NORMAN — For just the fourth time in the last 13 years, Oklahoma is not the preseason media choice to win the Big 12 Conference football title. OU, which has won six of the last eight Big 12 championships, was picked to finish third out of 14 teams in the 2023 Big 12 Preseason Poll that was released by the league office on Thursday. The 2023 season will mark the Sooners’ last in the Big 12 before moving to the Southeastern Conference in July 2024.
OU, which has posted a 61-14 record against Big 12 opponents over the last eight years (includes a 4-0 record in Big 12 Championship games), received four first-place votes in the poll and 758 total points. Texas, which last won the conference title in 2009, was picked to win the league with 41 firstplace votes and 886 total points, while Kansas State, last year’s Big 12 champion, was picked to finish second with 14 first-place votes and 858 points. Texas Tech (four first-place votes, 729 points) and Texas Christian University (three first-place votes, 727 points) completed the top five.
The rest of the poll included Baylor in the No. 6 spot with 572 points, followed by Oklahoma State at No. 7 (one firstplace vote, 470 points), Central Florida at No. 8 (463 points), Kansas at No. 9 (461 points), Iowa State at No. 10 (334 points), Brigham Young University at No. 11 (318 points), Houston at No. 12 (215 points), Cincinnati at No. 13 (202 points) and West Virginia at No. 14 (129 points). UCF, BYU, Houston and Cincinnati are in their first year as Big 12 members.
Since the conference’s inception in 1996, OU has won 14 of the league’s 27 championships. No other school has won more than three total. The Sooners’ 50 all-time conference championships lead the country.
OU returns 10 players who started at least nine games in 2022, which was Brent Venables’ first year as coach.
Five OU offensive players who started at least 10 games are back from 2022 in quarterback Dillon Gabriel, wide receivers Jalil Farooq and Drake Stoops and offensive linemen McKade Mettauer and Andrew Raym.
The Sooners return five defensive players who made at least nine starts a year ago in defensive linemen Ethan Downs (2023 preseason All-Big 12) and Reggie Grimes, linebacker Danny Stutsman (led Big 12 in tackles in 2022) and defensive backs Billy Bowman and Woodi Washington. Defensive lineman Isaiah Coe started six games last season.
Big 12 Media Days take place Wednesday and Thursday at Cowboys AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. OU will take its turn on Thursday and will be represented by Venables, Gabriel, Stoops, Stutsman and defensive lineman Jonah Laulu.
The Sooners open the 2023 season at 11 a.m. Sept. 2 when they entertain Arkansas State.