (6.1%).

Oklahoma’s chances of winning the national title, which would be their first since the 2000 season, are 2.8%. This ranks them behind seven other programs: Georgia (21%), Oregon (12.8%), Texas (11.4%), Ohio State (10.5%), Alabama (8.5%), Penn State (6.6%), and Notre Dame (4.8%).

Additionally, here’s a quick look at where Oklahoma’s 11 FBS opponents rank in the recently updated FPI entering the season (out of 134 FBS teams):

The Polynesian Bowl is enhancing its lineup with more talent, particularly from Texas, as seen in the recent addition of Jonathan Hatton Jr., a Top247 running back from Cibolo (Texas) Steele. The Oklahoma commit joins a skilled roster set to compete in Hawaii in January 2025.

Standing at 6-feet tall and weighing 205 pounds, Hatton is ranked as the 11th best running back nationally and the 13th overall prospect in Texas, according to 247Sports.

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