The shock is still fresh from the initial playoff rankings. Oklahoma, the only 9-0 team in the country, didn’t just miss out on the Top Four of the rankings, they barely made the Top Eight! Yeah, you read that right. The Sooners made their College Football Playoff Top 25 debut at #8. The ranking was a clear and concise message to the Sooners – Play Better!
No one is questioning Oklahoma’s talent and ability. What they’re questioning is their focus and heart. The Sooners legitimately could be a Top Four team, (OU fans definitely think they are) but the only current indicator of that is the 9-0 record. While, in theory, that should be enough, it clearly isn’t.
College Football Playoff Rankings
Granted, Oklahoma’s resume doesn’t necessarily, “check all of the boxes”. The Sooner’s best win is over a 4-loss Texas team and their most dominating performance against a Power Five school came last weekend against Texas Tech but it was also just five days after the Red Raiders fired head coach Matt Wells. Then there’s the debacle in Lawrence, Kansas that this set of rankings is going to force us to talk about again. Even with all of that, the #8 ranking by the committee is pretty salty.
The only unbeaten teams the committee likes less than Oklahoma are Wake Forest and UTSA who didn’t even make the poll. Then again, the problem isn’t an unblemished record. Georgia has wins over Arkansas, Kentucky and Auburn. Michigan State is fresh off a win over Michigan, and Cincinnati has the win over Notre Dame. The Sooners have an average margin of victory of 11.5 points over Power Five opponents. That’s what has to get better. That’s the message of the playoff committee. The question now is, was it received?
The Sooners are off this weekend which means they have to stew on this news without playing a game as a method of coping. That means they’ll be at home watching seven teams in front of them and seventeen teams behind them in poll make a statement by the way they play. That could be the biggest motivator of all, eleven days to think about how they can change the committee’s opinion before they take the field again.
If you’re looking for a silver lining then it’s in Oklahoma’s remaining schedule. The Sooners have two teams ranking inside the Top 12 on their schedule in November and they’re both on the road. Sandwiched between #12 Baylor and #11 Oklahoma State is also an Iowa State team that’s no slouch either. Should they run the gauntlet unscathed then they’re likely looking at a rematch with either the Bears or Cowboys in the Big 12 championship game. In other words, there’s still time to fix it. There’s still time for Oklahoma to respond to every concern that the committee has. There’s not just time but also opportunity to make the statement on the field. If OU runs the table they will show the committee everything that they wanted to see. If OU runs the table they’ll be in the College Football Playoff.
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