MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL:Top 20 college football programs since 2010Oklahoma is ranked No. 4 in SN’s post-spring top 25. The Sooners have a new quarterback in Alabama transfer Jalen Hurts, and coach Lincoln Riley has led the Sooners to two of their four straight Big 12 championships. Texas is getting preseason playoff buzz — we’re guilty as charged — but the Sooners remain the kings of the conference until further notice.Can the Sooners take the title from the Tigers or the Tide?Three reasons why1. The offenseThe Sooners are the only team in the FBS that averaged more than 40 points per game each of the last four seasons. The offense should be good around Hurts, too. Kennedy Brooks (1,056 yards, 12 TDs) averaged 8.9 yards per carry as a freshman, and CeeDee Lamb (1,158 yards, 11 TDs) averaged 17.8 yards per catch.Riley is one of the most innovative offensive minds in the game, so this should continue to be one of the most explosive offenses in college football — one capable of scoring with Clemson and Alabama.2. Jalen HurtsHurts was the biggest name to enter the transfer portal this offseason and has a record of 25-2 as a starter. He thrived in a backup role for the Crimson Tide last season and improved his completion percentage to 72.9 with a smaller sample.Hurts does not have Baker Mayfield’s arm and is not the same explosive playmaker Kyler Murray is, but he is good enough to lead a College Football Playoff run in Riley’s offense. He averaged 10.9 yards per pass attempt last season. Murray (11.6) and Mayfield (11.5) were better, but if Hurts can produce around 11 yards in that category, then the Sooners’ offense will be fine.3. Grinch helps defenseYou know the knock on the Sooners by now. The defense allowed 33.3 points per game last season, which ranked 101st in the FBS. That was exposed in the Orange Bowl loss to Alabama, and the solution arrives in new defensive coordinator Alex Grinch.He helped turn around Washington State’s defense before spending a year at Ohio State. That impact translated with the Cougars. Washington State allowed 38.6 points per game the season before he arrived and were at 25.8 when he left three years later. If Oklahoma can have that kind of defensive makeover, then they will win a national title.MORE: Hurts among best transfer QBs for 2019So, why not?Oklahoma lost four offensive linemen to the NFL. Four redshirt sophomores and a redshirt freshman are expected to start this year, and they will be expected to grow with a transfer quarterback. The Texas threat is real, too. The Longhorns split with the Sooners last season, return an experienced quarterback in Sam Ehlinger and are a projected playoff team by SN.Oklahoma also will have hurdles before Big 12 play with a tricky opener against Houston and a road trip to UCLA. This unit will need to grow up fast.Coach factorRiley is 24-4 in two seasons as Oklahoma’s coach. He has shooed away NFL offers along the way, and the accomplishments of Mayfield and Murray will make it easy to recruit quarterbacks for years to come. The Sooners will always be in position to win the Big 12 championships.Oklahoma is 6-1 against ranked teams in the regular season over the last two years, and that includes huge road wins at Ohio State, Oklahoma State and West Virginia. That reputation will be tested this year in November at Baylor and Oklahoma State.Stat that mattersA look at the numbers in Oklahoma’s three playoff games reveals just how much they need the defense to improve. In those losses to Clemson, Georgia and Alabama — the top three teams in our preseason top 25 — the Sooners were out-gained by an average of 531.7-460 and out-rushed by an average of 276.3-157.3.That defense still needs to get a few stops, especially against the run. Alabama rushed for 200 yards. Clemson and Georgia each topped 300 yards. That must be better in the playoff semifinal games.Can they break up Alabama-Clemson?It’s about lessons learned in the big games. Oklahoma was too conservative in overtime in a 54-48 loss to the Georgia in the Rose Bowl two years ago. Last year, Alabama jumped out to a 28-0 lead before the Sooners settled in. The Grinch hire shows that Oklahoma recognized the problem on defense, and the Hurts transfer shows Riley’s confidence in the veteran quarterback. The pieces are there to make another run, and Hurts could get his chance opposite future first-round picks Trevor Lawrence and Tua Tagovailoa.A possible Alabama rematch would get the most attention of any possible playoff matchup, and Oklahoma is good enough to get back there.We still need to see what changes if they do. We released our 2019 College Football Playoff predictions last week week, and it came as no surprise that Sporting News picked another Alabama-Clemson matchup in the CFP championship game on Jan. 13 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.Can anybody break up the Alabama-Clemson monopoly at the top of college football? SN is taking closer looks at some of the top-10 programs with the best chances to do just that. We already broke down those chances for Georgia and Ohio State. Here we take a closer look at a team that has made the College Football Playoff three times.