OU Football

Can OU Lose a Game and Still Make the CFP?

Can OU Lose a Game and Still Make the CFP?

The Oklahoma Sooners defeated the Texas Longhorns on Saturday 34-27, which now has them sitting at 6-0 on the season and currently #5 in the AP Poll.

Somewhat surprisingly, this is the first time OU has been 6-0 since 2011. They’ll be hoping this year finishes better than that one, though, as the Sooners went on to take three losses in the back half of their schedule.

In the College Football Playoff era, the formula for OU to make it into college football’s final four has been essentially the same all three times: Take a loss early, get hot in the back end of the season, win the Big 12, and count on the committee not leaving a 1-loss Oklahoma out.

But, this year could be much trickier than the past ones. These things have a tendency to work themselves out, but it definitely looks right now that there is a potential for 3-4 undefeated teams in college football this season. Clemson with their light schedule, the LSU/Alabama winner, the Big 10 gauntlet survivor, and then presumably Oklahoma.

That does not leave much wiggle room for the Sooners should they stumble before the season ends. But before we get too much deeper into that conversation, let’s look what the most likely hiccups in the OU schedule could be.

At Baylor, November 16th

The Baylor Bears currently sit at 6-0 and are ranked #18 in the country.

I happen to think Baylor is a pretty good football team mainly because Matt Rhule is a phenomenal coach, and the turnaround that program has had from where they were just two years ago is truly astonishing.

Do I think Baylor is as good as Oklahoma? Of course not. OU absolutely should win that football game, but it won’t be easy. Playing in Waco is quite tough, and they will have that place rocking.

Just ask Baker Mayfield and the 2017 squad how tough it is after they almost got completely stunned there the last time the Sooners visited.

This is a heavy candidate for toughest game left on the docket as Lincoln Riley tries to navigate the second half of the season.

At Oklahoma State, November 30th

Oklahoma State is a weird football team, and they have been for a couple years now.

No team plays up to their competition and down to their competition quite like the Pokes. Mike Gundy’s squad almost took down Texas in Austin, and handled Kansas State at home, but took a truly puzzling loss a couple weeks ago in Lubbock to Texas Tech.

This is what they have been for a couple years now. This week Baylor comes to town, I fully expect them to play great and likely knock off the Bears.

Yes, obviously, Oklahoma has completely owned this rivalry for a century, but, if OU is sitting at 11-0, on the cusp of a CFP berth, the Stillwater faithful will make that a very tough place to play.

Spencer Sanders is a dynamic quarterback who could put the Alex Grinch ‘Speed D’ to the test, and it could be a very competitive game in Bedlam.

Big 12 Championship Game, December 7th

I’m going to go ahead and assume Oklahoma will be in this game.

OU has won this thing the last two years, so they have that going for them should they be there again. This game is the hardest remaining on the schedule to me IF it is a Texas rematch.

Texas is a good team, and Oklahoma dominated them this past week. But, the scoreboard just read a 7-point margin. Tom Herman would get to make all the adjustments he could and if the Longhorns played even remotely well that could be a scary game for the Sooners.

Should this game end up being a Baylor rematch, or if Iowa State squeaks in there or something, it worries me a whole lot less.

On that stage, a team in the Big 12 other than Texas is just far too inferior to beat Oklahoma on a neutral field in a setting like that. If it is a Texas rematch though? Lookout.

So….Can they afford a loss?

I honestly don’t think so, unless they catch a massive break with Clemson getting upset at some point.

The Big 12 is not great this year, and the SEC and Big 10 appear to have several CFP contenders. Alabama and LSU will play each other, so someone will take a loss there. But there is no way that a 1-loss Oklahoma would make it over the 1-loss loser of that game, even with OU being a conference champion and the other team not one. That would shock me.

Same thing really goes in the Big 10 with Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State. If one of those teams runs the table, and Oklahoma loses, you’ll be looking at a 1-loss Oklahoma vs a 1-loss Big 10 team (probably Penn State) whose only loss is against, let’s say, an undefeated Ohio State. I certainly don’t think Oklahoma wins that debate.

This could all change should Clemson get upset somewhere along the way, but that seems extremely unlikely given their schedule.

Bottom line, Clemson is likely going undefeated, that is one spot. SEC champion and Big 10 champion will also make it, that’s two more spots. That leaves one spot for Oklahoma, and the teams that don’t win the SEC (Alabama/LSU loser) and the Big 10. If OU is undefeated, they will obviously get the nod. If they aren’t? I think most Sooner fans may already know that answer.

Something that is working in their favor is that, luckily for OU, Ohio State and Wisconsin play each other in the regular season despite being in different Big 10 divisions. It is totally plausible they will face off twice, which helps OU almost no matter what the result. However, should Penn State go on to the Big 10 title game and face off with Wisconsin, this could leave Ohio State with just 1 “good” loss and certainly still a candidate despite not winning the conference.

There are loads of scenarios, and that is what makes college football this time of year so fun. These things tend to work themselves out, but the Sooners could save themselves a lot of stress if they just take care of their games the rest of the way.

As for the next game, it is this Saturday at 11:00 (again) as Oklahoma will host former quarterback Austin Kendall and the West Virginia Mountaineers at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium in Norman on FOX, and can be heard as always right here on 107.7 The Franchise.

OU Football

Josh is a sports broadcaster and journalist covering both Oklahoma high school sports as well as the University of Oklahoma. He has been the play-by-play voice of Chickasha High School Basketball for the past three seasons and starting in 2020 is the voice of Newcastle High School Football on the Oklahoma Sports Network. For The Franchise, Josh has been on the call for high school playoff football and basketball games, and currently covers OU Football as well as OU Baseball. He is also a contributing writer to Boomtown Hoops, a website dedicated to coverage of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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