The Big 12 is never afraid of making slogans. The “one true champion” no doubt backfired on the conference last year, but it was back at it again this year.
The catchphrase of the month is a “November to Remember” with the four top teams in the Big 12 (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, TCU) all playing each other to figure out who is the cream of the crop.
It was a night to remember for the Sooners on Saturday in Waco, handing the Bears their first loss ever at McLane Stadium.
It wasn’t just exorcising two years’ worth of demons against the Bears. It wasn’t just keeping chances alive for the conference championship. Don’t look now, but the Sooners are once again legitimate college football playoff contenders.
“It feels so good, so good,” senior center Ty Darlington said. “This is a definite legacy game for these seniors to turn the tide back and restore things to their rightful order.”
At least for a week, that is. Restoring order isn’t a one-week thing for the Sooners. It can’t be. Only one-third of this incredible gauntlet is in the books. Up next is the lone battle to happen in Norman as OU faces one-loss TCU on Saturday night.
OU’s mantra has been about taking it one game at a time. The college football playoff rankings are a pure example of that. The Sooners began No. 15 in the first poll. A win vs. Iowa State and some losses by other teams helped OU move to No. 12.
Based on the coaches and associated press polls released Sunday, the Sooners have risen to No. 7, their highest ranking of the season.
There’s no way to know for sure where the CFP committee is going to rank OU on Tuesday evening. What you do know for sure is head coach Bob Stoops is not going to care one bit about where his club is ranked. Didn’t in the past, won’t worry about it now.
He’s not the only Stoops brother with that sentiment.
“Our players know playing TCU, that we’re going to have to compete at a very high level,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “It’s down to two games. You ought to get your second wind and get ready to roll now. This is playoff time. We’ve got a chance to really make some noise and we’re carrying a lot of momentum right now.”
The Sooners have been rolling since an inexplicable loss to Texas in the second week of October. OU has rattled off five wins in a row, scoring more than 44 points in all of them. Final tally in the last five games? 276-84 as OU has gone from a team full of unanswered questions to a team that arguably has the best shot of making the four-team playoff out of any school in the Big 12.
OU’s playoff hopes weren’t dashed on a dismal effort in the Cotton Bowl against the Longhorns. It wasn’t won with a superb effort in Waco, either. What you did last week means jack squat heading into the following contest.
Once again the Sooners are going to find themselves as the favorites. Saturday marked the first game OU wasn’t favored since the 2014 Sugar Bowl. OU’s 16-6 record not all that stellar.
With TCU’s injury situation and the way OU is clicking on all cylinders, a win isn’t just expected but style points could be in the back of the mind for the public.
The Sooners can’t focus on playing for the committee, but it’s obvious the next two weeks are going to tell us exactly where this OU team stands.
“That’s up to the playoff committee,” said running back Samaje Perine on whether OU deserves to be in the playoff picture. “But we’re going to do everything we can to make their job a little bit easier.”
The next task is TCU, the same team that started the derailment of what was supposed to be the chase for eight squad of 2014. OU’s revenge tour continues.