Clemson is in trouble, and that’s a real good thing for Oklahoma, or else we might be talking about how Oklahoma could be on the outside of the College Football Playoff.
Yes. This season.
As good as Oklahoma has been, and should be the rest of the season, the fact Clemson has been less impressive and has a schedule worse than OU’s the rest of the way, is a nice dose of college football serendipity.
Now, Oklahoma did its part and scheduled what should have been a hearty non-conference lineup, however, it turned out UCLA and Houston aren’t really worthy opponents. It’s not OU’s fault their non-con stinks. But then again, it’s not anyone else’s fault that OU’s non-con stinks, either. You have to evaluate what’s available to evaluate. And this season OU doesn’t have a lot working in its favor as far as the pre-Big 12 schedule goes.
So, let’s spin it forward.
There’s a real good chance Clemson finishes the season unbeaten, considering it plays no ranked opponents the rest of the way. Clemson’s best win? The Tigers beat No. 12 Texas A&M. That’s a good win. Past that, there’s not much there.
But is that win enough to push the Tigers past a one-loss SEC team like Georgia or Auburn or Alabama which will have played a much more difficult schedule? Nope. Thanks to the ACC, Clemson is in trouble – even if the Tigers are undefeated. Clemson has Florida State, Louisville, Boston College, Wofford, North Carolina State, Wake Forest and South Carolina left. Wake is ranked No. 22. The likelihood of Wake still being ranked in the middle of November is about as likely as Wofford making the College Football Playoff.
Now, let’s talk Oklahoma. The Sooners need Texas and Oklahoma State to keep winning to make up for its non-conference shortcomings. Now, the Big 12 is certainly better than the ACC and Oklahoma State has been a little better than we expected, but Iowa State hasn’t exactly done its part. Baylor, TCU, West Virginia, K-State? Those teams aren’t moving any sort of needle.
Conference championships are nice and past year’s performances are admirable, but neither are supposedly part of the criteria the College Football Playoff committee uses to evaluate the teams. Teams don’t necessarily get extra credit for winning a conference title.
So, now we’re talking about Oklahoma, Ohio State, Wisconsin, maybe Notre Dame, Clemson and a trio or SEC teams for the four playoff spots. The Pac-12 has already eliminated itself. Past that, no one’s taking Penn Sate or Iowa as a serious playoff contender.
Ohio State would have games against ranked teams Wisconsin, Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan – and that’s before a conference championship game. Wisconsin has Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa still to go and has beaten Michigan.
Any SEC team you want to choose has a worthy schedule, whether it’s LSU, Auburn, Georgia, Alabama and even Florida, thanks to the SEC grind. LSU already has a great road win over Texas. Auburn has a quality win against Oregon.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma has Oklahoma State and Texas and maybe Iowa State. That’s not particularly powerful, but when compared to Clemson, it sure is.
Clemson has, well, Clemson has ‘not exactly.’ Oklahoma has very little wiggle room the rest of the way. Clemson has none, but doesn’t need it.
The good news for Oklahoma in all of this discussion is that Clemson is involved in all this discussion. As long as Clemson is in the mix, Oklahoma is in good shape.