NORMAN – Following their 58-23 demolition of longtime and bitter rival Oklahoma State, the third-ranked 11-1 Oklahoma Sooners punched their ticket to the College Football Playoff, or did they?
While Boomer Sooner administered a Bedlam Beatdown of epic proportions on the ‘Pokes, based on their own conference’s lack of a title game, one of college football’s storied programs may find themselves on the outside looking in.
With the new set of CFP rankings set to be released on Tuesday, the third-ranked Sooners will likely remain ranked third. However, with the SEC, B1G and Pac-12 Championship Games and the remote possibility of a seismic shift, which may include the likelihood of No.7 Stanford, defending champion No.6 Ohio State, No.8 North Carolina and No.5 Michigan State jumping them, would the CFP committee have the gall to keep the ten-time national champion Sooners out of the playoffs?
Some could argue that with the co-champion controversy between TCU and Baylor last year, forcing the committee to pass on both the Bears and Horned Frogs, that the Sooners may be the odd man out as the Big 12 is the only major conference without a conference title game.
While Oklahoma is a bigger brand name then both TCU and Baylor, the lack of playing—and winning a conference championship game could, and I mean COULD, come back to hurt the Sooners.
For the sake of argument, consider the possible doomsday scenarios:
If North Carolina were to upset No.1 Clemson, Florida upsets No.2 Alabama and USC beats Stanford, then the Buckeyes could leap up from six to either the third or fourth slot. Also, one must consider if Michigan State knocks off undefeated No.4 Iowa, then this would be the ULTIMATE nightmare can of worms that the committee hoped to avoid.
Miss the BCS, yet?
Granted, Ohio State is a at-large wild card at best, they are the defending national champions who are 1-1 against the Top 25, so it would be hard to deny them a chance to defend their title despite not playing in a conference title game, purely from a sentimental point of view.
So, how can Ohio State get a chance to defend their title despite not playing in it’s own conferences title game, yet the Sooners may get passed over despite winning theirs outright, you ask?
I call it the “Big 12 Effect” of national perception and not having that extra game to decide a true conference champion.
Michigan State, thanks to their wins on the road against in-state rival Michigan and the aforementioned Buckeyes with two backup QB’s, could also leap into the playoffs with a win over Iowa in Indianapolis.
One thing that the playoff committee will be sure to look at is quality wins and losses. Michigan and Ohio State have three between them while Oklahoma has three wins vs. ranked opponents in Baylor, TCU and the aforementioned Cowboys. Oklahoma has the advantage there.
However a bad loss against perhaps the worst Texas team in recent history, may weigh them down in the final rankings once the final four teams are revealed.
Consider that the Spartans also have a bad loss—on a fluke vs. Nebraska—but they will likely be boosted by their road win over Ohio State and possibly Iowa. The Buckeyes have an impressive road win at Michigan and a quality loss vs. Michigan State. in the eyes of the CFP committee, a quality loss is just as impressive as a quality win.
If North Carolina, Florida and USC pull off the unthinkable on Saturday, then the unlikely omission of the Sooners will cause massive reverberations throughout all of college football.
The sad part is, that Oklahoma has no one but their own conference—and their lack of a title game to blame.