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Are No. 9 Oklahoma Sooners facing unfair scrutiny?

It’s a transition year for the Oklahoma Sooners.

Former head coach Lincoln Riley left town for USC, taking quarterback Caleb Williams and several others with him. In response, Oklahoma brought in former Sooners assistant Brent Venables, who left his defensive coordinator position at Clemson to replace Riley.

The Sooners are certainly a hot topic on the national scene, and FOX Sports College Football Writer RJ Young faced questions in his first mailbag edition of “The No. 1 College Football Show” on Thursday, including one reader wondering why the Sooners had faced so much “hate.”

The No. 9 Sooners open their season against UTEP on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app).

Q: Why is everyone hating on Oklahoma? Will their minds change after seeing them in Week 1? — Chuck Perez

The fan didn’t specify what he meant by “hating on.” Despite all the personnel losses, the Sooners are ranked No. 9 in the nation. 

“I didn’t know that people were hating on Oklahoma to begin with. Honestly, I think it’s been nothing but a honeymoon period for Brent Venables and Oklahoma since he took the job,” Young replied. “I don’t know that it’s hating on them. I think it’s that Oklahoma had won the last six Big 12 championships in a row and they just fell short [last season] in an 11-win season.”

Young pointed out that it wasn’t so much hate as it was skepticism that was directed at Oklahoma, based on the fact that the Sooner didn’t even reach the Big 12 Championship, let alone win it, then their coach left.

“You also saw Lincoln Riley take himself, the starting quarterback, one of the better wide receivers, and half the staff to USC,” he said. “You saw Brent Venables fill that gap pretty quickly and with what I think is a crack staff that’s gonna have an opportunity to go win a Big 12 championship this year.”

Despite returning only nine starters from last season, the Sooners do have a wealth of talent, including quarterback Dillon Gabriel (considered a Heisman dark horse by some), running back Eric Gray (412 rushing yards as a backup) and receiver Marvin Mims (705 receiving yards).

Their talent should keep the Sooners in the running for the conference title. But to really quiet the doubters, Young points out, they’ll have to think bigger.

“It’s just that we want to see Oklahoma compete for a national championship. That hasn’t happened since 2008,” he said. “I’d like to see Oklahoma not just get to the College Football Playoffs … I’d like to see them win a national semifinal. So if that’s what you’re calling hate, I’ll take that, because I like winning 11, 12 games a year. I’m not sure that’s going to happen with a move to the SEC.”

Also in the episode, Young answered a number of other interesting questions, including:

+ Who has a better chance to win the Heisman, Caleb Williams or Spencer Rattler?

+ Will Oklahoma and Oklahoma State stop playing each other once Oklahoma heads to the SEC?

+ Will No. 7 Utah make a statement to start the season?

You can catch more of the conversation from “The Number One College Football Show” on YouTube, or by subscribing to the show on Apple podcasts or your favorite podcast app.

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