Watch Now: CFB Preseason Poll: No. 4 Oklahoma (3:09)

Oklahoma has been on the brink of greatness over the last three seasons but hasn't been able to break through that glass ceiling and get beyond the semifinal of the College Football Playoff. Is 2020 the year that the Sooners shatter it and move on to the national championship? Coach Lincoln Riley has proven during his three seasons at the helm -- all of which resulted in 12-win seasons -- that filling roster holes isn't a problem.

This year can't be an exception. The Sooners have to replace Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback Jalen Hurts, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and several other stars that were integral parts of the 2019 Big 12 champions. So, what's in store for Oklahoma in 2020? Let's break down its season outlook.

2019 rewind

Final ranking: No. 7 | Achievements: Big 12 champions, L 63-28 vs. LSU in Peach Bowl

Last season ended on a sour note in Atlanta with the Sooners blown out in the most embarrassing loss of the College Football Playoff era. There were several bright moments, though. They won an overtime thriller over Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game, topped rival Texas 34-27 and led the conference with 537.6 yards per game and 7.96 yards per play. Oklahoma's season was nothing to sneeze at, but it surely left the program wanting more once again.

Key departures

  • QB Jalen Hurts: The 2019 Heisman Trophy finalist threw for 3,851 yards, rushed for 1,298 yards and accounted for 53 touchdowns (32 passing, 20 rushing, one receiving) in a stellar senior season after transferring from Alabama.
  • WR CeeDee Lamb: Now a member of the Dallas Cowboys, Lamb caught 62 passes for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns for the high-flying Sooners offense last year. 
  • DL Neville Gallimore: The senior notched 30 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss as the anchor of the defensive line. 
  • DB Parnell Motley: The third-team All-Big 12 defensive back had 41 tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery and 13 pass breakups in his final season of college football.
  • LB Kenneth Murray: The former hot-shot recruit was drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft after jumping to the NFL one year early. He lead the Sooners with 102 tackles last season.

Who's back?

  • C Creed Humphrey: The first-team All-Big 12 performer and Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year is back and will anchor the trenches.
  • RB Kennedy Brooks: The "other" 1,000-yard rusher for the Sooners last season will be counted on to be the No. 1 running back after Trey Sermon transferred to Ohio State.
  • WR Charleston Rambo: Lamb's receiving mate last year had 43 catches for 743 yards and five touchdowns, and he will likely be the No. 1 option this season.
  • OL Adrian Ealy: Humphrey anchors the middle of the offensive line, and Ealy locks down outside as one of the top tackles in the country.
  • DB Delarrin Turner-Yell: Yell had 75 tackles (second on the team) and 5.5 tackles for loss in a secondary that was tested early and often.

Fresh faces

  • QB Spencer Rattler: The likely starter at quarterback and former hot-shot prospect appeared in three games; he threw for 81 yards and one touchdown while taking a redshirt.
  • WR Marvin Mims: The third highest-ranked member of the Sooners' 2020 recruiting class could be asked to be a significant contributor ... especially if Jadon Haselwood's leg injury keeps him out for a prolonged period of time.
  • JUCO defensive tackles: Perrion Winfrey and Josh Ellison were the No. 1 and No. 2 junior college defensive tackles, respectively, in the 2020 class. They'll be key contributors up front for Oklahoma this season.

Critical games

Sept. 12 -- vs. Tennessee: The Volunteers are riding a six-game winning streak and have experience returning all over the depth chart. They're still building under third-year coach Jeremy Pruitt, and this could be a tough spot for the Sooners.

Oct. 10 -- vs. Texas (Dallas): Of course, the Red River Rivalry is one of Oklahoma's most critical games of the season. This could be a de facto College Football Playoff elimination game.

Oct. 24 -- vs. Oklahoma State: Bedlam will go down two weeks after the Sooners play Texas. Who doesn't love one of the most exciting rivalries in college football?

2020 outlook

The Sooners have won five straight conference titles, and nothing short of six in a row should be acceptable. But it doesn't stop there. In order for this season to be a success, Oklahoma has to at least make the College Football Playoff National Championship. Yes, the title game -- not the semifinal. That quest begins and ends with Rattler. If Riley's magic quarterback dust works again, the Sooners can absolutely get over the hump. If not, they still should contend for the Big 12 championship but will likely play themselves out of the CFP with more than one inexplicable loss, which seems to be an annual thing.