One columnist’s forecast for the 2019 football season...
OU: Sugar... They beat LSU and feel a little better about losing the 2003 national championship game to the same team in the same setting.
OSU: Camping World... They beat Virginia by 40.
TU: To be continued in 2020.
Most valuable players
OU: Jalen Hurts... He earns Heisman consideration into late November, but falls shy of finalists Tua Tagovailoa, Trevor Lawrence and D’Andre Swift.
OSU: Tylan Wallace... He wins the Biletnikoff Award he deserved to win in 2018.
TU: Cooper Edmiston... The Hurricane linebacker benefits from being really, really good, and from opposing coordinators ganging up on Zaven Collins and Trevis Gipson.
He bursts on the scene
OU: Tre Brown... The cornerback from Union has the instinct, athleticism and ball skills to thrive under new coordinator/safties coach Alex Grinch.
OSU: Tom Hutton... The punter from Australia becomes All-Big 12 thanks to his booming kicks and charming back story.
TU: Keylon Stokes... The Hurricane’s leading receiver would have broken out a year ago with better quarterback play; now he seizes his chance.
Games of the year
OU: The Sooners punch a ticket to New Orleans while dashing Texas’ playoff hopes in a 38-35 Big 12 Championship classic.
OSU: The Pokes dash OU’s playoff hopes in the regular-season finale in Stillwater, 44-38.
TU: The Hurricane catches the Cowboys napping in Week 3, take a narrow lead in the fourth quarter, and fall valiantly, 28-24.
Letdowns of the year
OU: I’d say a rare Bedlam defeat qualifies.
OSU: The Cowboys awaken in time to beat TU, but not West Virginia in the Morgantown sleet Nov. 23.
TU: The Hurricane beats Memphis in a rousing game Oct. 26, then turn around and squander a big lead at Tulane the following Saturday.
OU: Trey Sermon has 26 carries, 246 yards and four touchdowns to help grind out a win at Kansas State Oct. 26.
OSU: Malcolm Rodriguez 15 tackles, two forced fumbles and an interception in a narrow loss at Iowa State Oct. 26.
TU: Stokes 13 catches for 205 yards and three scores in a 51-49 escape of SMU Oct. 5.
As for the quarterbacks
OU: Hurts is terrific, but that doesn’t keep Sooner fans from salivating over freshman Spencer Rattler, who Lincoln Riley uses to part-time “redshirt rule” effect.
OSU: Spencer Sanders and Dru Brown both struggle in September before Sanders seizes the position in a come-from-behind win at Texas Tech Oct. 5.
TU: Seth Boomer makes more plays in his second year, Zach Smith throws the occasional 60-yard strike, but running backs Shamari Brooks and Corey Taylor II are the focal points of Philip Montgomery’s offense.
And the head coaches
OU: Riley misses the playoff for the first time, but his star remains bright. When Jerry Jones fires Jason Garrett around the time OU kicks off the Sugar, Sooner Nation starts a vigil similar to when Florida came after Bob Stoops in 2002.
OSU: Mike Gundy goes a second straight postseason without teasing Cowboy fans about Tennessee, Arkansas or any other job. As a bonus, Gundy fends off suitors for Sean Gleeson and keeps his play-caller.
TU: Montgomery takes a step toward restoring his offensive reputation, just not enough to jump to a Power 5 school.
OU: Defensive tackles coach Ruffin McNeill retires to his beloved wife, and his beloved boat, after the 2019 season.
OSU: Defensive coordinator Jim Knowles decides two years of Big 12 torture is enough, heads east after the season and resumes his career closer to his Philadelphia roots.
TU: Defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie parlays a second straight season of noticeable Hurricane defense into a job as Gary Patterson’s defensive coordinator/linebackers coach at TCU.