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Phil Steele surprises by picking Oklahoma as preseason No. 1

BY TARIQ LEE, Staff Writer, tlee@opubco.com Modified: July 6, 2010 at 11:48 am •  Published: July 5, 2010

College football fans might be confused when they open this year's Phil Steele's 2010 College Football preview.

There isn't usually much debate on the preseason number one team: University of Florida the past two seasons and this year defending champion Alabama.

Steele's magazine picked a school at number one that wasn't on anyone's radar: The Oklahoma Sooners.

"They went 8-5, if you look at their record you think 'wow' they had an unsuccessful year," said Joey Lucci, Head of Public Relations and Big 12 Conference Co-Coordinator for Phil Steele. "But four of their five losses were by a total of 12 points."

Lucci then began to shoot out all kinds of numbers that could make the biggest skeptic into a believer.

Oklahoma had 42 starts lost to injury last season third worst in the FBS, they outgained their opponents by 133 yards per game in the Big 12, and when they lost to Texas they outgained them 311-269.

"The last decade there's been four teams that played in the National Title Game that lost four or more games the previous year," Lucci said. "Three of those teams lost five."

He admitted that much of their success is going to come down to production by starting QB Landry Jones, who Steele's lists as a Heisman favorite, but with a more experienced line Lucci is confident in Jones' output.

"He threw 26 TD passes last year and for 3,198 yards, plus now he has no one looking over his shoulder, I expect the same results."