There’s three weeks left in the college football regular season, and with the latest college football playoff rankings released Tuesday night, there’s one conclusion: Oklahoma absolutely does not control its own destiny.
The curiosity was where OU would be ranked, but with the Sooners only jumping up five spots from No. 12 to No. 7 following the win at then-No. 6 Baylor, it’s clear OU has a lot of work left to be done with the committee.
“People have recognized to this point what we’ve done,” head coach Bob Stoops said. “When you go on the road to win against a top-six team. You go on the road to win at Tennessee. When that game’s scheduled 10 years out, you don’t know what kind of year we’re going to have. We’ve done all we can to play well and put ourselves to be one of the teams in top four.”
It felt like this week would be another boost for the Sooners, but again, the rankings reveal something different. TCU, once thought as a national championship contender, is now ranked No. 18 with the committee and dropped from No. 15 to No. 18 following the win against Kansas.
The Horned Frogs are No. 11 in the human polls, but the seven-spot difference is a major cause of concern for OU going forward. Hypotheticals are dangerous to play, but if OU was to beat TCU, it’s incredibly likely the Frogs will go out of the top 25 and not be considered a quality win.
OU being ranked No. 7 is fine as it pertains to No. 6 Oklahoma State and No. 5 Iowa. Sooners, of course, play the Cowboys next week. Iowa will have earned its bid winning out and beating Michigan State or Ohio State in the B1G championship game.
The issue, based on what selection committee chair Jeff Long said Tuesday night, is Notre Dame. Long said the Irish are entrenched as the No. 4-ranked team.
It’s true OU can bolster its resume once again with TCU and Oklahoma State, but so, too, can the Irish with a win at Stanford next week. Despite the Cardinal losing at home to Oregon, Stanford only fell to No. 11 and will very likely be a top-10 team once again next week since Ohio State-Michigan State and Oklahoma State-Baylor are both this weekend. Two of those schools will fall, and Stanford should rise.
OU fans can clamor for their team, but the one clear blind spot is going to be Texas. Notre Dame wiped the floor with the Longhorns 38-3, while OU fell 24-17. Yes, it’s a major rivalry game, but with each week, the loss doesn’t factor into a positive for the Sooners.
OU’s resume is getting a boost as the season progresses. Long has stressed wins against teams that are better than .500. OU now has four of those, and it’s hard to envision that number decreasing as Baylor, Tennessee, Texas Tech and West Virginia have hit that mark.
The Mountaineers are the one to watch because they could easily be 8-4 and end the season on a five-game winning streak, which could help OU’s resume. Same with Tennessee as the Vols have bounced back after heartbreaking losses to OU, Florida and Arkansas.
Numbers, rankings aside, it still feels like, at least from the outside, the Big 12’s style of play is simply not looked upon favorably. Oklahoma State winning 70-53 in Lubbock seems to not mean as much as Iowa winning 10-6 at Wisconsin.
“You can say a lot of conferences don’t play offense,” cornerback Zack Sanchez said. “There’s a lot of defenses that are in the top-20 and if they’re come in this conference, they’d get blown out. I think that’s something that the Big 12 proves every year, when we play other Power 5 conferences in the bowl games.
“You can talk about there’s no defense, but talk about how many top five offenses there are with Tech, Baylor, TCU and West Virginia. They put up crazy amounts of numbers. And OSU and our offense. When people talk about that kind of stuff it’s like, ‘Come on man.’”
Clemson, Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Iowa, Oklahoma State and OU are the top seven teams for this week in that order.