When the 2021 college football season kicked off, Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler was considered perhaps the sport's biggest star. The redshirt sophomore, who got a big endorsement deal over the summer, was the +400 favorite to win the Heisman Trophy as well as the favorite to be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. However, while the Sooners are unbeaten Rattler has not played as well as a season ago, is now a +6000 Heisman long shot, has seen his draft stock tumble and may not even start this Saturday against TCU. SportsLine offers odds on Rattler starting over Caleb Williams.
Last season, Rattler also started a bit slowly before taking off at around this point of the year. He finished completing 67.5 percent of his passes for 3,031 yards, 28 touchdowns and seven picks for a rating of 172.6. Rattler also rushed for six scores. This season, his numbers: 74.3 percent completions, 1,371 yards, 10 TDs, five picks for a rating of 153.2. He has rushed for three scores.
Obviously, those are still strong numbers, but Oklahoma has not been nearly the same overall offensively. In Week 3, the Sooners were held to 23 points in a close win over Nebraska. That ended OU's streak of consecutive games scoring at least 27 points at 65, the longest streak nationally since at least 1980. The next week, Oklahoma was held to 16 in an even tighter win over West Virginia and it took a field goal as time expired. Students booed Rattler after an interception and chanted "We want Caleb (Williams)."
The good news is that Coach Lincoln Riley's team hung 55 points on Texas last Saturday in a wild 55-48 Red River Showdown victory, but the Sooners didn't get going until Rattler was benched for the true freshman Williams with OU down 28-7.
Williams ran for a 66-yard score on a fourth-and-1 early in the second quarter to cut the Texas lead to 28-14 and completed 15 of 24 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns after replacing Rattler, who had two turnovers in the first half that led to Texas TDs. Williams' 300 yards of total offense were the most ever by a true freshman against Texas. He didn't turn the ball over in his first meaningful collegiate action.
Riley hasn't had to make a midseason QB change at OU with talents like Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts, but signs are pointing to Williams starting Saturday vs. TCU as he's reportedly taking more first-team reps in practice this week (according to the OU Daily). The Sooners are currently 13.5-point favorites at Caesars Sportsbook.
Williams does bring a running threat that Rattler doesn't. Rattler normally talks with reporters Wednesdays of game week, but OU canceled its weekly Zoom sessions. No reason was given. Both guys were five-star recruits, Rattler in 2019 out of Arizona and Williams this year from Washington, D.C.
"I don't plan on naming a starting quarterback this week," said Riley, adding he does not like rotating quarterbacks in a game. "We'll see how the week plays out and we'll see where we are when we get to Saturday. We'll see how it goes. We'll see Saturday at 6:30."
ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. had Rattler has his clear-cut top QB in the Class of 2022 entering the season but in his most recent mock draft has Rattler as "more like a fringe first-rounder" and his third-ranked QB. DraftKings still has a prop active on the first overall pick next year, and Oregon pass rusher Kayvon Thibodeaux is the -110 favorite followed by Rattler (+350) and another struggling touted QB in North Carolina's Sam Howell (+450).
ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit recently had an interesting take in that if Rattler doesn't start vs. TCU and becomes frustrated with the program, perhaps he could opt out of the rest of the season and start training for the 2022 NFL Draft.
Via SportsLine oddsmakers: Who starts at QB for Oklahoma on Saturday vs. TCU?
- Caleb Williams -130
- Spencer Rattler Even
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